Lady Tiger hoops enter new era

Cory Griffith/for the lusk herald Members of the NCHS girls’ basketball team include, front row from left to right: Phoebe Allbright, Evelyn DesEnfants, Reagan Stallman, Tessa Manning, Hattie Nelson, Melody ZumBrunnen and Christina Munoz. Back row: Lily Krueger, Larkin Williams, Paige Potter, Larissa Johnson, Gracie ZumBrunnen, Kyra Willey and Sammy Miles.

LUSK – As a new chapter begins for Niobrara County High School, perhaps the only thing fans will recognize is Lady Tigers across their jerseys.

Riki Kremers will lead Lusk in the post-Murray era, with just one player returning with extensive varsity experience. She becomes the sixth Lady Tiger Basketball head coach in school history.

“I’m a huge fundamentals person, and we’re starting from the ground level with everybody,” Kremers said. “And we’ll just build from there as a team.”

Kremers was a two sport athlete at Kaycee High School before moving on to Sheridan College for volleyball and basketball. Her basketball career continued at Chadron State (Neb), leading up to the first coaching job at Chadron Middle School. She spent a year in Big Horn, before moving on to Wind River as the middle school volleyball, boys and girls basketball coach. Kremers also led the Lady Cougars volleyball program prior to moving to Niobrara County.

“Some might say I’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 15 years or so,” she added with a smile.

Joining Kremers on the sidelines is a pair of young, ambitious assistants that love basketball. Shaylee Hladky and Avery Van Eaton were athletes at Lingle-Fort Laramie and Edgemont not long ago and will begin their coaching career with the veteran Kremers.

“I’ve been around basketball all my life and am excited for this chance,” Hladky said. “We’ve got a great group of girls that are working hard, and all of us will learn together.”

Both of them were involved with successful college programs as Van Eaton spent time with the UW Cowgirls as a student assistant, and Hladky played softball for Western Nebraska Community College.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity and am looking forward to helping the girls become better basketball players,” Van Eaton noted. “I’m still getting used to being called coach, however.”

Junior Lily Krueger spent plenty of time in last year’s rotation with seven seniors, and will be tasked with being the veteran presence on the floor.

“She’s got to be the steady one, because she’s been there before,” Kremers said. “Lily’s got to use her knowledge to help calm the girls around her.”

Other letterwinners returning include Larissa Johnson, Evelyn DesEnfants, Larkin Williams, Phoebe Allbright and Melody ZumBrunnen. All of them are battling for varsity time, with a handful of freshmen in the mix as well.

“We’re not very tall, so I look at this group and I see run written all over it,” Kremers said. “We want to move the ball fast for scoring opportunities and create turnovers on the defensive end.”

The Lady Tigers open their season at the Herder Classic with games against Wright (9 a.m Friday), St. Stephens (1:30 p.m. Friday) and Greybull (9:30 a.m. Saturday).

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