Wednesday, November 16, 2022
GRC East Girls Basketball 2022-23 Season Preview
by Jeremy Benson, GrandRiverConference.com
Princeton Tigers are the coaches’ pick to win the GRC East in Girls Basketball in 2022-23. Polo and South Harrison received 3 first place votes each and finished 2nd and 3rd in the poll. Defending Champion Milan is picked #4.
Princeton Tigers lost 1st-team all-conference Lauren Krohn from a team that 17-9 and 5-2 in conference last season. But they return six of their top seven players. The Tigers, who finished 2nd in the South Harrison Tournament and 3rd at Gilman City, welcome back Sophomore Addy Henke. Henke also earned 1st-team all-conference and is the leading returning scorer in the conference at 19.9 ppg. 2nd-team all-conference Grace Kelly (7.6 ppg) will be the main inside presence and Makenzie Dunkin (3.2 ppg) will help at the guard spot. Other key players returning include Klaire Buckler (3.5 ppg), Randa Shahan (2.9 ppg) and Gracie Allnutt (1.9 ppg).
Coach Steve Richman said “I feel like we will have a 7 to 8 man rotation. We will still be relatively young with just one senior starter (Dunkin). Lauren Krohn is the only starter we will lose from last year. She will be a tough person to replace, but I think our young kids are after the challenge.”
Polo Lady Panthers won the district championship last year for the first time since 1994. They finished 23-7 and 4-3 in conference. They were also champions of the Gallatin and Osborn tournaments. Both of those tournaments were their second consecutive title. The Panthers fell to Bishop LeBlond in the State Sectionals and finished #10 in the final state rankings.
Polo will have to replace two starters from last year’s team. Haley Aubrey was an all-conference and all-district point guard that averaged 7.3 ppg. Mary Copeland was all-conference, all-district, and all-state. She was the leading scorer at 14.9 ppg playing forward/center. Both Aubrey and Copeland were four-year starters for the Panthers. But Polo also loses key players off the bench in Alayna Chapman, Kayla Larkins, Kendal McKracken, and Jenee Qualman. All of them provided quality minutes. In total, Polo will need to replace 60% of their scoring from last season.
Returning starters that will be expected to take up the scoring slack will be Chloe Gilbert, Hanna Vaught and Lily Gentry. Gilbert was all-conference and all-district and averaged 6.5 ppg. Gentry averaged 5.9 ppg. Both are seniors joined by Junior Vaught, who is the leading returning scorer at 8.4 ppg. Vaught was honorable mention all-conference and all-district.
Other returning players expected to contribute are Juniors Layna Norton, Shianne Barrickman, and Oliva Wolf along with Sophomores Emersyn Parker and Lacy Maier. Jade Misel is one of the newcomers this year. She is a senior that you may know from baseball and track but has not played basketball since her freshman year. Other newcomers are Freshman Libby Norton, Kendyl Fitzwater, Dani McKee, Emma Chapman, and Jorja Ebert.
New coach Wally Aubrey said “We did lose 6 seniors from last year’s district championship team, and they will be missed, but I have tremendous confidence in this year’s team. They are tough, coachable and they respect everyone. They don’t let much of anything bother them, and we are excited! It should be a fun year for all the fans of the Polo Lady Panthers.”
South Harrison Bulldogs finished 16-12 and 4-3 in conference last season. They captured consolation in the Albany Tournament and 3rd Place in their own tournament. Winning 16 games last season was a vast improvement considering the Bulldogs had a total of 13 wins over the previous four seasons. They look to build upon that success this season. They will have to replace Emily Miller, who was a great rebounder and passer on the offensive side and helped protect the paint on the defensive side. However, everyone else is returning on a team that is loaded with talent.
Leading the way is Hannah Carter. She averaged 16.8 ppg as a Sophomore earning 1st-team all-conference honors. Carter’s 6.4 2-pt field goals per game was 2nd in the conference last season behind only Cady Pauley. Also returning with Carter are Abigail Molloy (6.6 ppg), Megan Norris (4.6 ppg) and Kylee Cannon (2.2 ppg).
