Berthoud girls basketball aiming for state title

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

Since he took the reins of the program three years ago, the central focus for Berthoud High School (BHS) head girls basketball coach, Alan Gibson, has been continuous progress.

File photo – Berthoud’s Maddie Barcewski races down the court in a game last season at BHS. Barcewski is one of several talented and experienced players returning to a roster this seasonwho has designs on making a run at the 4A state championship.

So far, so good.

In his first season Berthoud improved from the No. 29 rank the season prior to the No. 17 rank. Last year BHS jumped to No. 8, reaching the 4A Great Eight round of the state tournament, their deepest advance since the 2007 squad that reached the state Final Four. This year the goal is to advance beyond the Great Eight and push for a title.

Does this year’s team have a state championship in them?

“Oh yeah, for sure, for sure,” junior guard Bre Fowler said at practice on Monday afternoon. “Our biggest team goal is to make it to the state championship,” added senior Emily Cavey.

The two star players’ optimism is not unwarranted. From last year’s squad Berthoud lost only three seniors to graduation – though one was All-State second team selectee Sydney Leeper – and returns a roster that is long on experience while also bringing tremendous depth and versatility.

In addition to Fowler, who was named All-Conference and All-State honorable mention last season, and Cavey, who missed two-thirds of her junior season after being named All-Conference and All-State honorable mention as a sophomore, the team sees the return of Maddie Barcewski, McKayla Milan, Ally Padilla and Celsey Selland, all of whom contributed mightily last year. The team’s depth this year goes even further with Annalise Carr, Anndee Davidson, Julianne Dennison, Carly Fisher, Carrie Kingston and Martha Rennaker rounding out the varsity roster, each of whom bring at least some measure of varsity experience.

“When we started three years ago we wanted to make sure one of our main objectives is to try to keep getting better each year, and we’ve done that the last two years,” Gibson remarked. “You get better every year by getting better every day.”

To be the best you have to beat the best, and Gibson has done everything in his power to assure Berthoud faces stiff competition early and often, even before the regular season begins next week.

“We’ve tried to schedule as many competitive environments and situations as we can against great teams. We’ve tried to up our opponents during this pre-preseason,” the coach said as he explained Berthoud faced off with 5A Fossil Ridge, competed in a tournament in Denver with some of the state’s best teams, will play a foundation game against Pueblo West, and will hold their two preseason scrimmages with Loveland High and Vista Peak, both of whom play at the 5A classification.

Long a proponent of adapting his on-court approach to his available talent, Gibson explained the team will have somewhat of a different look this season, despite having so many returning players.

“We had an offensive concept the past two years, and with this group it was just not working. It’s not conducive to our talents and abilities, so we got the trash can out at half court and we threw it away,” Gibson said. “If we want to get better and improve, we can’t stay how we were, so we’re always looking at making changes to get the most out of our kids.”

In addition to taking on stout competition prior to the beginning of the regular season, Gibson explained an emphasis has been placed on structuring practices to be as game-like as possible. “We’re making sure everything we do with our shooting is game spots, game shots, game speed,” Gibson said. “And defensively, we want to keep that chaos approach.”

Cavey acknowledged the team does have the talent and the depth to play with anyone in the state, saying, “We have so many girls out here who are capable of making shots and doing something and really making an effect on the team, and having so many players like that makes us really hard to defend,” and noted even through early practices and scrimmages, she has seen growth from the squad’s younger players.

Yet Cavey was quick to point out that to reach their goals the team will need to be remain cohesive, mentally sharp, and not lose their drive over the course of a nearly four-month long season.

“I think the biggest key is we need to build up camaraderie and team atmosphere, and I think we already have a lot of that, but it’s about always keeping our spirts high all year because the basketball season is just so long,” Cavey said. “It’s about having a positive bench and about always keeping our heads up no matter what.”

Fowler will serve as the team’s primary point guard this year, a role she shared with Leeper last season where she finished pacing Berthoud in points, assists, steals and three-pointers made. Like Cavey, Fowler remarked that chasing a state title will come down to some of the more intangible aspects, “I think it takes unselfishness. We need to pass the ball. When we work as a team, we do great things. We need to be unselfish and that will make us champions.”

“If we are better at the end of this year than we were at the end of last year, I think that constitutes what we’re after,” Gibson said. “If we continue to build the culture the right way and do things the right way, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”

Berthoud will open the 2019-20 season on the road with a trip to Evergreen on Dec. 4 before coming home to host the annual three-game Spartan Classic tournament that takes place Dec. 12 – 14.

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