MISSOULA – The Montana Lady Grizzlies’ coaches have one of those good problems this year. Montana has 11 players contributing, which doesn’t make it easy to fit everyone into the rotation.
All 11 Lady Griz average more than eight minutes a night, but two new players are turning into key contributers as the season has gone on. Freshman guard Sophia Stiles and Montana State volleyball transfer Caitlin Lonergan keep earning more time on the court. Both players scored career highs in a win at Southern Utah last Thursday, with Stiles scoring 26 and Lonergan, a sophomore forward, contributing 18 points and nine rebounds.
Head coach Shannon Schweyen has adjusted their roles recently, which takes playing time away from others, but she’s pleased with the way everyone has accepted the fluid lineup.
“We talk all of the time with the ladies just to remember that it’s all 15 of us out there getting these wins together and experiencing this season together,” said Schweyen. “Obviously when you have new kids playing it can be a tough situation, but I’m proud of the way that our team has been handling it and accepting each other and pushing each other. It’s certainly made for much more competitive practices, which is healthy.”
Stiles made her first career start in Montana’s last game, and Schweyen admitted the starting lineup could change each night going forward based on matchups.
It also helps everyone’s mood that the Lady Griz currently sit in first place. At 7-2 in the Big Sky Conference, Montana has already blown past last year’s win total.
Montana hosts Northern Colorado on Thursday at 7 p.m., and North Dakota at 2 p.m. Saturday.