WELLS – Entering the 2017-2018 girls basketball season, the Lady Leopards must rely on the experience of the players they have returning – not the number of players in the program.
“We are pretty lean on numbers. I have 13 girls total for the junior varsity and varsity programs,” said Wells coach Enoch Dahl. “It’s going to be hard to run a JV program, but we’re doing it. I have about seven full-time varsity players and five or six girls on the JV.”
Dahl said a positive is that the girls on his varsity are “pretty interchangeable.”
Despite being limited in the opening portion of the season, Wells will reap the benefits of having Samantha Stumpf back for her senior season.
She has battled ligament issues in her ankle for more than a year, missing the entire volleyball season after undergoing surgery in the early part of the summer.
“I’m going to have to play her into shape, but I don’t want to push it too hard in the preseason,” Dahl said. “She’ll be fairly limited early on. Honestly, I will probably only play her 12-15 minutes per game to start off.”
Dahl said Stumpf is still recovering from the injury and has not completely regained her burst and agility as of yet.
One thing she can still do extremely well is shoot the basketball.
Despite battling her ailing ankle last season, Stumpf still led the Lady Leopards with 12.1 points per game, adding two rebounds, two assists and two steals per contest.
She knocked down 39 3s on the year, 30 more than her next-closest teammate – connecting on 31 percent of her attempts from distance.
Her season high of 22 points came on Dec. 17, 2016, against Pahrump Valley, burying a season-best five 3s in the contest.
On the same day, she dished a season-high seven assists against Dixie (Utah).
The Lady Leopards graduated their second-leading scorer, Mallorie Limardo, who put in 9.1 points per game.
Limardo also ranked second on the roster in rebounding, yanking down 6.1 boards per contest.
Also gone are guard Holly Seech and forward Katlyn DelRio.
Seech averaged 5.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals as she earned an honorable mention for the 1A Northern-East awards.
DelRio ranked second on the team with 2.3 steals per game, adding 4.9 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Keegan Laughlin serves as the lone returning player who received an honorable mention for the Lady Leopards during the 2016-2017 season, leading Wells with 6.7 rebounds during her junior year.
She also topped the roster with 2.5 steals per game, scoring 8.6 points per contest.
Laughlin’s length and athleticism should prove extremely beneficial for Wells during her senior year.
She’s not just long; she can move and runs the floor better than anyone on the team in transition.
Her versatility is unmatched for the Lady Leopards.
Her best game of the season came on Dec. 9 against Smith Valley during the Comstock Classic in Virginia City, putting up video-game numbers.
She scored 18 points, jerked down 19 rebounds – each season highs – coming up with four steals and swatting three shots.
Laughlin made six steals in two games, doing so on Jan. 19 against Carlin and on Feb. 16 in the first round of the Division 1A North regional tournament against Sierra Lutheran.
She closed the year with four double-doubles.
“We have worked a lot on her ball handling, finishing and shooting from 10 to 15 feet,” Dahl said. “If we can get her to make shots from the elbow, she’ll be very hard to defend.”
The Lady Leopards also bring back senior Sam Shamblin and junior Berenice Aboite.
Last season, Shamblin averaged 3.7 points and 2.5 rebounds, while Aboite put in 3.4 points and jerked down 3.2 rebounds, adding 1.5 steals.
“Sam can knock it down from the outside, and Berenice has been shooting well from the outside,” Dahl said.
Dahl is excited about the addition of freshman Cameron Powers, who he said “has played a lot of travel ball.”
“She will increase the basketball IQ of our entire team,” Dahl said. “She knows the game really well.”
Senior Amanda Murphy is a transfer from Wendover, Utah.
“She could start for us. She can knock it down from the outside,” Dahl said. “The thing I really like about her is her toughness. She’s only 5-6 or 5-7 but she is a good rebounder and defends very well.”
Senior Lacye Pearson initially started out as the team’s manager when she was a freshman and hasn’t played much basketball the past few years, but Dahl said she gives the Lady Leopards some size and can shoot the ball a little.
In the early stages of the season, Dahl said one of his team’s strengths is that the Lady Leopards have a “completely different, better attitude.”
“We have some pretty good experience and the girls have great attitudes,” he said. “We have our deep threat back and we should have good inside play as well.”
Dahl expects freshman McKenli Myers and sophomore Jackie Berumen to play up from the junior varsity and help the varsity team’s numbers.
The Lady Leopards opened the season at noon Thursday in the annual Wells Rural Electric Classic against Whittell and faced off with Wendover, Utah, at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Wells will close the WREC with Friday games against Round Mountain at 12:30 p.m. and Pahranagat Valley at 6:30 p.m., wrapping up with an 11:30 a.m. Saturday ballgame against the Elko junior varsity.