Juniors Hallee & Emma Chamberlin and Megan & Morgan Bottcher are expected to also play an expanded role this season. Also look for Freshmen Kataya Sunderman and Lexi Hunter to contribute.
Coach Kale Watson said, “Expectations for this season are high for us as we bring back a lot of key players, and we start to add more players to the rotation. I think early on we will see some bumps in the road as we work through in-game situations and defining roles. We should be a much deeper team from a year ago as we add some new pieces to our team.”
Milan Ladycats were in familiar territory last year. After having won their 3rd consecutive GRC East title, they were once again playing in the GRC Championship. Unfortunately for them, the first two attempts resulted in losses to GRC West opponents, Worth County and Stanberry. To make matters worse, their opponent in the 2022 Championship Game was a team that had just beaten them by 32 eight days before. It looked like Milan might be headed for the same fate again. Christian was up 6 when Cady Pauley launched a shot from the Christian free throw line at the halftime buzzer. The home crowd at Milan roared as the shot fell to cut the lead in half. Milan was able to use that momentum to propel itself to a 70-63 win and their first GRC Championship.
The Ladycats would finish the season 22-7 including a District Championship before falling to East Buchanan. They finished the season receiving votes in the Class 3 state poll. In addition, they won their home tournament for the second consecutive season. Senior Cady Pauley finished her career with over 3,000 points and is now a Freshman at the University of Virginia. Replacing one of the top players in the state will be no easy task for Milan, but they do have a strong supporting class returning with a deep team returning.
Milan returns three starters from last year’s team: Seniors Auburn Cole and Gracie Dickson and Junior Avery Pickering. While it is unlikely that any of them will make up for the scoring lost by the graduation of Cady Pauley, Milan will be looking for them for additional production this season.
Auburn is a returning all-conference and all-district post player that Milan will be counting on from the inside. Gracie along with fellow seniors Emily Menchaca and Hallie Weaver are expected to really turn a corner this year on the offensive side. They have also better defensively, and Coach Hurley expect them to give opposing players fits.
Avery played a lot last year. She is a long and athletic forward and a great energy player. She is expected to step up on the offensive side this year. Junior Addison Miller is an athletic guard that can really play defense and she gives opposing players fits most of the time. She will step up on the offensive side this year as well. Junior Danika Shepherd is a post player that really started dominating in the JV ranks last year. She is strong and a really good rebounder.
Sophomores are Emerson Pauley, Amy Pickering, Violet Gray, and Tania Vasquez help add to the depth. Emerson and Amy played a lot of varsity as freshman. They are both long and athletic guards. Emerson is a really good shooter that should really take the next step for Milan. Amy is quick and fast and plays defense very well and has improved offensively. They should really give the Wildcats valuable minutes offensively and defensively this year. Violet is an undersized post but knows how to score over bigger players and is an outstanding rebounder. Tania is an athletic guard that is one of their most improved players and could see some minutes.
A newcomer that is expected to be a big contributor is Freshman Marian Dabney, who is the daughter of the boy’s coach. She is 6'1" and very athletic. She will play in and out because she has a great shot from outside. I think she could be a real match up problem for most teams and will take pressure off the other post players.
Coach Hurley said “Our expectations are always the same. We want to play for championships. Any tournament you play in the goal is to try and win, doesn't always happen but that is one of our goals. We know that people think that we will be down this year, but we believe we will be in the conversation for the conference championship and district championship.”
Trenton Bulldogs were picked to finish #7 in the GRC East last season. But Mirena King hit a 3-pointer to put Trenton up 31-30 over Milan with 38.3 seconds left. A win for Trenton would put them in the GRC Championship against St. Joseph Christian. Cady Pauley would hit a shot to go up 1 with 26.6 left, but Trenton had one last shot to win it. The Bulldogs held the ball for the last shot. Morgan King’s made one last attempt from 3 to win it, but it was no good at the buzzer.
