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There's a new sheriff in town - Cowboys answer to a new coach

Grant County senior guard Alexis Bentz looks to get around Cowboys junior guard Shawnee Hansen during the 2018 Class B Girls Basketball State Final on Saturday, March 3, from the Minot State Dome. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)

After winning the Region 7 title and concluding the 2017-18 season as the Class B state runner up with a 22-5 record, the Killdeer girls basketball team looks a lot different.

Not only did the Cowboys lose the powerful pair of forward Trae Murray and guard Sydney Anderson, but Ashlee Viveros is no longer behind the bench. Taking over for the team is Chad Dahlen, who was most recently the coach of the Cowboys boys "C" squad.

"There's definitely some big shoes to fill with Coach Viveros and the job she did last year with Trae and Sydney and the rest of the seniors that all graduated last year," Dahlen said. "It's not too intimidating, because I know a lot of the seniors and juniors and sophomores coming up are some really good basketball players as well. They've been taught the right way, so it wasn't where I had to do a lot of reteaching or working on the basics. They were grounded very well in the basics."

Dahlen spent the preseason trying to mesh what the players were good at with the style of basketball that he favors. It's still early, but he thinks he's found a working blend.

"We got to rely on all 10 of our players, where last year they had two solid players and a bunch of role players," Dahlen said. "This year, we have a bunch of role players each trying to find their role on the team. ... It's been interesting to see how the seniors have taken up that leadership responsibility, and all the juniors have also stepped up and taken on that leadership role as well."

While overall inexperience is one of the biggest weaknesses for the girls in black and orange, Dahlen admits that he himself could be considered a weakness for the time being until he adjusts to the high school girls varsity level.

Despite the big changes, a few things have stayed the same — for one, the athleticism and abilities of the returners, especially senior guard Shawnee Hansen.

In the Cowboys season opener, a 63-60 victory over Stanley on Tuesday, Nov. 27, Hansen netted a game-high 17 points.

"She just has such a great work ethic and just a really good leader and her level of athleticism is just freakish," Dahlen said of the senior. "Then we got (senior guard) Steena Larsen who is a state champion in track and field and she's very athletic. She's not the fastest, she can't jump the highest, but she's just so dang smart and she's always at the right place at the right time."

Rounding out the senior class is Melayna Four Bear, Karly Bang and Kylee Boltz.

The scoring depth runs into the junior class. In the team's second game of the season, a 60-41 loss to Shiloh Christian, junior guard Shyanne Oversen led all players with 16 points, followed by junior guard Chelsey Morlock who netted six.

Between the success of last season, having two college track and field commits in Hansen and Larsen, as well as champion rodeo rider Bang, the Cowboys know how to win.

"That championship mindset that all three of those girls have is really contagious on the rest of the team where they just have that desire where they don't want to lose," Dahlen said.