Yuma girls begin 3A era this weekend

It is a new beginning of sorts for the Yuma High School girls basketball team.
Yuma still has a lot of familiarity to it in regards to coaching and the players. However, the program will be entering a new era of being a Class 3A team Friday in The Pit when its hosts Manual in the 2022-23 season opener.

At least it was going to, but the Friday games have been called off due to the wind and road conditions. It will be rescheduled to another date.
The program has reached at least the regional final every season but one since 2012, and has advanced at least to the quarterfinals in all but two seasons. That includes last year, when Yuma lost at Rye in the regional final, finishing 10-12.
The Yuma team will remain in the Lower Platte Activities Association, but the school has scheduled as many 3A teams as possible during the regular season.
It begins Friday against a Manual Thunderbolts team that went just 4-14 last season, losing in the first round of the playoffs. Head coach Jeremy Robinson said he does not know much about them, other than who returns this season and their stats. He said last season’s leading scorer has graduated.
“For us, it’s a great season opener, I hope,” Robinson said. “I’m a little nervous, but not terribly worried, if that makes sense. I think we should be okay.”
Yuma makes a quick turnaround to play at Yuma County-rival Wray, Saturday afternoon. The Eagles finished 12-12 last season, eliminated in the regional final like Yuma. The teams split last year’s series, each winning on the other’s homecourt. Long-time coach Dr. David Reed has retired, with Melanie Godsey taking over the reigns.
Because of that, Robinson said he is not sure what to expect Saturday, which is the Eagles’ season opener. Wray lost several key starters from last year’s team.
“They kind of worry me,” he said. “Their JV was pretty salty last year. They look good coming off the bus, long and athletic looking.”
It will be a Top 10 matchup as Yuma ranked No. 7 in the 3A Top 10, while Wray is No. 9 in 2A (CHSAANow.com preseason polls).
Yuma returns several key pieces from last season, and also has a core of promising youngsters.
Robinson said he has a solid group of 10 set for varsity, including seniors Lea Richardson, Liddy Day, Lyndsey Mekelburg, and Jazmine Sotelo, juniors Caddis Robinson, Ashley Ibanez, Jailyn Mekelburg and Emma Rayl, and sophomores Jade Lungwitz and Alina Moran.
“That leaves a couple of spots for later in the year that some of the younger girls can earn,” Robinson said.
The coach has noted that a focus to this season is becoming better in halfcourt sets against zone defenses. Part of that is improved three-point shooting.
“We struggled last year in zone offensive sets,” Robinson said. “This year they’re just seeing it easier and better. They’re moving the ball better, at least in scrimmages against ourselves.
“…I think it’s just a year of maturity, another year of basketball,” he said. “It seems like it has made a huge difference.”
The Yuma girls still will try to play pressure defense, and push in the transition game for as many “easy” looks as possible. Though not blessed with much height at the varsity level, Yuma does have toughness, quickness and athleticism, which should play nicely into their style of play.
“We’re getting it figured out,” Robinson said. “We can tweak something in practice without having to spend a lot of time on it, which will be helpful during games. I am impressed with a good core of them for sure.
“I am super excited for this weekend.”