While Trenton, fell short of reaching the GRC title game, they had many great moments during the 2021-22 campaign. They finished 17-11 and 5-2 in conference. They finished 2nd in the Gallatin Tournament and consolation in Lawson and Hamilton tournaments. They also placed 2nd in Districts and won their crossover game with North Andrew.
They will be missing six players from last season. There was a lot of experience, leadership, and impactful minutes that they will have to find a way to replace. Point Guard Chandler Lynch, who was 2nd team all-conference and Morgan King, who set a school record for 3-pointers last season, will be the toughest to replace. Teya Cooksey and Gracyn Rongey will also be missed on both ends of the floor for their poise and experience as well as being unselfish kids who did whatever they could to help our team win. Mallory Sole and Rebecca Urich will be difficult to replace the impact they had as leaders and teammates. Coach Kameron Cool said, “We're going to miss that group of kids, but I am excited for them as they continue in their lives and will go do great things.”
Two starters return for the Bulldogs, Mirena King and Madi Moore. Mirena was 1st-team all-conference and averaged 12.7 ppg. They are going to have to take on larger roles on both ends of the floor. They will also have to step into leadership roles on and off the floor. Additionally, returning player Astrid Soriano, who played limited minutes last year, is expected to contribute at the point guard position.
Coach Cool said “We have several players who were on the varsity last season in a limited capacity who will be expected to jump into significant playing time. We will have to do our best to shorten the learning curve and find a way to compete quickly.”
The hallmark of the Trenton team has been their defense. They held their components to 35.9 points a game, including 4 opponents under 20 points. Coach Cool added “Our biggest expectation is to remain competitive night in and night out and that starts for us on the defensive end. We lost a lot of great defenders who worked incredibly hard to be successful in that regard, so we expect girls to step up and continue battling on that end of the floor. For this group, we definitely want to see a lot of growth throughout the season and hopefully by the time we get to the end we are a team no one wants to be matched up against. I'm really excited to get to work with this group. We have a lot to figure out together after losing so many players from last season, but that is all a part of the process. They're great kids and we know they'll work hard this year.”
Putnam County Lady Midgets lost 1000-point scorer and leading rebounder Claire Tipton before Christmas Break last season. Although, she did suit up for one more game on Senior Night, Tipton was not able to play the remainder of her senior season. With only having one other senior in Grace Schnelle, the Lady Midgets had to rely on a young team. They finished 10-13 and 1-6 in conference including consolation in the Tri-Rivers Classic. While they struggled at times last season, they gained valuable experience. Key players returning this season will be Allise Perkins (7.0 ppg), who earned honorable mention all-conference honors, Karley Seaton (6.3 ppg), Adeline Dickerson (5.0 ppg) and Jesslyn Knowles (4.7 ppg). In addition, Emma Whitlock joins the team from Milan where she averaged 1.9 ppg as a sophomore.
Coach Keith Smith said “We are returning four of our five starters from the end of last season. Our expectation is to be more competitive, stay healthy, and be playing our best basketball at the end of the season.”
Gallatin Lady Bulldogs had 7 players that were freshman or sophomore on last season’s team representing 85% of their scoring. To say that they were rebuilding is an understatement. They started the season with 16 straight losses, but they were a vastly improved team at the end of the season. They were able to win 4 out of 6 games late in the season including a win in the crossover game over Albany 46-30. Despite falling to Polo in their first district game, they played them very tough in a 52-36 loss.
The Lady Bulldogs ended the season 4-20 and 0-7 in conference, but they are looking for big improvements this season. They return 100% of their scoring from last year’s team including Junior Annabelle Ball, who was 2nd team all-conference and led the team with 12.1 ppg. Junior Ashley Feiden was 2nd in scoring at 8.4 ppg. Other returning starters are Senior Elle Copple (4.3 ppg), Sophomore Kallie Salmon (4.3 ppg) and Junior Alex Endicott (2.1 ppg). Senior Presley Wells will be joining the team this year and is expected to play point guard.
