MISSOULA – Montana Lady Grizzlies basketball coaches have labeled this “positive week.” They want the team to carry a positive outlook into a rivalry game against the Montana State Bobcats, but the ladies don’t really have to change their mentality to reach the new goal.
Montana has soared to a 5-1 Big Sky Conference start, already passing last year’s overall and conference win total. Each player has found their role on the court while also finding their emotional comfort zone.
Jace Henderson and Mekayla Isaak lead with constant support, McKenzie Johnston stays intensely focused, Taylor Goligoski remains quiet and reserved. Everyone can be themselves and it all blends together perfectly.
The Lady Griz genuinely enjoyed playing together even before they found success, so now it’s even more fun.
“We had to find positive things in the losses last year, positive things in our record, positive things in everything we did, because it would have been a daunting season otherwise,” said head coach Shannon Schweyen. “So I think that has maybe carried over a little bit.”
“We keep ourselves in games with our mentality,” said Henderson, a junior forward who has blossomed from a role player into one of the best Lady Griz players this year. “We’re very competitive, have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder, and then we just never get down on ourselves. We keep the atmosphere positive, we let our coaches coach us, and we encourage each other.”
Montana’s unselfish attitude shows up in the box score, as well. Six different Lady Griz players have led the team in scoring in at least one game this year, and the bench often comes close to matching the starters in points.
Montana competed well in to tough losses to first-place Montana State last season. Now the Lady Griz sit atop the conference standings during their annual trip to Bozeman. The ladies start the fun at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Griz and Cat men will tip off at 7 p.m.