HELENA -- The Helena High girls basketball team is a little less than a week removed from its 55-37 win over the Bozeman Hawks on Dec. 12. Now headed into the final two games of the preseason before the team resigns for the holiday break, the main goal is to build rapport among the roster.
"We just want our chemistry to be there, because we lost a lot and lot of people are coming up, so I guess chemistry is more important than watching film on other people," said senior Emily Feller.
The Bengals know preseason games aren't meaningless. At the end of the season they could serve as a tie-breaker to see what teams go to the state tournament and and what teams don't. Though with the introduction of the divisional tournament into Class AA basketball, the games serve a purpose akin to spring training in Major League Baseball -- to see what schemes work and to develop younger players. However, with a roster of new players to catch up to speed and only so much time, coach Eric Peterson knows it could come at a cost.
"Right now, it's kind of hard because we have so much stuff to put in to get ready for all these games. You never know what they're going to throw at you, especially early on. So, we're trying to be as prepared as possible, but in doing so you're you're thinning things out a little bit," said Peterson.
That mindset is leading Peterson to focus less on breaking down opposing team's film and focus more on developing his team's skills.
"All these preseason games, leading up to the conference (schedule), we're worried about ourselves mostly. We're not going to watch as much film as we normally would on the teams that are in our conference, we only see these guys once," said Peterson. "We're really focused on ourselves and trying to get better offensively and defensively, and just get the little kinks out before we start conference play."
Before the Bengals get to the conference season, they'll have the brief respite of a holiday break. Peterson's varsity squad boasts a number of volleyball players, and after a deep postseason run by the Bengals volleyball team, he knows most of them need a break to rest, heal any nagging injuries and mentally recharge away from a competitive atmosphere.
"I'm so excited, this year we get more days off. I guess (Peterson)'s being generous," said Feller with a chuckle. "I'm really excited just to be with family and enjoy this Christmas."
Though not everyone is as excited to take some time away from the court.
"I'm not super excited. You know, I hate to be away that long, but I think it'll be good, get healed up, ready to go for when we're back after Christmas," said senior Riley Thennis. "We'll still shoot around. It'll be a good week off with our families, but I'm excited to come back and get going again."
The Helena High Bengals will wrap up their pre-conference schedule by hosting the Billings Senior Broncs on Dec. 20 and the Billings West Golden Bears on Dec. 21.