Hellgate Knights Girls Basketball Continuing To Improve
They aren't at the top of the league standings, but they are improving under the direction of first year head coach Gary McLaughlin, and it's all part of him trying to instill a winning culture with Hellgate girls basketball.
"It's hard, the kids haven't had much success, so they've got to find a way to learn how to win, and I think they're really doing a great job at trying to find out what we're trying to do here, and they're playing hard and I'm just excited to be here," says McLaughlin.
The team's improvement is easy to see with the closer scores and more wins this season than last year, however the team has struggled against the top squads in AA.
"I think part of it is that we're young, we have a lot of juniors and sophomores playing varsity right now, we have no seniors and we have a new coach, so it's just taking a lot of getting used to and stuff, but I think next year we'll be doing good," says Hellgate junior forward Lexi Duce.
The optimism is there, mainly because the team has had more wins this season than any player on the team has seen before.
"Our first AA win was against Butte, and it was the first one in a long time, and our first conference win against Flathead a few weeks later, the kids really had a lot of fun with it, and I think it gave them a lot of incentive to get better every day, and I think more of those will come this way," says McLaughlin.
But for every game they've won, they've lost several more, but even in defeat, the team continues to play hard until the very end, without sulking and getting down on themselves.
"I think it's really important, because afterward if you don't play four quarters, you feel a lot worse than if you had continued and played it all the way through," says sophomore guard Kylie McWilliams.
That positive attitude and work ethic has the team thinking big picture.
"I think in the next couple years we're going to be really good, because most of the programs in Missoula and around have a lot of seniors who are graduating, so I think it will really help that we've already had our young girls get varsity playing time even though it's hurting us a bit right now, it will definitely help us for the future," says Duce.