L-C still keeping expectations high

Tribune/Rebecca NobleLewis-Clark State women’s basketball coach Brian Orr speaks at a news conference with (from left) Jansen Edmiston, Hannah Burland and Jamie Nielson.

The Lewis-Clark State women’s basketball team reached the NAIA tournament’s Elite Eight last season.

The Warriors will seek to build on that momentum in their 2019-2020 campaign, which they’ll open today playing nonleague foe Yellowstone Christian College (11 a.m., Activity Center).

“We always have the same main goals,” redshirt junior Jansen Edmiston said. “The big goals, and that’s a national championship, (a) conference tournament championship and the conference championship.”

The Warriors lost four of their top five scorers from last season but feature two talented point guards: Peyton Souvenir (who’s averaged 3.8 assists her first two seasons) and Edmiston (who averaged 3.5 assists and 10 points during 17 games in 2017-2018 before suffering a season-ending knee injury that forced her to redshirt last season).

Both Souvenir and Edmiston can penetrate defenses off the dribble, creating open layins for posts and wide-open looks for shooters.

“I’m very, very, very close (to being 100 percent recovered),” said Edmiston, who tore her ACL, MCL and dislocated her knee in a game on Jan. 13, 2018. “Like, every day, I feel like, ‘Oh, I did that. I didn’t get to do that before.’ And I get excited in my head. I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s so exciting.’

“And I don’t know if (I’ll) ever be 100 percent ... but I’m really, really close and I feel confident again.”

The Warriors will visit three NCAA Division I opponents this season in exhibitions: Montana (this Friday), Idaho (Nov. 1) and Boise State (Nov. 5).

“I always say a team comes together on the road,” Warriors coach Brian Orr said, “so we’re going to come together really quick. We better.”

Forward Abbie Johnson, L-C’s top returning scorer, averaged 8.2 points last season and ranked second on L-C in rebounds (5.8 per game).

“We’re going to be hard to stop offensively,” Orr said. “How well we can defend — that’s going to be the key. If we can defend and rebound, then we’ve got a chance to be really good.”

LAST YEAR IN THE FRONTIER — This will mark the Warriors’ last season in their Montana-centric league, the Frontier Conference — and Orr hardly sounded disappointed.

“To me, the great thing about this year is it’s the last time we have to make trips to Montana,” Orr said. “Those bus trips, it’s been enough. It’s been 19 years, it’ll be my 19th year making those trips. And as you know, when (the league) lost teams, I think it’s gotten tougher.”

The Warriors will travel more than 4,800 miles to play their nine conference road games.

Added Orr, “Going to Billings twice now and to Havre twice — no, I mean, there’s no nostalgia here.”

CONFERENCE NOTES — League coaches picked the Warriors to finish fourth in the FC in a preseason poll and included no one from L-C on the preseason all-conference team.

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Edelman may be contacted at bedelman@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2277.

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