The feeling of “oh, so close” has been shoved in the closet this winter for the Broken Bow girls basketball team.
Coach Kelly Cooksley’s team has advanced to the district final round each of the past two seasons. But, the Indians lost to eventual finalist Lincoln Christian in 2019 and last season, as the 3-seed, they dropped a game to Adams Central, who had been through the rigors of the mostly Class B Central 10 conference and finished third at state.
Despite that, Cookley’s unbeaten and fourth-ranked Indians aren’t really focused on a trip to Lincoln this year, which would be the first to state since Broken Bow won the state championship in 2003.
“Before the season, we talked with the girls about what some of things are that might hold them back as a player or with our team,” Cooksley said. “Out of that, we learned that our theme there was the pressure to perform and succeed.
“So, this group has really embraced enjoying each moment they have together.”
It’s been plenty good so far as the Indians head into another tough week that features games with Kearney Catholic (6-7) on Thursday and Class C-2, No. 8 Wood River (11-1) on Friday. The battle tested Stars just played top-ranked Grand Island Central Catholic to a two-point game last Friday.
The Indians themselves are fresh off a 3-0 week where they topped Class B Holdrege and McCook and then defeated Oakland-Craig 50-37 in the first-ever Nebraska Girls Basketball Showcase that Cooksley started this season. In winning four games last week, Bow scored 57, 65, 30 and 50 points.
“As I watch basketball, it always feels like really good teams can win games different ways,” the coach said. “This team has some of that in them. Holdrege really slowed it down on us, we had a big second quarter against Oakland-Craig and we have had some close first half games and then pulled away after halftime.
“We’ve been winning with different styles.”
The Indians eight-player rotation features three seniors, four juniors and a freshman, but Cooksley notes that all 18 of his players “have really accepted their role on this team and do there part to make us better.”
Juniors Kya (14.6 points) and Kailyn Scott (10.5 points) lead the Indians in scoring, with point guard Kali Staples — a Doane University pledge — averaging nine points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists per contest. Cooksley said the steady influence of Staples has been key to the Indians success.
“She’s been great to coach for four years,” the coach said of Staples. “She’s close about a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio and, as a team, we only average about 10 turnovers per game. She always has everyone in the right spot and does a great job if we see pressure.”
Cooksley said the Scott twins have both matured as scorers from their sophomore to junior years. Kya leads the team in three-point baskets and Kailyn leads the team in steals.
“I think both of them both really matured into a ‘next play’ kind of attitude,” Cooksley said. “They are both playing with no memory and just moving on if something bad happens.”
Senior Kassidy Cyboron (5 points and 5.3 rebounds) and junior Callie White (2.1 points and 3.1 rebounds) while sharing time with Joscelyn Coleman (4.3 points, 1.3 rebounds) and senior Emma Schall (2.0 points and 6.0 rebounds). Freshman Hallie McCaslin puts in five points and three rebounds a contest.
“We have a group of kids there that just does their job and knows their role,” Cooksley said. “They don’t make many mistakes. They come in each day to get better and make our team better.”
And, while a trip to Lincoln could be on the horizon in 2021, Cooksley is happy he is coaching a team that is just trying to go 2-0 this weekend.
“The most determined, unselfish group I have ever been around,” he said. “With them it’s always next play, next practice, next game.”
Seems like a good recipe to play in March.