With the high school basketball season upon us, The Kansas City Star’s girls preview zeroes in on five teams to watch this season.
BLUE SPRINGS SOUTH
The Jaguars like to play pressure defense, and they are equipped with the athletes to swarm opponents. On the other end of the floor, senior point guard Tiffany Davenport can stretch the defense with her outside shooting. Senior forward Naia Tauai was one rebound shy of a double-double average last season.
The Eagles have won back-to-back Missouri Class 4 district championships, and they possess one of the best one-two scoring punches in the class. Seniors Claire Rose and Kendyll Bailey combined for 34.7 points per game a year ago. Rose will play for Rockhurst University. Bailey has signed to play softball at Missouri.
After reaching back-to-back Missouri Class 5 Final Fours, the Blue Jays will boast a significantly younger roster — with a freshman and sophomore in the starting lineup. But Liberty remains a talented team and will use its athleticism to win games. Kayel Newland is the returning leading scorer after breaking a school record for three-pointers last season.
ST. PIUS X
The Warriors return the major pieces from a team that finished third in Missouri Class 3 last season. In fact, the four leading scorers from that third-place game — Abby Hipp, Natalie Denzer, Amanda Hayes and Antoinette Mussorici — are back. Hipp, a forward, averaged a double-double last winter and has signed with Missouri State.
A group of six returning letter winners is highlighted by all-conference guard Adreon Bell and all-conference wing Bri Burns. The scoring duo combined for 26.5 points per game last year. The Bears are aiming for a third straight 20-win season.