North Gem High School
Conference: 1AD2 Rocky Mountain Conference
Classification: 1A D2
Head Coach: Joe Benglan
Years as Head Coach: 2nd season
Previous Experience: 5 years
Record Last Year: 14-11
Written by: Sven Alskog
Improvement was the name of the game for the North Gem Lady Cowboys throughout the course of last season, with plenty of it being shown as the year wore on.
It was the first season under new Head Coach Joe Benglan, making it a transitional year. However, the results on the floor speak for themselves.
Coming off what was a difficult 5-15 campaign the year prior, Benglan helped turn around the program, leading North Gem to a respectable 14-11 mark.
Making the turnaround even more exciting for the squad in Bancroft will be the return of two key contributors from last season in ShyCole Simmons and Justice Skeem.
The wing combo will be facing a new-look conference schedule this season.
Following a great career at Rockland High School, dominating interior presence Savanah Farr has graduated, leaving the Bulldogs searching for answers on how to replace her production.
On the other side of things, the Mackay Miners should be even more improved after advancing into the state championship game last year behind the outstanding production inside from Cheyan James. The Miners lost just two players from that squad last season.
Beyond those two squads, North Gem appears most likely to make some noise in the 1AD2 Rocky Mountain Conference this season.
All of the league losses for the Lady Cowboys last year came to either the Bulldogs or the Miners, including when they were eliminated in district tournament action to Mackay.
North Gem will have to do battle this year with a different style of play down low. Due to relative lack of height, coach Benglan will implement plenty of plays designed to get his guards touches close to the basket.
Against bigger squads the size disadvantage could become more glaring, namely against Mackay during the regular season. Expect the Lady Cowboys to push the tempo when necessary to utilize their speed, mitigating the need to battle down low as often.
Shae Donaldson was brought up by Benglan as a newcomer to watch this season.
With such a big turnaround coming in his first season roaming the sidelines, the expectations have soared for this new squad, something the team hopes to be able to live up to.
“[The] team is excited and ready to make a name for themselves,” said Benglan.