KELLOGG — Lady Wildcats Jaron Figueroa and Hailey Cheney were named to the Intermountain All-League team after wrapping up their basketball season late last month.
The girls came within one game of the state tournament, but ultimately fell to their IML rivals, the Bonners Ferry Badgers, to end their season.
Figueroa and Cheney were two of Kellogg’s brightest spots throughout the season and for good reason too.
Figueroa, a junior guard, is the Wildcats best ball handler and playmaker who seemed to control how fast the pace for Kellogg was at any given time.
Cheney, Kellogg’s freshman phenom, parlayed her height and high basketball IQ with Figueroa’s court vision to create a two-headed monster that made the Wildcats more competitive than they had been in years.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, the dynamic duo is feeling pretty good about the season and even better about next year.
It began with the building of a basic team foundation, and from there it got better and better.
“I think we definitely grew from the beginning of the season,” Figueroa said. “We really connected this year.”
Mixed with the addition of new player, who brought an element that had been missing from the program for awhile.
“Sammy (Seymour) really was important for us this year,” Figueroa said. “Not to be rude or anything, but it was like playing with a boy.”
“Yeah, Sammy made practices competitive,” Cheney said. “We needed the competitiveness in practice to get us ready for games.”
Seymour unfortunately tore her ACL on senior night, which probably directly contributed to the Wildcats missing state, but she instilled a level of competition that her teammates carried with them.
For Figueroa things got tough at the end of the season after an ankle injury sidelined her for the final half of league and opening round of district play, and upon her return saw more of her teammates come down with injuries or illness.
“It was tough to not be able to get out there and help them,” Figueroa said.
While both 'Cats enjoyed the shellacking they put on Bonners Ferry in the opening round of the district tournament, that wasn’t where they wanted their high point to be.
Both girls are looking to next season with one goal in mind, one that will require both Cheney and Figueroa to be at their best.
“The goal is to get to state,” Cheney said. “With how close we got this year and another season of growth as a team we can get there.”
Timberlake will still be the team to beat in the IML, but Figueroa has a plan for that.
“They’re losing some of their best shooters,” Figueroa said. “We are going to become shooters.”