PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Dawson-Boyd ready to improve going into the 2017-18 season

DAWSON – A year ago the Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks finished with a 7-17 record and lost to the Wabasso Rabbits in the opening round of the section tournament. This season the Blackjacks will return four starters from last year’s team and will look to improve upon last year’s win total.

“The goal is to get better each day,” Dawson-Boyd coach Justin Wager said. “After that the goal is to extend the season as far as we can in the section tournament.”

The strength of this year’s team will be the play in the backcourt. Alex Sather returns as the team’s leading scorer from last year. Sather’s running mate in the backcourt will sophomore, Avery Bartunek. Sather and Bartunek combined to score 24 of the team’s 44 points during their season opening win on the road against Montevideo.

“Our backcourt has two years of experience now with Alex Sather and Avery Bartunek,” Wager said. “Those two will be our primary ball handlers. They are good at driving to the basket and getting the offense going.”

Bartunek said that Sather does a great job of getting everybody involved on offense.

“Alex’s greatest strength is her ball handling skills,” Bartunek said. “She has the capability to dribble through almost any defense. She’s also a great playmaker. She sets the team and myself up for many scoring opportunities. She’s also amazing at getting to the free throw line.”

Mary Bothun is one of the four returning starters from last year’s team. The junior forward scored nine points during the team’s season opener.

Dawson-Boyd’s play in the backcourt will be their calling card all season. How far the team goes will depend on how well they rebound. The Blackjacks grabbed just 16 rebounds in the season opening win and Wager said the team’s lack of size is an area of concern.

“We have a lack of height,” Wager said. “We need to focus on rebounding and getting into position. We are not going to be able to out jump people.”

An X-factor for the the Blackjacks is the new starter, Morgan Johnson. Wager said that the junior guard brings a lot of energy on the defensive end of the court.

“Our new starter is Morgan Johnson,” Wager said. “She gives great defensive effort. That showed in our first game.”

The Blackjacks haven’t won a playoff game since the 2014-2015 season. The goal for this year’s team is to put an end to that playoff drought.

“Our goal for this season is to just get to the SMSU floor and play further into the playoffs,” Bartunek said.