FIVE TEAMS TO WATCH
The Patriots have won three straight conference championships, but two of the players largely responsible for that run — Becca Jonas and Abby Hix — have graduated. Still, the cupboard isn’t bare. Juniors Bri Savidge and Sydney Paialii return as starters from a team that won 26 games last season, Lexi Hart is an athletic post player ready to move into the lineup, and the Patriots are happy to welcome transfer Kierra Collier, a sophomore point guard who has already drawn Division I interest.
▪ Lee’s Summit West
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
The Titans return their two leading scorers after winning 18 games last season under first-year coach Jeff Hardin. A key factor in their success this season will be De’Jionae Calloway’s ability to remain healthy. Calloway, a Texas State signee, could be one of the area’s best players, but she has been hindered by injuries during her high school career.
▪ St. Pius X
A young team suffered through its share of growing pains last season before finishing 13-12. Those growing pains could pay dividends this season in Class 3. The Warriors return the top nine players in their rotation, coach Bob Fenzel says, a group led by all-conference player Abby Hipp.
▪ Lee’s Summit North
The Broncos were the only Kansas City-area team to play for a Missouri state championship last season, but they return just three varsity letter winners. All-state post player Imani Johnson and point guard Erica Nelson have graduated, leaving senior Taylor Creason, sophomore Aaliyah Johnson and junior LaChelle Parks to run the show.
▪ William Chrisman
The offseason was one of contention after the school fired coach Lindsay Thompson, who won three conference championships in seven seasons. Her players protested the move, even wearing T-shirts to school to support their coach. Will time heal those wounds? Under new coach Scott Schaefer, the Bears have started the season 3-0.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
▪ Cloe’ Lane, Blue Springs South, senior
Lane, the two-time all-conference player, returns for her senior season after leading the Jaguars in scoring, rebounding and blocks last season. Lane is an aggressive post player with the ability to mix in an effective jumper. Although she is one of three starters returning, the bench is a young group, leaving more responsibility on Lane’s shoulders early in the season.
▪ Taylor Doan, Kearney, senior
Kearney, an Alabama signee, is primed to become the team’s go-to scoring option after the graduation of sharp-shooting Meagan Paul. As a 6-4 center, Doan’s size certainly makes her a difficult matchup. But while she is a threat in the post game, she is also the trendsetter for the team’s physical, tenacious defense, which led to 24 wins last season.
▪ Morgan Fleming, Liberty, junior
Fleming has the ability to play a variety of positions within the offense — a fact that could bode well in her college recruitment. She averaged 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game last winter. If the Blue Jays are to reach their goal of winning a competitive Suburban Red Conference, Fleming will need to pave the way.
▪ Aliyah Lee, Blue Springs, senior
Lee has the athleticism and quickness to make the highlight-reel plays, but she’s also a deadly shooter from three-point range. The Wildcats will count on Lee to lead them back to the top of the Suburban Gold Conference after finishing below .500 last season.
▪ Kyessence Collins, Raytown, senior
Collins, a returning all-conference player, serves as one of the best distributing point guards in the area. She averaged almost eight assists per game last season, and she has the ability to get to the basket and score, too.
To reach Sam McDowell, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.