First-year coach Trisha Adkison said “Gallatin Lady Bulldogs have been working hard during the summer to build our program. We are growing and gaining confidence one step at a time. A goal that we set as a team is to end our season in the Top 5 of the GRC. As far as standouts, I’d like to see our newcomers and returning players continue to compete for roles that will benefit the team as a whole.”
Maysville Lady Wolverines had a tough start to last season. After winning their first two games, they dropped 8 of their next 9. However, they finished the season winning 9 of their last 14 games including consolation trophies in both the South Harrison and King City tournaments. They also defeated North Harrison in the crossover game 26-13. The Lady Wolverines finished the season 12-13 and 2-5 in utn
This year, Maysville will be looking to replace five seniors, including Ashley Brown, who led the team with 11.2 ppg and earned 2nd-team all-conference honors, and Ashton Willis, 7.8 ppg and honorable mention all-conference. They also lose their next three leading scorers in Claire Catlett (7.0 ppg), Braelyn Windham (5.5 ppg) and Rylie Boyer (5.0 ppg). Those players represented 86% of Maysville points, which is the most among all GRC girls teams. Coach Rodney Flinn will look to Elana Clark and Hayley Sweiger to lead the team. They will be supported by Lily Boyer, Sophia Redman and Bailey Vanisko.
Coach Flinn said that “We will be an inexperienced team for the most part, but we expect ourselves to play hard and be competitive.” He also added that “We are excited to announce the addition of Coach Maddie Book to our Lady Wolverine Basketball Staff. Coach Book recently graduated from Northwest. She played varsity basketball at Lafayette, St. Joseph and college basketball at North Central Missouri College.”
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
GRC West Boys Basketball 2022-23 Season Preview
by Jeremy Benson, GrandRiverConference.com
North Andrew Cardinals are the coaches’ pick to win the GRC West in Boys Basketball in 2022-23. Worth County received one first place vote and finished 2nd in the poll. Defending Champion Stanberry is picked #4. St. Joseph Christian also received a 1st place vote.
Since North Andrew joined the Grand River Conference in 2016-17, they had either won or tied for a share of the GRC West every season until last year. For most teams, finishing 18-10 and 5-2 in conference would be considered a great year. By North Andrew standards, it was a bit of a down year. They were just coming off a Final Four finish in Class 2. But they had to replace all-conference players in Tanner McDaniel, Brewer Wheeler and Clayton Linville. It was an up-and-down year for the Cardinals. Some highlights were winning the GRC Showcase game against a very good Gallatin team and winning the consolation at both Stanberry and North Platte Tournaments, which are tournaments with very strong fields. But they also struggled at times, with losses by 38 points to Grand View Christian, 37 points to Bishop LeBlond and 44 points to Plattsburg.
The Cardinals return a large number of players this season but do lose top scorer Owen Graham (16.5 ppg) and Couper Simmons, who averaged 7.4 ppg. Cade Thomas also departed via graduation. But North Andrew does return 55% of its scoring. Hayden Ecker is the leading returning scorer with 13.4 ppg. He also averaged 2.7 3-pointers per game which led the GRC West. Braxon Linville (10.8 ppg) led all GRC West freshman in scoring last season. Collin Patterson and Trey McDaniel are guards that saw significant playing time that also return.
North Andrew did have a lot of injuries last season, but they have three players that missed significant time last season. Gunner Lawrence was out through the first two months of the season. Aiden Miller was injured in December and missed the remainder of the season. Jacob Chittum missed the entire season. All three are expected to be big contributors.
