With four returning starters, including three seniors and two All-District players, there is a reason for optimism for the Harrisonville Lady Wildcats moving into the new season.
The All-District players are Bailey Kliewer and Brecken Moreland. Kliewer was also a first-team All-MRVC pick and Moreland was named to the honorable mention All-Conference squad. Joining them will be fellow seniors Mandi Bundt and Ali Knox.
Coach Shawn Gibbs knows what these players bring to the table.
“We return 72 percent of our scoring and 68 percent of our rebounding from last year,” he said.
Last season the Lady Cats posted a 15-14 mark and made it to the semifinals of the district tournament. Gibbs said improving on the mark will come down to how his team plays defensively.
“For us it always starts with defense. We have won 97 percent of our games the last nine years when we hold our opponent to 40 points or less. We only win about one in five games when we allow over 40,” he said.
Offensively he knows his team can score.
“We like our inside outside game. Mandi and Bailey give us a presence inside and we have 100 made three-point shots among our returners,” he said.
Gibbs did not elaborate on who else will see much playing time, simply saying, “We have a number of girls competing for varsity minutes off the bench.”
The schedule should offer some challenges for the team.
“We have added some new opponents to beef it up some. The Webb City tournament over Christmas will give us some really strong competition and an opportunity to see some different teams. We also have added Warrensburg as they joined the conference. We will also play (Sedalia) Smith-Cotton and Grandview.
Gibbs said he doesn’t know how the season will play out.
“It sounds cliché, but honestly our focus is daily improvement and seeing where we are when conference and districts roll around. Each season is a different individual journey, our weaknesses and strengths will be revealed once we start playing games. From there we will focus in practice on correcting those things,” he said.
The Lady Cats opened play Tuesday night at the Summit Christian Academy Tournament. The Lady will return home for the first of three home contests on Tuesday when they play host to Clinton. Nevada follows on Dec. 13 and Grandview comes to town on Dec. 17. The team then closes the December portion of the schedule with the Webb City Tournament on Dec. 27-29.