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Bees Holding on Through Rollercoaster Season
Coaching changes and a reshaped roster in 2020 have the defending champs fighting for a chance at the postseason
Published: 1/25/2021 12:23:43 PM
 

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Any way you look at it, the last 11 months or so have been surreal for the Bonneville High School girls basketball program.

First, there was the historic undefeated season and state championship. Then, the surprising coaching change. Then, another. They’ve been followed by unfamiliar losing streaks as the program tries to recover from the departure of nine seniors, plus its two coaching swaps. All of this was unimaginable 11 months ago, when Bonneville was on top of Idaho basketball.

But that’s the reality for the defending 4A state champions and their new coach, Andy Trane, who is suddenly tasked with guiding the Bees through a transition season. Together, they’re enduring the abrupt downturn of a journey that’s spent the last few years cruising toward its climax.

“Kind of an interesting rollercoaster,” said Trane, who has led Bonneville to a 6-13 record thus far.

Trane wasn’t coaching at Bonneville in any capacity this time last year, when the Bees were asserting themselves as the 4A title favorites. Ryan Erikson was at the helm then, guiding a dominant squad, led by nine seniors, to a 27-0 record and a state championship. It was Bonneville’s third consecutive 20-win season and, finally, the state title that eluded the program during those other strong seasons was in its possession.

But Erikson resigned shortly after the season — his only one as Bonneville’s head varsity coach. His successor would inherit a mostly inexperienced roster devoid of the steely senior leadership it enjoyed under Erikson.

In May, Bonneville announced Shaun Messick as that new coach. Soon after, Messick tapped Trane to be his assistant. Then in September, with the 2020-21 season in view, Messick abruptly stepped down. Trane, though he had no prior varsity coaching experience, was thrust into the role.

His coaching background spans about 10 years and includes stints at the youth, city league, junior high and AAU ranks. He was also the head coach of Bonneville’s freshman girls team in 2018-19.

So he was familiar with some of Bonneville’s players from their days together in middle school and freshman-year ball. But he also knew how much talent and experience the Bees lost from the previous season. Only one player on Trane’s team had played varsity before he took over.

“I was and am still optimistic with this group,” Trane said. “But I realized there were some challenges. We only had one girl return to the team that had varsity experience. A pretty young team, inexperienced team.”

Trane injected his own style into the playbook, but the Bees’ tenets remain strong defense and transition offense. Still, it took awhile for everything to take shape. Bonneville’s only returning player with varsity experience is senior Sydnee Hunt who, though she was a starter and earned honorable mention all-conference recognition last season, told the Post Register that she was merely a “filler player” in the background of star Sadie Lott and the rest of Bonneville’s seniors.

Now, Hunt — one of four seniors — is the Bees’ go-to player. And her inexperienced teammates are logging big minutes.

It’s yielded up-and-down results. Bonneville hasn’t been above .500 this season and, between Dec. 5 and Dec. 15, suffered a four-game losing streak. It was the first time since 2015 that the Bees lost more than two consecutive games.

But the Bees have faced a challenging schedule. Their first six games were against 5A competition and they played seven of their first nine games on the road. Through all of that, Bonneville only lost one real blowout, a 66-32 stinker Nov. 24 at Rigby. (Rigby handled Bonneville again, 60-30, on Jan. 20).

Games against Rigby aside, Bonneville’s average margin of defeat is 8.7 points.

Given the circumstances, the struggles are defensible for Trane and the Bees. But critics might not see it that way. On its surface, 6-13 is a meteoric fall from 27-0.

“It’s hard, because there’s a lot of pressure coming off of a championship, undefeated season,” Trane said. “Bonneville, the last five years, has done very, very well. So there’s a lot of pressure and the girls feel it. There’s a winning culture and tradition here and it’s hard not to get a little bit discouraged when you’re dropping close games and feel like your record should be better than what it is. But I feel like our girls have handled it well.”

Trane hopes he and his players can put this season into perspective and keep incremental improvements and the growth of the program in mind. Trane’s rotation includes five juniors and one freshman, setting up for a prosperous future.

“As competitive as anyone is, you don’t want to lose, but I think you understand the situation and the facts of what it is,” Trane said. “And you also look to develop those kids and develop the program for next year and the year after that.”


 


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