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Wolves welcome new coach, hope to three-peat

Watford City senior Avery Sundeen shoots the ball against Dickinson High. (Press File Photo)1 / 2
Sundeen guards against a Dickinson High player in a 2015 matchup. (Press File Photo)2 / 2

The Watford City girls basketball team knows what victory feels like.

A 22-8 record in the 2016-2017 season propelled the Wolves to a second-straight Region 8 championship and trip to the Class B State Tournament.

Led by seniors MacKenzie Sparby and Ashley Killion, Watford City earned sixth place in the 2017 state tournament. The year before, the Wolves went all the way to the championship game before falling to Shiloh Christian 45-40.

While the Wolves will no doubt aim to keep doing what they're doing, there will be one big difference this season: a new coach.

Cary Veis steps into the mix in the middle of a successful reign and is still getting to know his team.

"Everything has been really new," Veis said. "Those kids play hard and have good energy."

Veis, who coaches physical education at Watford City, previously coached in Miles City before resigning from the position in 2012. Through his 27 years with the program, he accrued a 433-184 record and was inducted into the Montana Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006.

Even with a new leader, the Watford City girls will have a three-peat on their minds.

"Our expectations would be that we improve everyday, one practice, one game at a time," Veis said.

The nine girls on the roster kicked off their season Tuesday, Dec. 5 at the Roughrider tournament with a 69-38 win over Beulah.

"Our pressure defense got us turnovers and we capitalized on those," Veis said.

Senior Avery Sundeen led the Wolves with 17 points followed by freshman Ashley Holen who added 15 and junior Lindsey Peterson who contributed 10 points.

Holen is one of three freshman joining the varsity team this season. Lida Lehto is the other senior beside Sundeen.

Veis said both the defense and offense his team played on Tuesday matched his expectations.

"Our offense is transitional," he explained. "We try to push the ball up and get the good and open shot."

With no one taller than 5-foot-9, Veis said his team will have to focus on shooting a good 3-point percentage and not getting outrebounded, one of which they accomplished against Beulah.

The Wolves shot 80 percent from behind the arc, and tallied 20 total rebounds, bested by the Miners' 23 rebounds.

"The key is to improve everyday," Veis said. "And these kids have great team chemistry. They get along both on and off the court."

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