By Michael Kinney
The Mustang girls basketball team surprised a lot of people last season. After compiling a 17-11 record and a spot in the postseason, the Lady Broncos opened some eyes around the state.
However, this year, the Lady Broncos aren’t looking to surprise anyone. Their journey in 2016 has helped them prepare to reach their goals for this season.
“I say around mid-January, I think we finally realized what our true potential was,” Mustang coach Kevin Korstjens said. “I think we kind of thought we were good enough to make it to the state tournament and play with those elite teams and beat them, and I think once we kind of got around mid-January last year, we kind of hit our stride and had some really key wins that I felt like we could tell a big difference, just in the body language and the focus of our girls, what it takes to be one of those elite programs that are going to the state tournament pretty regularly or at least battling to get to the state tournament.
“I think it’s really carried over,” Korstjens continued. “That’s kind of what I was saying about the maturity and the no excuses where they come to school every day.”
Now with a veteran squad making Mustang’s roster, Korstjens sees his team being better able to handle the long season and everything that comes with.
“I think we’re very hungry, you know, very mature team, especially we have some seniors, but it’s not a huge class,” Korstjens said. “We’ve got only six, but a very mature, very hungry, very disciplined. They don’t make a lot of excuses. They don’t come up with reasons to miss practice. They’re here all the time. They kind of set the example for the younger kids. You can kind of just point to those older girls, our juniors and seniors especially, as a reference to how we do things and what we expect.”
The Lady Broncos have several upperclassmen the coaching staff will turn to throughout the season.
“They’re doing a great job in the classroom and in the community. They carry that on into the practice gym, into the weight room, even through bad days,” Korstjens said. “They don’t make excuses that they don’t feel good and not show up. They’re still here working hard and know it’s a day-to-day grind, which is what people like to say. You can’t just take random days off if we want to be playing in March.”
There are four players specifically Korstjens and his staff will rely on for leadership. They include Alice Foreman, Amber Metzinger, Mia Brown and Curtiera Haywood
“Haywood is coming back for her junior year. She’s been a starter for the last two years, extreme talent, continues to blossom and develop,” Korstjens said. “Her talent every year, and she works her tail off to expand her game, always trying to add different elements. Then you look at Mia Brown, our point guard who is just super talented, super quick. We had a scrimmage yesterday, and there as a couple of times where she’s so fast about getting the ball down the floor and her vision, I kind of caught myself being a spectator a few times and just saying, “Wow! What a pass. What a look. Wow, how athletic she is.”
The season tips off Nov. 26 when the Lady Broncos host Deer Creek at 6 p.m.