Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

Hudyma, Welch recall 1994 M-ette season


December 4, 2019

Pierre Bibbs

The 1994 M-ette team photo sits in the office at Malta High School along with other championship teams.

The Malta M-ettes won five State B titles in the 90's. Tuesday, December 3, marked 25 years since Malta won the State title in 1994, a trophy that would eventually be lost forever as the school burned down in 1995.

Though the hardware is lost, the memories are not and as we prepare to enter the 2019 season of M-ette basketball, the PCN caught up Linda (Cummings) Hudyma and Beth (Welch) Young, a pair of All-State athletes from the 1994 championship team.

Hudyma and Young were two of five M-ettes named to the 1994 2-B All Conference Team. Other names included Jeri (Grensten) Swanson, Laura (Matthews) Otteson, and Darci (Slade) Ammen, who all made the Honorable Mention.

Back then, the M-ettes were led under legendary head coach Delmar "Del" Fried, who passed away in 2012, and assistant coach Terry Lindgren. They were known for their pressure defense, often times pressuring teams so effectively that starters weren't even needed the entire game.

''We played a different type of basketball," Welch said. "The type of basketball that we played, we pressed the whole game, using the diamond press, our classic press... We were on the go all of the time."

The team's pressure defense forced many turnovers, which led to many fastbreak points without having to run many set offenses, a trend that Malta and many other teams use as a blueprint to this day.

"It was move the ball and play as a team," Hudyma said of Malta's half-court offense.

Welch noted that the key to their runs in 1994 and 1995 was that the team was in great shape.

"During practice, that's all we did was run," Welch said. "The coaches incorporated it into practice in a manner that you didn't even realize that you were conditioning. Which was great, because we conditioned the whole practice. We were in incredible shape to press the entire game. It was an incredibly competitive and talented group of girls."

The team also had a rotation of seven or eight players with plenty of experience.

"It was competitive and you had to work pretty hard to earn your spot back," Welch said. "Coach Fried rotated people out, so that we were always fresh."

Prior to the team's championship run in 1994, the 1993 team finished fourth in the state. The team's loss to Troy, who went on to win the 1993 tourney, proved to be devastating.

"It was devastating to lose, but I think it fueled us up and we were ready to go again," Hudyma said. "We weren't supposed to win it my junior year (1994) because we weren't the top ranked team but it was a little more exciting because of that and because we upset Fairfield."

Hudyma admitted that there were teams better than Malta in 1993, but the 1994 team worked hard competing after the season.

"Almost all of the Malta girls put in work during the off-season," Hudyma said. "We just improved a little bit and we were a little bit better than we were the year before.

The team would go on to set goals for themselves for the 1994 season, hoping to capture it's first title since 1991.

"Back then, every year your goal was to play in the state championship," Hudyma said. "That was just your end goal, maybe some teams didn't but our goal was to win every game and play in the state championship at the end of the season."

The starting lineup for the M-ettes included Young, Slade, Grensten, April Taylor, and Cummings, who was the team's post player, a position that played different in decades past.

"I loved playing underneath and bodying up," Hudyma said of the post position. "I wish that we had more that played with their back to the basket (today). It's hard to find those post players that want to play down on the block, but when you do find them, they are pretty good."

Cummings, who owns the MHSA record for career field goal percentage (60%) went 13-for-16 in the team's 45-33 Championship Game win over the Fairfield Eagles, scoring a total 32 points. She had previously scored 37 in the 67-50 semi-final win over Missoula Loyola.

While Cummings was Malta's top scorer, Welch, who played the wing position, gave Malta reliable scoring as well, scoring 20 points in Malta's 59-55 quarter-final win over Shepherd, a game the M-ettes had to finish with Cummings in foul trouble.

If anything, the M-ettes were prepared to play without their All-State post that night, given Coach Fried's system ultimately set up each starting player and reserve player for success. This ultimately helped lead to more success in future seasons.

Though both Welch and Hudyma both wanted to be on the court more, they knew that Coach Fried's rotational system was helpful.

"He had those morals and ethics," Hudyma said. "He never tried to blow a team out. I bet the starters didn't even average a half-game back then. For playing all four years, I wasn't in the top five for time played. But it was like, would you rather win a lot and play less, or play more and lose."

Hudyma believes that the reserves likely logged more minutes than the starters in that year. Fried coached the M-ettes to six state championships coming in 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, and 2000.

"You look at that time in the 90's and it was dominating season after dominating season," Hudyma said. "That experience meant a lot."

Welch graduated from Malta School in 1995. She went on to play volleyball at the University of Mary, and two years later would go to attend Montana State University Northern in Havre. She has been a Registered Nurse since 2002. She married her high school sweetheart Jerry Welch of Malta in May of 1996. The couple has four children; Ostin, Zach, Hailey, and Kash.

Hudyma went on to lead Malta to another state championship in the 1995 season, and then graduated in 1996. She then went to the University of Montana, where she would play for the Lady Griz throughout college.

Hudyma lives in Glasgow with her husband Rod Hudyma. Her step daughter Mayson Hudyma runs track and cross country at Black Hills State University in South Dakota. Linda and Rod are raising their sons Connor, Cade, and Colt in Glasgow.

Though she had coached high school basketball teams including Plentywood, Colstrip, and Glasgow in past years, she currently coaches the third-sixth grade boys basketball teams in Glasgow.

The 1994 Malta M-ette Championship team consisted of: (Maiden names used) Jennifer LaFond, Jeri Grensten, April Taylor, Beth Young, Darci Slade, Kacie Tollefson, Steph Pankratz, Jolene Calk, Linda Cummings, Jill Taylor, and Laura Matthews.


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