Hoop dreams. First-year Booneville girls’ basketball coach Jason Wallace (middle) makes a point to Lady Cat basketball players Ashdon Ross (left) and Morgan Osborne (right) during a recent practice. The Lady Cats had their home opener against Mansfield last night and will play Lamar on Saturday in the Johnson County Westside tournament.
New Booneville girls’ basketball coach Jason Wallace has a plan to “bring back the roar” to a program which has struggled of late. The Lady Cats have not had a season with double-digit wins since 2008-09 and Wallace is installing a work ethic into his team to reverse the trend.
Wallace has the coaching savvy to turn things around. In 2007 he led Sacred Heart to a Class A state championship and went on to coach back-to-back unbeaten teams at North Little Rock Junior High.
Wallace used a game against Lavaca last Saturday at the Johnson County Westside tournament to evaluate his talent. “Our effort on defense was very good, but it will take a little time for our offense to come around,” said Wallace. The game, which ended up as a 47-36 Lavaca win, will not count in the standings.
The first game that counts was Monday, when the Lady Cats played Elkins at the JCW tournament. They had their home opener last night against Mansfield and will face Lamar at noon on Saturday in the tournament.
The Lady Cats have four seniors on the team, although two of them have no varsity experience. Wallace will be asking a lot out of the two that do.
Morgan Osborne has the most experience of the bunch, seeing action in almost every game the last two years. She was usually the first girl off the bench and has developed a good jump shot. Osborne is capable of playing any position.
Logan Lyle will run the team at point guard. She became eligible at semester last season and made an immediate impact, averaging just under three assists per game. Lyle also has a good three-point shot and uses her quickness to good advantage when driving to the basket. She led in scoring in the Lavaca scrimmage with 10 points.
The other two players have not seen action since they were freshmen. Guard Selena Guerrero, a manager last season while working out with the team, has improved her shot immensely, specifically from the free-throw line. KhyLeigh Cobb likewise has not played since the ninth grade, but should help out in the post and forward positions.’
Holley Maness is the only junior. A guard, she scored her only points of the 2012-13 season when she hit a three-pointer against Hartford. Her playing time will be on the rise this season.
The Lady Cats will send seven sophomores to the floor this season and many will be expected to contribute immediately. Alley Vaught, a 5-7 forward, led the junior girls in scoring last season and is penciled in as a starter. She has worked tremendously hard on her game. Kaitlynn Davis (5-9) is the likely starter at the post position. She led in rebounding at the junior high level last season and holds the mark for most rebounds in a game at that level with 18. Davis carried that forward to senior high by grabbing eight rebounds against Lavaca.
Paige Joyce, a 5-4 guard, is perhaps best known for hitting two half-court shots in the same game when she was an eighth-grader. There is more to her than that; she has developed a mid-range shot and a three-pointer and is a tenacious defender. Ashdon Ross scored 25 points against Cedarville in a junior high game last season and will use her quickness to advantage on the fast break. Hannah McClung is also very quick and has a deft touch passing, getting three assists in the Lavaca scrimmage.
The most improvement on the team in the off-season almost certainly came from Hannah Scantling, who Wallace said is going to be a very good player. She defends well and has improved her shooting touch. Ryann Campos, at 5-9, will give the team even more depth in the post.
The Jr. Lady Cats are looking forward to a big improvement in wins this season as they return several players with experience and are getting an upgrade in height as well.
The team will play in the Ozark tournament next week, with the host team providing the first-round opposition.
Freshman Daisy Lear has the most experience of the returnees. A guard, she will be asked to lead the team at the point. Mariah Reagan also saw a lot of playing time and can play either forward or guard. Josie Killian will play a forward position and Sabreena Alfaro should be a major contributor as well.
The height comes in at the eighth-grade level. Karlie Campos, at 6-2, became the tallest female basketball player in recent Booneville history when she took the court against Mansfield last night. Haley Carter (5-11) should also make a massive contribution.
But by no means does the eighth-grade talent stop there. Beth Wilkinson, Brooklyn May and Olivia Tomlin all showed mettle at the guard position last season as seventh-graders, while Erika Gray and Faith Preston did well at forward.
The senior boys’ team is not scheduled for a game until November 25. There will be a preview of that squad closer to that time.