A year removed from the first Final Four appearance in the program’s history, Scotland County will look to return to its recent winning ways after struggling to a 13-12 record and a first-round loss in the district playoffs in 2017-2018.
Coach Cory Shultz will return four starters, and with a talented infusion of freshmen, will look to send out its three seniors with some hardware in 2019.
Shultz will have to fill the void left by senior Ashleigh Creek. The team’s lone graduate averaged 8.2 points and a team-high 5.2 rebounds per contest.
Junior Micah Cooley likely will step into Creek’s post role. As a sophomore she averaged 4.0 points and three rebounds per contest as a reserve.
“She is one of my picks to click this year, as I think she has worked hard to get better and has improved her shooting which should help her break out into a bigger role,” said Shultz.
The team returns leading scorer Katie Feeney. The junior guard averaged 8.7 points a game and was among the team leaders in field goal percentage at 52%. She led the team in assists and steals and also grabbed 3.9 rebounds a game, earning third team all conference honors as a sophomore.
“Katie has a motor that never stops,” said Shultz. “She is intense and a competitor and is transitioning into looking for her shot more, which we need her to do.”
Seniors Madie Bondurant, Kaylyn Anders and Khloe Hamlin all return to fill starting roles.
Bondurant averaged 5.9 points a game, making a team high 24 three-pointers. Anders averaged 5.5 points and 4.2 rebounds while also shooting a team-high 98 free throws. Hamlin averaged 3.0 points and 3.4 rebounds while locking down the opposing team’s top scorer on a regular basis as the Lady Tigers’ defensive stopper.
After trotting out big lineups featuring Creek and fellow post player Nova Cline, a season ago (Cline averaged 9.5 points a game in 11 contests in 2017 before a season-ending injury), Shultz expects to speed things up this year.
“Last year we struggled at times to put points on the board,” Shultz said about his squad that averaged just 43.2 points a contest. “We’re going to speed things up and look to create some easy scoring opportunities with our full-court pressure.”
Sophomore Kylee Stott earned varsity time as a freshman and will be a key contributor in 2018-19 either as a starter or off the bench as the Lady Tigers plan to play a lot of full-court pressure defense and a more up-tempo transition game on offense.
“Kyle is long and athletic and really gets after it on defense,” said Shultz. “She is going to be a handful for other teams to have to deal with at the top of our press.”
That’s where the talent incoming group of seven freshmen will aid their new leader.
Shultz said he expects the newcomers to team with sophomores Morgan Blessing, Hailey Kraus and Kilee Bradley-Robinson to provide plenty of depth for the new up-tempo style of play.
The team finished 3-5 a year ago in the Lewis & Clark Conference. Champions Salisbury (8-0) return all conference performers Bryn Wooldridge and Amanda Nejedly. Paris (7-1) will be led by Allison Moore but will have to replace Drew Lockhart. Knox County (6-2) brings back first team all-league performer Sidney Miller, but will need to find a replacement for guard Jessie Anderson. Schuyler County (4-4) is in the same boat, losing Teagen Wilson but bringing back Dystine Priebe.
SCR-I, Marceline and Harrisburg all finished tied for fifth with 3-5 league records. Maycee Eager will return to lead Marceline along with Kenzie Stahl while Harrisburg will lean on Sydney Fischer.
Fayette finished 2-6 and will look to second team performer Abbey Conrow to help the Falcons move up the standings. Westran (0-8) will need to replace 1st team all conference selection Maddy Denslow.