At Mesa, Boehme rediscovers happiness of playing hoops
Aubry Boehme has found her smile again.
It took leaving a Division I program and being reunited with her junior college basketball coach and a teammate since grade school, but the 6-foot senior forward can’t stop smiling as she runs up and down the basketball court with her new teammates at Colorado Mesa University.
“Every day I tell the girls, ‘I’m so thankful I have you guys, you have no idea,’ ‘’ Boehme said after a recent practice. “It’s so different. I’m like 100 times happier.”
Boehme was a first-team All-American at Otero Junior College two years ago and signed with the University of Wyoming. Tabbed the Mountain West Conference preseason newcomer of the year, Boehme never felt at home at Wyoming.
She played in 28 games, averaging 6.7 minutes and 1.2 points per game.
Boehme kept in touch with CMU guard Taylor Rock, her teammate since they were in fifth grade in Smithfield, Utah, catching up on how their respective seasons were going.
“I talked to her quite a bit, just to check in and see how she was doing and what-not,” said Rock, who won a state title with Boehme in 2008 at Skyview High School. “I just let her know if you’re not happy, there’s a place for you here, let her know it’s OK, there’s something else out there for you if you’re not happy.”
It wasn’t just basketball that had Boehme bummed in Laramie.
“I just knew I wasn’t happy with life in general. Even the weather up there had an effect on me,” she said. “At Otero, I was out in the sun watching baseball games with friends.”
When Boehme (pronounced BAY-me) decided to leave Wyoming, she called Taylor Wagner, her coach at Otero, who took Colorado Mesa to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight last season.
“You hear through Taylor and some other people that it wasn’t what she thought it was going to be,” Wagner said. “We knew we were going to lose Kelsey (Sigl) and Katrina (Selsor) and wanted to get a couple more post players and get some size.
“Her knowing me and me knowing her and her knowing our offense, it made perfect sense bringing her in. We were happy to have her.”
For Boehme, it’s a second chance, one she’s not taking for granted.
“I’m just glad there was a second opportunity for me and I’m beyond thankful that Coach Wagner took me in when I needed a place to go,” she said.
In her first two games for the No. 7 Mavericks (2-0), Boehme is averaging 11 points and six rebounds and is shooting 90.9 percent from the field.
That’s right — she’s missed one field goal (10 of 11) and leads the nation in field goal percentage.
“Her game is running the floor, and we try to teach our post players to do all the work (early) so when you catch it, it’s turn and drop step and go to the basket,” Wagner said, “rather than you catch it and have to make five moves to get to the rim. If they do that, they’re going to shoot a high-percentage shot.”
The Mavericks play their home opener at 5 p.m. Friday in the Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Classic, facing Montana Western. At 7 p.m. Saturday, Mesa plays Dixie State College. Western State plays Dixie at 3 p.m. Friday and Montana Western at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Wyoming’s system had Boehme playing more on the perimeter than in the paint. Back in Wagner’s offense, she’s posting up in the half-court offense, but is best in transition, getting out on the break, catching the ball and finishing on the run.
Boehme and Rock laughed at the notion of the former Rattlers, who qualified for the 2012 NJCAA national tournament, putting the band back together in Grand Junction.
Junior guard Saane Lo’amanu played at Otero with Boehme and Rock two years ago, then went to Friends (Kan.) University and transferred to CMU this year. Lo’amanu’s younger sister, Siu, a sophomore forward, played at Otero last year.
Rock said that familiarity has helped the Mavericks pick up where they left off last season.
“There hasn’t been as much down time,” she said. “We’re able to get more in because everybody knows what’s expected of us, the work ethic.”
Boehme knew what she was in for with Wagner’s demanding style of play.
“I stand up a little straighter and I’m more alert,” she said of when he barks at practice. “I’ve seen the best and the worst in him, but he’s a great coach. I love him to death.”
Wagner likes seeing Boehme smiling again.
“That’s important,” he said. “A girl’s got to feel confident and when they do that, they’ll play well for us.”
Boehme shrugs off the tag of being a D-I player, and will gladly trade her own stats for team success.
“It’s the personnel and the people you’re with that make it what it is. Do your job for your teammates,” she said.
“I almost want to say (Division I) was too luxurious for me, too much of everything. I want to go work for my food, for what I get. I want to work for it. That’s the way I was raised.”