Worth County had a rough start to the season last year but xended with a 11-game winning streak before running into Mound City and Tony Osburn in the district championship. They finished 16-7 and 4-3 in conference. But now the Tigers will have to replace 79% of the scoring. All-conference players Ayden Gladstone (18.7 ppg) and Jackson Runde (13.7 ppg), along with Grant Cameron (9.3 ppg) and Jackson Smith (4.8 ppg) will be the top players that Worth County will have to replace. They will start with Junior Tyler New who scored 11.3 ppg last season and Levi Cassavaugh who were starters last season. They will be joined by Tanner Ridge, Braxton Hightshoe and John Galanakis. Coach Les New said that there is “No telling where we will be in the GRC”. They are an “inexperienced team”.
Albany Warriors went finished last season 12-14 and 4-3 in conference. They captured 3rd place in their own tournament. While the Warriors will have to replace a talented senior lineup in Quincy Stamper, Jordan Poppa, Cade Newman and Garett Owens, they do have the leading returning scorer in the GRC West in Kemper Cline at 20 ppg. Cline was the only non-senior to be on the 1st team all-conference for the GRC West last season. He will be joined by fellow seniors Sam Stamper and Troy Popplewell. Coach Jeffrey Epplerly said that those three “will help lead the growth and development of an inexperienced team.”
Stanberry Bulldogs had just won their second consecutive district championship and were preparing to face Mound City in the Class 1 State Sectionals. The previous season, the Mound City Panthers had ended Stanberry’s season in the same round by the score of 70-55. To make matters worse, Tony Osburn had just dropped 62 points on Worth County in their previous game. The Bulldogs had a tall task in front of them if they were going to extend their season.
Stanberry was able to hold Osburn to only 2 points in the first half and 15 for the game and knocked off the Panthers 49-47. They then won a tight game against Green City 50-47 to advance to state. After an overtime win against Wellsville-Middletown, the Bulldogs ran into a tough South Iron team falling 71-45. Stanberry would finish 2nd in State and ranked #2 in the final Class 1 Poll.
The Bulldogs finished the season 25-4 and 7-0 in conference. They defeated Putnam County in the conference championship game to win their first conference championship since 2016 and 13th overall. In addition to winning districts, Stanberry also won the Albany and King City tournaments and were co-champions of their own tournament.
1st team all-conference Seniors Tyler and Austin Schwebach both reached 1000 career points during Stanberry’s playoff run. They have departed along with All-Conference honorable mention Landon Marticke and starter Korbin Fletchall. Junior Colby McQuinn is the lone starter returning. He earned 2nd team all-conference honors last season and averaged 10.4 ppg. Colby McQueen and Adam Jensen will be expected to see significantly more playing time this season.
Coach Nick Groomer said, “I think we will be a lot more competitive than other coaches are going to think. Our expectations would be to finish in the top half of the conference and hope to be competitive in our district.”
St. Joseph Christian
St. Joseph Christian Lions had their winningest season in four years going 19-10 and 5-2 in conference. They were able to win the Gilman City tournament and finish second in the Platte Valley Invitational. But this season will be a rebuilding one for the Lions. They lose 1st-team all-conference Carson Bowman (16.6 ppg) and 2nd-team all-conference Camden Lutz (19.3 ppg) along with Brad Boyd and Caleb Carlson. In all, St. Joseph Christian loses 87% of their scoring from last season.
All their returning players from last season were freshman. As they enter their sophomore season, they will take on the leadership roles for the team. Leading the way will be Nick Orscheln, Johnston Stewart and Hayden Riley. Joining them in the starting lineup will be Sophomore Cy Carlson and Junior Vail Fruechting. Cy had limited time on varsity last year. Vail joined the team late last year, playing mostly JV.
Coach Neal Hook said that his expectations are that the Lions will “play hard and gain experience” this season.
Pattonsburg Panthers record of 12-14 (1-6 in conference) was a bit misleading last season. They had a tough schedule which included several close losses to good teams. Despite losing the conference leading scorer at 21.3 ppg in Zane Reed, who also was 1st team all-conference, the Panthers return 4 starters and top player off the bench. Leading the way is honorable mention all-conference Sam Coin (8.3 ppg), Gage Iddings (10.2 ppg) and Daltyn Sperry (9.0 ppg). They are joined by Maesen Weller and Landon Woodward.
