The start of a new season for Laramie Lady Plainsmen basketball brings with it high expectations, as Laramie returns a veteran squad.

It’s a different feeling than a year ago when Laramie was just getting to know its new coach. Laura Pollard begins her second season at the helm of the program, and she’s had a full off-season to be with her team. A year ago, it was about six-to-seven weeks, and then the season started.

The Lady Plainsmen fell short of qualifying for the state tournament and that is a big goal for this season. With four starters and nine letterwinners returning, coach Pollard says they’re ready to go.

“The biggest thing I remember is losing the regional game, and Bridgette Johnson saying, now I get it; we should’ve been there; we should’ve beat Sheridan.”

That loss has provided a lot of motivation in the off-season for the Lady Plainsmen. Pollard said they’ve had great senior leadership in the off-season, and they got to know each other a lot better.

“They’re working very, very hard… even thinking back to over the summer, a couple of seniors, Kade Setright and Olivia Dorrell, were talking about, we want to go to State, coach… I think they’re really focused.”

This season’s squad will be led by six seniors. That includes four-year starters in Setright and Eliza Dickinson, plus Johnson, Dorrell, Morgan Bury and Caitlyn Cox. Add to the mix two more returning starters in junior Lexi Pulley and sophomore Jennifer Aadland. Aadland was second team All-State and an All-Conference selection in the 4A East. Pulley received honorable mention all-conference. Junior Alexis Manley is also a returning letterwinner.

Laramie opens at the 2016 Bill Strannigan Basketball Tournament in Riverton. They will play four games over the next three days.

Pollard says, “That’s a little rough, especially when you just have those nine days of practice (to get ready)… I’ve been working them pretty hard... but the biggest thing with all of it is we have some depth. If we have some depth, we don’t have to worry about five or six people taking the load at the tournament.”

The Lady Plainsmen will face the host Lady Wolverines today at 4:30 p.m. to begin the tournament. Then, two games on Friday against new 4A member Jackson at 10:30 a.m. and Evanston at 4:30 p.m. They finish the tournament Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Kelly Walsh.

KOWB (AM 1290) will have live broadcast coverage of all the games. David Settle and VerDon Hoopes will be on the broadcast call.