DAYVILLE - Under the direction of new head coach Maurice Thorne, the Monument/Dayville Lady Tigers basketball team is aiming for a return trip in February to the District 4-1A playoffs in Baker City.
Last season, Monument/ Dayville earned the tournament's No. 4 seed from the TriCo League, with an 8-6 league record and a 13-14 overall mark, and finished 1-2 in Baker City.
Monument/Dayville lost in the opening round to Crane before coming back with a victory over Harper, a team that had beaten the Tigers twice during the regular season, to reach the consolation championship.
In the consolation title game, Burnt River, the TriCo League regular season champion, handed the Tigers a 35-24 defeat to end the season.
With a number of experienced players returning to the lineup, including two second-team all-league performers and an experienced head coach, Monument/Dayville is looking forward to a successful season this year.
Thorne, the Dayville superintendent, is no stranger to Monument/Dayville and TriCo League basketball, and brings 22 years of coaching experience to the program.
"I coached here at Dayville in the 1960s and I spent 12 years coaching at Crane," he said. "I started my coaching career at Condon and also spent one year as a coach in Louisiana. In between times, I coach some little league and youth basketball."
The Tigers are led by senior Ashley Mund, who is in her fourth season on the varsity and was a second-team, all-league selection last year, and junior Emma Winkelman, who was also a second-team selection.
"I think we have a really good team," Mund said. "We've only had one practice and so far I think everyone is working well together and I think we are going to have a good season."
"Burnt River and Harper should have good teams and they are two of the teams we are going to have to beat," Winkelman said. "I don't think Spray is going to be that good this year. There's also Prairie City and Crane we have to think about, too."
Joining the group is junior Tiffnie Ashley, who was an honorable mention all-league player last year, and senior Jammie Adams, who is a three-year veteran.
Also returning to the lineup are sophomore Heather Saunders and senior Mandy Andersen, who has a lot of talent and was a all-league performer her sophomore year, but didn't play last season.
New players include junior foreign exchange students Franziska Sawatsky and Katherina Strobel, both from Germany, and Vanessa Feltrin from Brazil.
"Going to school here is really cool,' Strobel said. "I live in Berlin, where there is like 9 million people; so it was a change for me coming to a place this small, but that's OK. I really love it here and it's going to be fun playing basketball this year."
Monument/Dayville is loaded with first-year freshmen players, including Elizabeth Inscore, Tiffany Hunt, Sahara Derowitsch, Marley Winkelman, Denise Woosley, Amanda King and Jessica Flower; so the future for the Lady Tigers' program is looking bright as well.
With16 players out for the team, competition will be stiff for the five starting positions.
The Lady Tigers open the season with back-to-back games against Mount Bachelor Academy, playing the Bears in Monument on Tuesday, Nov. 30, and in Dayville on Thursday, Dec. 2. Tipoff time for both games is 5 p.m.