The bench is relatively young and will be looking at Freshman and Sophomore to find minutes. Those that are expecting to contribute are Drayson McCrary, Duke Hoover and Gavin Humphrey. New coach Bill Pottorff said, “Our expectations are that we play hard each and every game with lots of intensity on both sides of the ball.”
King City went 6-15 finishing 1-6 in conference last season which also included their first district win since 2018 when they defeated Albany. It was the second straight season that they had improved their win total over the previous season. Despite losing their three leading scorers in Landon Wells, Parker Muff and Corbin Taylor, the Wildkats have 7 returning seniors, with 6 of them being in the program all 4 years. The seniors, Ty Mooney, Chase Moss, Samuel Derks, Hunter Moss, Hunter Hass, Landon Jackson and Mason Kauffman will are joined by Blakely Eaton, who is the leading returning scorer, plus newcomers Ryder Sample, Graham Medsker, Darwin Bowden and Josiah Shellhorn.
New coach Lane Schuman said that “These seniors have managed to improve upon their previous record for 2 consecutive seasons and look to continue that trend for a third straight year. This year’s squad will need to pick up their scoring load after losing their top 3 scorers from last season. These boys are determined and committed to lay the foundation for a more consistently winning basketball program here in King City.”
North Harrison Shamrocks went 8-19 last season with a 1-6 record in conference. Their highlight of the season was a consolation victory in the Gilman City tournament defeating Gilman City. Leading scorers Wade Briggs and Nick Babinski and starter Brandon Hamilton have departed along Cooper Cracraft and Matthew Heintz. The Shamrocks will be young this season. The lone senior will be Tyson Gibson, who is their leading returning scorer at 6.4 ppg. Junior Keygun Johnson (6.1 ppg) also saw significant minutes from last season. However, everyone else is either new or someone who had limited playing time last season.
North Harrison will have 5 freshman and 4 sophomores out of their 12 players this season. New coach Justin Joiner said, “We are a very young team with only one Senior. I felt like we made strides in the right direction over the summer. I am expecting to have 12 kids on the team this year. Based on the work they put in this summer, we are going to get after it defensively and hopefully be playing our best basketball towards the end of the season.”
Monday, November 14, 2022
GRC West Girls Basketball 2022-23 Season Preview
by Jeremy Benson, GrandRiverConference.com
St. Joseph Christian
St. Joseph Christian did not start the season with high expectations, at least from the media, who picked them to finish 8th. For many, the Lions playing in the GRC Championship might have been a surprise, but not to coach Erin Patrick. Before the season started, he told me that newcomers Chloe Burnham and Lexi McDaniel would be worth at least 20 more points a game. He felt that the defense was a strength the season before, but that they didn’t have consistent scoring. With Burnham and McDaniel in the lineup, the Lions went from 35 points a game to 54 a season later.
The Lions finished 21-7 and won the District Championship, their first since 2012. They lost to eventual champion Platte Valley in the sectionals but were able to compete with them before a run in the third allowed Platte Valley to pull away. In addition to the District Championship, Christian won the Platte Valley and Gilman City Tournaments and defeated eventual GRC Champion Milan by 32 in the first matchup between the two teams before falling in the rematch in the GRC Championship the following week. The Lions finished the season ranked #7 in Class 1.
Christian will not be surprising anyone this season. Burham (18.6 ppg) and McDaniel (13.6 ppg) earned 1st team all-conference and will now be entering with a full season of varsity experience. Ella Bowman (7.1 ppg) earned 2nd team all-conference and was Christian’s top defender with 3.4 blocks per game. Other key returning players include Juniors Maya Freudenthal, Jaci Jorgensen and Danika Wattenbarger. The Lions add Sophomore Maddi Blevins and Junior Taylor Parmer to a talented team. They are favorites to repeat as GRC West Champions and have a chance to bring home the GRC Title at the GRC Showcase in King City.
