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Former Jefferson standout Aubrey McMaster back leading Panthers as first-year head coach

Jefferson girls basketball
Jefferson High Panthers
Posted at 8:20 PM, Dec 06, 2023

BOULDER — Aubrey McMaster is back in Boulder.

The former Jefferson High girls basketball standout was an assistant coach last year under Sarah Layng. McMaster is taking over the head coaching duties this season, and she understands what it takes to be successful in the community where she grew up.

“My goal is to get all of my players to be hard-working, confident and happy young women,” said the new head girls basketball coach of the Panthers.

McMaster graduated from the same high school where she is now leading this group of young women only a few short years later.

“I think I have an advantage," she said. "I mean, I was just in their position like five years ago, so I remember what it was like, and the game of basketball is constantly changing, especially for girls. ... It’s been pretty easy for me to connect with them, which is really such a blessing."

McMaster, who played in college at Montana Tech, averaged 15 points per game while shooting nearly 50% from the 3-point line during her high school career at Jefferson. As a senior, the three-sport athlete averaged about 6 rebounds and over 2 assists per game and was selected to play in the prep showcase Treasure State Classic in Billings.

Now the coach, McMaster will be looking to develop a team that has only three seniors. One of those seniors is Mackenzie Layng, the daughter of former coach Sarah Layng.

“I’m looking forward to the growth of our girls and how we're growing together as a team and just the success that we’re going to keep having,” said Mackenzie Layng, who will be taking over the point guard position for the Panthers.

“I think being able to just translate over from like C-squad to JV to varsity, there’s a lot of differences," she added. "Even the atmosphere, like, varsity games are extremely loud, you (can) hardly think."

Fellow senior, post player Arena Faler, is looking forward to the new season with her new head coach.

“I am excited for it. I think it’s actually a cool experience. It helps because we know (McMaster) and stuff,” said Faler, who also competes in volleyball, rodeo and track and field. “Like Mackenzie said, just getting to play in front of our hometown crowd again, we haven’t played here since volleyball and it’s going to be fun."

“They’re just high schoolers. People forget that they are just kids. They go to school, they play volleyball, they do track, and it’s all awesome," McMaster said. "So, I just want them to work hard every day, and I know that every single one of them has something to bring to the team, so if they work hard and they’re great teammates, we’ll be successful.

“The girls are doing great. My assistant coaches are amazing, I cannot ask for a better coaching staff for my first year, for sure. ... I just couldn’t ask for more."

Jefferson will open up the year playing in the Red Lodge tournament this weekend before coming home to play in a non-conference game against Three Forks on Dec. 14.