Girls' Basketball Preview: St. Pat's Irish

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The St. Pat's girls' basketball team lost only one game in the regular season last year, and were the one seed at State, but were upset in the first round. The Irish graduated five players last year, including four starters.

St. Pat's girls' basketball players during shoot-around at a practice early in the 2019-20 season (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)

The lone starter returning for the Irish is senior center Jocylin Sellers. The Irish have three other seniors on the team, in Julie Slattery, Kinsey Skillstad, and Graci Castillo, but have no juniors, so they will need to rely on younger players to contribute this season.

"We don't have our top five, or seven, or eight figured out. We're going to have a lot of new faces out there, but if they continue to work hard, we'll have a pretty good season," head coach Nate Stienike said.

Stienike will have a lot of decisions to make before the start of the season, but he believes this team has potential, and will improve as the year progresses.

"We might be a team that's going to look a lot better in February than we do here in November in December," Stienike said.

The players on the team are also excited about what the younger players can bring to the lineup.

"They're coming into practice, stepping up well, so I think we're going to have no problems with them at all," Skillstad said, "we have four seniors and we're all just trying to lead as best we can."

"We're just excited to see what this team can do. We have a lot of potential, a lot of freshmen coming up, and we have experienced seniors that know what they're doing, and just ready to get their playing time, and to their best and work hard for this team," Slattery said.

However, just because the Irish will have new players on the floor this year, does not mean Stienike will change what has worked in the past.

"We're rebounding, we're playing defense, we're shooting a lot of threes, and we want to play fast. So, our style of ball hasn't changed from last year, we're still going to play up tempo," he said.

"Our team really likes to focus on the little things, defense, rebounding, and working together as a team, because that's what makes our team good every year," Slattery said.

With Sellers returning in the paint, and Skillstad likely the forward joining her down low, the Irish figure to have a solid inside game this season, but can also shine from beyond the arc.

"Our posts are super strong, and they're always working hard so I definitely think we could be strong down low, but our shooters are forced to be reckoned with I believe," Slattery said.

"We're going to have to be really good defenders and big in the post and rebounding, but we have a lot of shooters," Skillstad said.

The Irish will open their season on the road at Broken Bow on Dec. 6.