By Dave Maxwell

Special to The Ely Times

Tylar Laity, the White Pine High girls soccer coach, takes over at the helm of the White Pine two-time defending 2A state champion girls basketball team this season.

“It’s my first year as the head coach,” Laity said. “For a couple of years I was the girls JV coach. And before that, I coached the girls that are juniors and seniors this year when they were in middle school. I’ve kind of just followed them up to where they’re at.”

Justin Locke will be the assistant coach. Locke had been the JV girls coach until Laity came in.

Former coach Krystal Smith fulfilled a dream of her own following last season and entered the college ranks at Great Falls University in Montana as an assistant coach. Great Falls was 24-11 last year, advanced to the NAIA national quarterfinals before losing to the University of Pikeville (Kentucky).

The Ladycats return five lettermen from last year’s team, including two starters as well as senior guard Mikinley Prengel. Laity said he thinks junior Brittany Kingston “can be a standout post this year. She has been under the shadow of her older sister Debra the past couple of years, but I think she will be able to create a legacy of her own.”

The Cats were was 27-6 last year, finished second to Lincoln County in league play, but won the league tournament over Agassi Prep, then went on to edge Incline 44-43 for their second consecutive title and third since 2005.

The other top Ladycats are expected to be seniors Jenna Gubler, Michayla Cessford.

But a new coach is not the only new wrinkle for the team, so is a new league as the Ladycats have moved from the Southern League to the more competitive Northern League.

“We’re young because we only have the two returning starters, but I think we have a great team overall,” Laity said. “We’re going to look to run the ball a lot and score a lot on transition.”

Being in the 2A Northern league is going to be a real challenge for the team Laity says. Incline, the team White Pine edged 44-43 for the title last year, will likely be strong again. The Highlanders have been in the state finals the past three years and will be looking to return.

Battle Mountain, White Pine, West Wendover, Pershing County will also be competing for the two berths to the state tournament.  “I like the North better because of the competitiveness,” Laity said. “In the South, it was either a good game or a blowout.  There are really just the top four teams in the South, and other than that, you’re winning by 30-40 points.  But in the North, there are going to be some very competitive games where we are going to have play our best. We’re looking for a new beginning with a new coach.”