Coach Patrick said “Our expectations will be high to repeat as district champions and advance farther into the playoffs. We won 2 out of 3 in-season tournaments last year and would like to go 3 out of 3 this year. We would like to again earn first place in the GRC West and win the GRC championship after getting second (to Milan) last year.
I believe our fans will enjoy watching us play the style of basketball in which we compete as a team this year. Our fans should enjoy watching to see if we can improve over last season not only offensively but also defensively. We will host the PVI tournament with the 1st and 3rd Place games returning to Northwest Missouri State University this December. Our fans will be excited to watch us play right before Christmas at St. Joseph Civic Arena (against Stewartsville/Osborn) that is sponsored by the St. Joseph Sports Commission. Then play the next week in the Twelve Courts of Christmas at Hy-Vee Arena against Higbee. We will again go to the Fairfax and Gilman City basketball tournaments in January.”
North Andrew Cardinals finished 16-10 and 5-2 in the GRC West last season. The Cardinals were able to capture 3rd place in the Bishop LeBlond Tournament defeating Savannah and Consolation in the North Platte Tournament with a win over West Platte. In addition, they knocked off Stanberry in conference play after falling to them the week before in the Stanberry Tournament. The win set them up for a shot at the division title against St. Joseph Christian in their final game. Although, they were not able to win that game, the Cardinals showed that they were one of the top teams in the GRC last season.
This year, they return 83% of their scoring and look to challenge for the conference title once again. Junior Brylie Brinks was the leading scorer at 8.9 points a game. Their top four scorers return with Madison Lillard (8.3 ppg), Riley Walker (8.3 ppg) and Cassidy Brittian (5.8 ppg). Other returnees include Reagen Walker, Piper Cook, Ellie Lawrence, Autumn Rasnic and Gracie Wilmes. Newcomers for the Cardinals include Briley Rainez and Teigan Miller
Cook and Brinks were among the league leaders in the conference in free throw shooting. Among returning players, Cook is 2nd in the West at 72.7% and Brinks is 3rd at 72.0%. Lillard had a great freshman campaign from long distance finishing 2nd in the conference behind Cady Pauley of Milan with 2.5 3-pointers made per game. Brinks was first-team all-conference, Riley Walker was second-team and Lillard received honorable mention.
Terry Hopkins will be taking over as head coach for the Cardinals this season.
King City Wildkats finished 12-13 including 3-4 in conference last season. It included consolation in the Stanberry Tournament and 3rd Place in their own tournament. The Wildkats do lose Chloe Eiberger and Paisley Catlett from last year’s team, but they return 80% of their scoring including their top two scorers in Zoe Tunks (11.8 ppg) and Taryn Hunter (8.9 ppg). Tunks was 2nd team all-conference and Hunter earned honorable mention all-conference.
Other key players returning for King City are Tacee Catlett, Kaylee Roberts, Clare Staley and Kamdyn Carlson. Coach Ryan Anderson said “I expect to be competitive; we have a good mix of guards and posts that will form a strong nucleus, including two all-conference players. We return a group of experienced players that put in a lot of work in the off season, I'm excited to see it payoff in the regular season.”
Pattonsburg Panthers finished 18-9 and tied with St. Joseph Christian for first in the GRC west at 6-1 including a key victory over Stanberry avenging an earlier loss in the Albany Tournament. The Panthers will enter the season without four seniors lost to graduation. But they do return a very athletic and talented roster. Jenna Heath, a four year starter and 2nd team all-conference last season, will be one of the keys for the Panther success. Supporting Heath will three year letter winner Bessa Hoover, Junior Guard Kelsey Crabtree and a pair of very talented Sophomores, Kate Jones and Kinsley Johnson. Coach Lee Warford said, “I think that once everyone establishes their role and our two sophomores figure out the impact that they can have we could have a solid basketball team come January and February.”
