By: Con Marshall, CSC Sports Information
After having a 0-13 record during last year's pandemic-plagued season, the only way the Chadron State College women's basketball team can go is up. And, Coach Janet Raymer is confident that will happen.
Now in her sixth season as the Lady Eagles' coach, Raymer hit the recruiting trail hard during the off-season, landing five transfers and 10 freshmen. They have joined the seven returnees from a year ago, giving the Eagles a 22-player roster.
That's about twice the number that usually suits up and sees game-action, but Raymer believes the transfers, in particular, will give her team a big boost. Nearly all the freshmen, she said, will redshirt while being groomed to take the court in a year or so.
Just two of the Eagles' returnees are seniors. They include Jori Peters, the hustling Mitchell product who has been a sparkplug and the Eagles' primary ball-handler in nearly every game the team has played since she stepped on campus in the fall of 2018. The other is Bailey Brooks, a Douglas, Wyo., native who arrived a year earlier than Peters, but missed the 2018-19 season because of injuries.
Both Peters and Brooks were highly successful high school athletes and want to wrap up their college careers on a positive note. Peters averaged 9.5 points and Brooks 6.3 last season.
Other returnees include junior Brittni McCully of Mullen, who, like Peters, started all 13 games last season, seldom scores big, but is a great teammate, and sophomores Tatum Peterson of Glenwood Springs, Colo., who 6-1 is the team's "big," and Meagan Ross of Sidney who scored 38 points in 10 games last season.
Raymer thinks Peterson, who was sidelined all her freshman year in 2019-20 because of a knee injury, is ready to make a big contribution this season now that she's healthy
The Eagles also return redshirt freshmen Shay Powers and Olivia Waufle, both Coloradans who as true freshmen last season played in all 13 games and still have four years of eligibility since college athletes had that participation waived.
Both are athletic and showed much promise last season, particularly in the later games. For instance, they combined to grab 17 rebounds against South Dakota Mines and joined forces to score 24 points in the season finale against Colorado Christian.
The fact is all the returning players had some good games last season, but consistency was a problem. Hopefully, the good games will come more frequently this time around.
The transfers joining the Eagles include Riley Aione and Samiyah Worrell, who were the leading scorers at Northwest College at Powell, Wyo., last season. Worrell led the Trappers at 14 points a game and was named to the Region 9 all-star team. Aione averaged 9.4 points and 5.9 rebounds and blocked 37 shots during the team's 10-12 season. At 6-1, she gives the Eagles some badly needed height.
Emily Achter, a 5-7 Australian, averaged 4.6 points and shot 38.9 percent from the field the past two years at Casper College, which won its first 22 games in 2020-2021 before losing the regional championship and national tournament games by narrow margins.
Another transfer is 5-5 Olyvia Pacheco, who averaged 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds the past two seasons at Montana's Miles County Community College. The Pioneers finished last year with a 24-2 record and won the Region 13 championship, advancing to the national tournament, where they were 1-1.
After practicing for a month, Raymer says she's pleased with what she's seen from the transfers. It makes sense to believe that if the Eagles are to make significant improvement this season, much of the impetus will have to come from the transfers.
The coach added that the freshman group also has promise, but said most of them "aren't quite ready" for the pace of the college games.
The Eagles played an exhibition game last week against Colorado State in Fort Collins, losing by a 78-43 score. Peters was the Eagles' top scorer with 16 points followed by Brooks and Peterson with eight apiece.
The CSC women will officially open their season this weekend as part of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-Lone Star Conference "crossover" on the road to take on Texas A&M-Kingsville on Friday and Texas A&M International in Laredo on Saturday. Both games will be played in the afternoon.
Following the trip to Texas, the Eagles will visit Wayne State on Thursday, Nov. 18, then host Mount Marty College from Yankton, S.D., on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2:30 in the Chicoine Center.
The November schedule will close with an exhibition game at the University of Wyoming on the 22nd and a contest at Nebraska-Kearney on the 27th. The Eagles will open their RMAC slate by hosting Fort Lewis and Western Colorado on Dec. 3 and 4.