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CSC women optimistic about upcoming bball season

Scottsbluff's Hattie Guzman one of Chadron's returning starters

CHADRON – With five starters returning for another season and a handful of promising newcomers, the Chadron State College women's basketball team figures to be improved this season.

Both the CSC men's and women's basketball teams are beginning their preseason practices this week. The women's team will open its season on Nov. 1 at the University of Wyoming while the men will play their first game on Nov. 8 at Dickinson State in North Dakota.

The first home game for the women's team will be on Nov. 14 against Wayne State. The men will host South Dakota Mines on Nov. 19 for their home opener.

Last season, the Chadron State women finished with a 5-21 record. In Wednesday's Preseason Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Poll, the Eagles are projected to end the 2013-14 campaign tied for 13th in the 14-team league.

Led by Preseason Player of the Year, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs is picked to win the league. Colorado Mesa, last year's champion, picked up more first place votes than the Mountain Lions, though, and are just two points behind them in second place.

However, there's plenty of room for optimism for sixth-year head coach Tim Connealy. Particularly since all five starters return.

They include 6-foot senior Kattie Ranta, who is coming off an exceptional season, when she received second-team all-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference honors. She shot 46 percent from the field and made 80 of 100 free throws while averaging 15.5 points and 8.3 rebounds.

One of Ranta's highlights included becoming just the second CSC female player to score 40 points in a game.

Also back are 6-3 center Greer Babbe and the three starters in the backcourt-Dallas Shaw, Kate Simonton and Hattie Guzman.

Shaw, the team's main 3-point threat, averaged 10.3 points, Simonton chipped in 8.8 points a game, Guzman 6.5 and Babbe 4.0.

"I think all of them will be much more confident, comfortable on the court and be vastly improved this year," Connealy said.

Also on the roster is Kayli Rageth, a 6-foot senior who transferred to CSC in January and worked out with the Eagles the second semester. Connealy said he expects the former Kimball standout to make a big contribution in nearly all phases of the game, including leadership.

Five more players have been added to the roster. Height is supplied by 6-1 senior Leana Tajkov, a native of Serbia, and 6-foot freshman Maddie Metzger of Georgetown, Texas.

Connealy said Tajkov is a versatile player who moves well, doesn't mind contact and can take the ball to the basket. He said Metzger is strong and has a nice shooting touch.

New players in the backcourt include Kelsey Lemasney of Modesto, Calif., who appears to be a good shooter; Havannah Nevens, a Mitchell native who is scrappy, has a strong work ethic and good athleticism; and Allison Morrisette, a graduate of Bennett County High School at Martin, S.D., who has what Connealy calls "good instincts" and a quick release on her shot.

"We've got good kids who are becoming better basketball players all the time," Connealy said. "We'll have a lot more depth this year than we had a year ago.

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