Worth County Tigers return their entire starting lineup from last season including Ali Brown (7.0 ppg) who earned honorable mention All-Conference. Other than Justina Wimer, who played a few minutes off the bench, the Tigers return the entire team from last season. For Worth County, it was not a season that fans have grown accustomed to. They were only able to win 2 games going 2-22 overall and 1-6 in conference. But having the core of the team back this year will be key in rebuilding, especially Brown, who continues to be a force in the post, but has also improved her outside game. Kynah Steele (5.3 ppg) was out half of the year last year due to an injury, but also was a key player in the post and is expected to be a key contributor. Taylor Sanders (2.4 ppg) is looking to provide some outside scoring, but can also handle the ball when needed.
Newcomer Rylee Ruckman is an incoming freshman this year. She was the main ball handler in junior high and will be expected to contribute immediately as a freshman.
Coach Tiffany Bliley said, “My expectation for the upcoming season is to continue building and improving our program. I think that we will be more competitive than last year as we are returning everyone and gaining a new ball handler. The girls have put in a lot of time and hard work over the summer to continue getting better. As long as we stay healthy and without injury, I think that we will be able to contend this year.”
Stanberry Bulldogs had high expectations last season. They were coming off conference and district championships. They were picked to win the GRC West and were favorites to capture another district title. They were returning all-conference players Lexi Craig, Sadie Runde and Tarynn Mattson. The Bulldogs had a very good season finishing 17-7 and 5-2 in conference, but unfortunately, they fell short of their ultimate goals. They did win the King City Tournament and were co-champions of their own tournament. The King City title was their 5th consecutive. They finished 2nd in the Albany Tournament and Districts. In the final rankings, they received votes in the Class 1 state poll.
Now, Stanberry is looking to rebuild. Craig, Runde and Mattson have all graduated along with Astasia Brown. The Bulldogs do return Amelia Wallce, who averaged 10.4 ppg last season, for her junior campaign. Other key returning players are Katie Angle and Kiley Mattson along with newcomer Lindsey Hailey. But if Stanberry is going to win games this season, they will have to have some players step up to replace 68% of the scoring lost with the departure of their seniors.
Coach Taylor Wendt said that “This season we are focusing on making the adjustments needed to make this team successful. We will have a different set up than years past and it’s something we will all have to learn to adjust to. It will be a learning year for some, but we look to still be competitive and have fun while doing it!”
Last year was a season of attrition for the Albany Warriors. In games that they were able to actually play, they were 0-17 and 0-5 in conference play. They had to forfeit a couple others due to lack of players. They were finally able to have 5 players to play their final two games but did not have the talent or the depth to keep up with other teams.
This season, Albany returns their entire team. However, they are still young. Cory Worrell is their only senior. Abby Troncin (7.3 ppg) and Addisyn Crawford (7.0 ppg) were the leading scorers for the Warriors last season as sophomores. They look to improve upon that during their junior season. Albany also adds five freshman to the team which will allow them to have more depth.
Coach Jeffrey Epperley said, “We expect to use the individual skills we developed last year to practice and play as a team. By adding in five freshmen, we were able to get a lot accomplished over the summer and will continue to get better as the season progresses.”
North Harrison Lady Shamrocks struggled in their initial season in the GRC going 7-20 and 1-5 in conference play. They were able to capture consolation in the Gilman City Tournament when they defeated a Gilman City team that they had lost to earlier in the season. The Lady Shamrocks graduated three players including leading scorer and honorable mention all-conference Camden Castleberry (10.3 ppg). Other players that graduated were Erin Virtue and Karley Koch.
Jayliegh Robins, who also earned honorable mention all-conference is the leading returning scorer at 8.3 ppg. She will be joined by Halle Morgan, Jaci Davis, Trendi Johnson, Kira Robertson and Carmon Fordyce. Coach Aaron Long said “We will have a fair amount of on court experience. Hopefully that can result in controlled and composed possessions on both ends of the floor.”