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Contrasting captains: Billings Senior girls lean on 3 seniors

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Posted at 2:00 PM, Jan 12, 2021

BILLINGS -- Early indications are Billings Senior's basketball girls could be in for some tight games this season. They won last week's opener in overtime against Great Falls CMR, then played to within six points of Great Falls High.

As the Broncs bounce into a new season, they plan to lean on three seniors -- the only three on the roster -- and each a team captain.

Lilly Johnson, Kara Conway and Liv LaBeau are in charge of trying to keep the order. LaBeau steps into the post position after the Broncs lost one of last year's 6-foot-3 players to graduation. Any chance LaBeau can grow a few inches in the next week? She laughed at the thought and said she'll try.

As for her captain's mentality?

"I think it's good to keep your teammates in check and hold them accountable because I know what they can do," LaBeau told MTN Sports during a recent practice. "I want to hold them to that standard. But also, you just get chewed, you've got to put an arm around them and say, 'It's OK, you got the next one.'"

Johnson, meanwhile, said she walks the line of good cop, bad cop.

"I joke around a lot, but I know when to keep it serious," she said with a partial smile.

Then there's Conway, described as the quiet cut-up.

"Kara Conway, she is definitely our jokester," Broncs head coach Connor Silliker told MTN Sports. "She knows how to level people out and make them enjoy practice and those types of things. So, we are very balanced in the leadership that we have."

Naturally, we also wanted the vantage point of an underclassman to see if all adds up. Brenna Linse is a junior playing everywhere from guard to post.

"Olivia is more serious, on point. She's the one who will push us to do our best," Linse said, spot on. "And I feel like Lilly Johnson, she's really fun but also serious. And Kara ... Kara is the funny one but doesn't really talk. Very quiet. But she definitely leads by example. So we definitely have very diverse captain picks."

All three are working in concert with Silliker, now in his second season as head coach of the Broncs. Aside from size, here's what he said Senior's big difference is from a year ago.

"More than anything, we're having to play less of the install game and more of sharpening the edge," he said. "A lot of our personnel fits into the same strengths we had last year. I think we can read and react more out of the sets instead of playing more of a memory game."

Players are looking forward to an up-tempo offense.

"Our guards have a lot more speed and I think we're going to come out with a lot more intensity than last year," LaBeau said. "We're going to try to throw some different things at them and just come out with a lot of energy."

Listening to Silliker, the Broncs will also bring an abundance of that energy on the defensive end.

"Some nights, maybe the ball doesn't go in the hole for you and you've got to rely on your defense to get it done for you. We know that firsthand. Divisional tournament (last year) against Great Falls High, I think we had a game that was 28-24 and defense was paramount. So, we will predicate defense very much," he said.

Spoken more like a veteran head coach -- with a trio of contrasting captains to help steer the ship.