Highlands girls basketball team looking to build off transition year

Sunday, November 24, 2019 | 5:15 PM

In her first year at the helm of the Highlands girls basketball team, Courtney Udanis, a former Golden Ram herself, set out to adjust the mentality of the program, something that had changed significantly since her time in Natrona Heights.

“It was definitely a transition year,” Udanis said. “Just kind of enforcing my mindset on the program versus what was here prior. Kind of completely changing how the program should be seen. They went from a program that would only practice at the start of the school year, to practicing all year long. So, it was trying to completely change that mentality. But it’s finally starting to get through.”

Although the statistical results didn’t manifest in her first season — the Golden Rams finished 2-20 — Udanis was able to show her team how much work it would to take to turn the program around.

Throughout the offseason, the Golden Rams were able to build on what they started during the season. They played in summer leagues, attended camps, and started to improve over the course of the offseason. One player who saw the benefits of the offseason work was sophomore guard Maria Fabregas.

“It’s definitely going to help us work together more as a team this season,” Fabregas said. “Just staying conditioned over the summer will help us be ready right at the beginning, rather than taking the beginning of the season to get conditioned. Now, we’ll be ready right away.”

Heading into her second year, Udanis is hoping to take that next step with her program. After instilling the necessary work ethic, she wants to install systems, gameplans and whatever it takes to turn Highlands into a winning program.

“Now that we have that mentality set, we can move forward into the actual gameplanning,” Udanis said. “We can actually get to the learning and the gameplanning part of the season.”

Part of that will be getting her team to improve in transition. She wants her team to get up and down the court quickly. Because of challenges that came changing the culture last year, the Golden Rams didn’t get to that aspect.

“This year that is my goal: getting them running up and down,” Udanis said. “The transition, making transitions, running more, being a quicker team and trying to get the fast breaks and get the easy layups. Ideally that’s what I’d like to do. That’s what my team did, and we were pretty successful off of that.”

The Golden Rams have a roster that might fit that mold, but they also will be young. Sophomore Fabregas will run the point, and sophomore Joselyn Luzier will contribute in the paint. Three or four of Udanis’ starters will be underclassmen, which could bode well for the future.

“Two of them were freshmen last year, so I’ll still have a good amount of years,” Udanis said. “So, they are young, but at the same time, they had last year to gain some experience and we did a lot this summer. So that is huge for them.”

The Golden Rams start their season at 3 p.m. Dec. 6 at the St. Joseph tournament when they take on Vincentian Academy.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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