Niemann has Fillies on winning path

Posted 1/22/09

Though CHS failed to reach the 2008 Class 3A state tournament, the Fillies ended last season having made marked improvement. The squad also ended last season's campaign with a belief that more success was just around the corner.

So far, it …

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Niemann has Fillies on winning path


{gallery}01_22_09/kimniemann{/gallery}Cody head coach Kim Niemann directs her squad during a matchup with Powell High School during the 2007-08 season. Niemann, a 1993 graduate of PHS, will lead the Fillies against the Lady Panthers Friday at 5:45 p.m. in Cody. Tribune file photo by David Dickey Coach to face alma mater Friday nightWhen Kim Niemann took over as head coach of Cody High School's varsity girls basketball team prior to the 2007-08 season, she had a number of goals in mind for her squad. One such objective was to create a team with an unmatched work ethic in the Class 3A ranks. Under the direction of Niemann and assistant coach Jesseca Cross, early morning practices and countless hours of conditioning became commonplace for the Fillies. As they instilled a hard-working mentality, the Fillies' team chemistry developed, as did a desire to win.

Though CHS failed to reach the 2008 Class 3A state tournament, the Fillies ended last season having made marked improvement. The squad also ended last season's campaign with a belief that more success was just around the corner.

So far, it appears that belief was justified.

In only her second year at the helm, Niemann, who along with Cross, is a 1993 graduate of Powell High School, has taken the Fillies as high as No. 4 in the basketball rankings. CHS opened the season with a 7-1 mark, and the only blemish during those eight games was a 12-point setback to top-ranked Jackson, a team that has won two-consecutive state titles.

But for all the gains the Fillies have made, Niemann said her team is still young and has found itself struggling to find consistency since returning to the court following the holiday break.

“We've had a rough couple of weeks,” said Niemann, the daughter of retired Northwest College men's basketball coach Ken Rochlitz. “We were in a tournament in Douglas before Christmas, and the girls were playing really well at that point.

But since we got back from the holiday break, we've gone 1-2. We haven't been playing as well, so it almost feels like we're starting over a little bit.”

Since the 2009 portion of the season began, the Fillies have lost a pair of games by two-point margins. Lyman edged CHS 42-40 on Jan. 9, and last weekend the Worland Lady Warriors topped the Fillies 64-62 in a game that went into overtime.

Sandwiched between those losses was a 47-45 victory over Kemmerer. The silver lining, according to Niemann, is that those close games should help her young squad as the season continues.

“There are little things that are hurting us right now,” Niemann said. “Things like not boxing out and some of our decisions on the offensive end have been factors in our recent games. But I have to keep reminding myself that we have a lot of young players. Because of our youth and inexperience, we're still learning to make good decisions on the court.”

Niemann said something else has been noticeable during recent weeks. Her squad doesn't like losing.

“I've got a great group of kids, and they've been so willing to work hard,” Niemann said. “Because of that, I can tell it really bothers them when they lose. When they step out on the court, they feel like they deserve to win because of how much work they've put in to getting ready to play. After we lost to Worland last Saturday, we went back to practice Monday morning. We practice at 6, and the girls were there around 5:40. They were ready to get after it, and that shows just how much they want to be successful.”

With her team having lost two of its last three games, Niemann said a victory over second-ranked Powell High School Friday night would go a long way as far as boosting the Fillies' confidence level. However, she also knows that claiming an upset victory against a team that has built a 9-1 mark so far, won't be an easy task.

“Powell's basketball team had a lot of success last season, and they've been able to build on that,” Niemann said. “They've also got a lot of girls playing that were part of the state championship volleyball team. They've got a winning attitude that comes from being successful.”

When the Fillies and Lady Panthers square off at 5:45 p.m. Friday, Niemann said she expects a hard-fought contest. And judging by the statistics both teams have posted this season, points may be hard to come by for both squads.

Powell leads Class 3A in team defense and is surrendering just 25.5 points per game. The Fillies, who are giving up only 36.5 point per contest, rank third in 3A's standings for team defense.

“Our main strength is our defense, and our goal each game is to hold our opponent under 40 points,” said Niemann, who has an 0-3 mark against her alma mater. “We've played pretty well on that end of the court, but we did give up 64 points to Worland.”

Niemann said the Fillies used some different defensive schemes in that loss to the Lady Warriors, and it's likely her squad will return to what has worked best for them this season, which is man-to-man defense.