KANSAS GIRLS BASKETBALL: Five teams to watch
The Class 5A two-time defending state champion Pioneers lost three Division I players to graduation, but still return plenty of experience. Point guard Terrion Moore, a first-team All-Sunflower League selection, will pace the squad. She averaged seven points, five assists and four steals per game last season.
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The Stags return several key players from a team that made a dominant, undefeated run to the Class 4A Division I state championship last season. Tristen McFeders and Hunter Bentley both averaged 10 points per game last season. The Stags seek their third straight state title.
The Panthers don’t have to look far for motivation. They were undefeated last season until a 31-point loss to Bishop Miege in the state title game. Morgan Laudan will lead the way, after sharing the spotlight and scoring responsibilities with a pair of seniors last year. She averaged 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Blue Valley Southwest
Rick Rhodes, The Star’s All-Metro girls basketball coach of the year last season, led the Timberwolves on a historic run to the Class 5A state title game in their first postseason appearance. Expectations are high again this year, with the likes of UMKC signee Rilynne Like on the roster. She averaged 15 points per game and shot 45 percent from the field last season.
Blue Valley North
The Mustangs bring in a talented freshman class that has already experienced success during the fall volleyball and tennis seasons. The team’s top veteran will be Micaela Delagarza, who scored 30 or more points in six games last year.
KANSAS GIRLS BASKETBALL: Five players to watch
Madison Piper, Lawrence Free State, junior
The reigning Sunflower League player of the year has averaged double figures in each of her first two seasons. She capitalizes on her size (5 feet, 10 inches) to score in the post. She averaged 17 points and seven rebounds per game last season.
Brenni Rose, Shawnee Mission Northwest, senior
Rose, who has signed with Drake, was instrumental in the Cougars’ fourth-place finish in Class 6A last season, when she averaged 14.5 points and five rebounds per game.
Mya Mertz, Blue Valley Northwest, senior
Mertz, a Drake signee, is a 6-foot-3 standout who set a school record with 78 blocked shots last season. She averaged 3.4 blocked shots and 2.7 deflections per game. Offensively, she recorded six double-doubles last season, when she averaged 10.2 points 8.3 rebounds per game.
DejaNae Roebuck, Olathe South, junior
A Sunflower League first-team selection, Roebuck is the Falcons’ top returner from last year’s Class 6A state qualifying team. She is one of four all-conference first-team players back in the league this season.
Jessica Wayne, Piper, senior
Wayne is a good bet to passing the 1,000-point career mark. She enters her final season with 853 career points. She ended last season with a triple-double in the Class 4A Division I state tournament. She averaged 17 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.