Here are five things to watch — post holiday break — on the Missouri high school girls basketball side.
1. The William Chrisman girls basketball program endured an off-season of coaching changes that was greeted with student protests.
The subsequent success, therefore, has been all-the-more intriguing to watch. The Bears, 10-1, burst out of the gate with three straight victories, and after a loss to Lee’s Summit West on Dec. 6, they’ve compiled a seven-game winning streak.
Their latest win? A form of payback against Lee’s Summit West.
The Bears have established themselves as a force in the Suburban White Conference — which proved to be one of the toughest leagues in the metro last season.
It could be again this year, too. Staley, North Kansas City and Raytown posted winning records prior to the new year and could also challenge for the conference championship.
2. Smithville saw its string of three straight trips to the Missouri Class 4 state tournament come to a close last season, but the Warriors have quickly shown signs they could be ready to make another run.
Smithville took a 9-2 record into its game Tuesday night, which concluded after press time. To no surprise, Trevor Mosby’s team is getting the job done with defense. It has allowed only 42 points per game this season.
Smithville won the Liberty North Invitational last month, receiving a double-double from Carly Adams in the championship victory against Liberty.
It’s on to conference play now, and the Warriors’ stiffest test of the Midland Empire Conference will come on Feb. 2 when they travel to Chillicothe, which remains unbeaten this season.
3. St. Pius X returned nine players from last season’s rotation, and the dividends of that experience are already paying off. The Warriors are 9-1, with eight of those nine victories coming by at least 15 points.
Sophomore Abby Hipp has picked up where she left off last season, producing double-doubles on a regular basis. She is averaging 14.9 points and 10 rebounds per game.
St. Pius X is ranked 10th in the Missouri Class 3 state poll.
4. Lee’s Summit West may have began the season with eight victories in its first nine games, but now comes the real test.
The Titans subsequently dropped back-to-back contests against William Chrisman and Incarnate Word last week and will look to stop the bleeding when they play host to Ozark on Friday.
The next week should provide an indication for how the Titans stack up with the rest of the state. They will face Republic on Saturday and Columbia Hickman on Tuesday. Both teams are ranked in the Missouri Class 5 coaches poll.
5. Among the four Suburban Conferences, none of them have an established, clear-cut favorite, which could make compelling storylines down the stretch of the season.
Even so, the Suburban Red Conference race could be the best among the bunch.
Five of the six teams are poised to take winning records into conference play. Ruskin has been a pleasant surprise with seven victories in its first 10 games, but outlasting Liberty and Truman won’t be easy, and Park Hill has started 5-2, as well.