LAUREL – It became clear several months ago that Laurel’s Pat Hansen would not only coach the school’s basketball boys again this season, but he’d also take on the girls challenge.
Hansen says he’s been a head coach in Montana for 24 years. He showcases boys state championships at Class C Gardiner, as well as in Laurel.
From the perspective of fans, parents and players, one of the big benefits to Hansen coaching both squads is that all Laurel games this varsity season are doubleheaders. Instead of the girls playing road games with the boys at home on any given night, or vice versa, they take the same court. That rarely happens among Class A and AA schools, but Hansen hopes it begins trending.
As for the immediate, Laurel’s girls are notably more uptempo.
“He tries to make it a point to get us up and down the court a lot faster and try to push the ball,” said forward Kaitlyn Daws. “We try to get looks on the easy transitions instead of trying to battle in the post with bigger girls that we know we’re going to be out-sized with.”
“We play man now,” guard Aspen Cotter said of the team’s defense. “We’ve been playing zone for the last three years. But we’re really quick, we’re kind of like a run-and-gun, up and down the court. We’re fast, so that helps.”
When asked if Hansen’s heavy workload seemed to be softening him up, boys forward Logan Kennedy could only smile.
“A lot of people have said he’s getting softer, but we don’t like to bring that up too much,” he joked. “No, he definitely hasn’t changed much. He’s still pushing us and wants us to be the best we can be and that’s what we love about him.”
“Ah, he’s about the same, not much of a difference,” deadpanned Gaje Leischner. “It’s good and bad, I guess.”
Laurel plays its next doubleheader Saturday in Miles City.