ENNIS – After winning the Class C state volleyball title in November, the Ennis girls basketball team has had little time to relax.
“They didn’t have a chance to calm down after volleyball or get a break at all,” assistant coach Mady Speck said. “Having Christmas break and getting to just relax and get away from sports for a little bit, be with family, and go do what they really wanted to do was definitely a benefit for them.”
“I think it helped a little bit,” senior guard Josie Hokanson said about the time off. “I mean, like, we were so excited after winning state, and I think it just makes us even more excited for basketball season.”
The Mustangs really began to hit their stride after Christmas break, and racking up a conference victory over rival Twin Birdges was a boost to the their confidence as tournaments approach.
“We have, coming out of that, a great chance of being conference champions,” Speck said of the win over Twin Bridges. “Having that on our back is a great feeling just because we know that we’re the strongest one in the conference. Having that win over Twin is a huge confidence booster for us. That’s the hardest part with them, just knowing you can beat them.”
“We definitely were really excited for that game, and we really wanted to beat them because we haven’t in a long time,” junior forward Jourdain Klein said. “I think it’s given us the confidence that we need going further in the season.”
With the cancellation of the Harrison girls basketball season, Ennis and Twin Bridges looked for one more game to play. This time, the Falcons edged the Mustangs in a non-conference matchup between the two. However, all that remains for Ennis to clinch their regular season conference championship is a home game against Drummond on Feb. 9.
Although Ennis may go in as the top seed, the Mustangs know navigating their way through the district and divisional tournaments will have its challenges.
“I definitely think we need to make sure we really communicate, because I think we kind of struggle with that a little bit,” Hokanson said. “But I think if we do that and work as a team, we’ll get it done.”
“Just being smart,” Speck said as the biggest obstacle to success. “Being together as a team and not letting distractions get in between us, being selfless, not caring about who’s scoring the ball, just scoring the ball, and just playing hard every play that we get.”
Ennis features something rarely seen around the state: two girls standing taller than 6-foot. The towering presences of Danyel Martin and Klein patrol the middle, allowing Hokanson and the other guards to pressure opponents along the perimeter. The length and athleticism they boast often disrupts opposing offenses.
“They’ve really dominated in the key for us,” Speck said in reference to Martin and Klein. “We have three, four tough guards with one coming off the bench, which has really helped. Being able to shoot along the 3-point line really opens up the key to where our big girls can dominate underneath.”
“I think it’s really hard because most girls are not our height,” Klein said. “If they have a tall girl on their team, it’s usually just one, and they can’t guard both of us with one girl. So I think that really plays to our advantage, for sure.”
The strongest component in the Mustangs’ locker room? Chemistry.
“I don’t think I see any of them anywhere without two together,” Speck said with a smile. “So they’re very close, which definitely helps on the court.”
“I think we’re a family on and off the court,” Klein said. “I love all these girls. They’re my best friends.”
“We definitely are all super good friends. We hang out all the time,” Hokanson said. “I mean, I think that really helps on the court. It definitely helps with our communication and just, like, trusting each other on the floor.”