2016-17 basketball preview: Crane Girls

The Crane girls’ basketball dynasty will do down as one of the greatest in Missouri history.

A senior class that included Lexie Vaught, Emma Lander, Shelby Roder, Kylee Moore, Justine Mahan and Keren Belin went 123-7 with four state championships in four seasons.

Those six combined for 77% of the scoring, 53% of the rebounding and 85% of the assists. Replacing that kid of production is next to impossible at any level, much less Class 2.

“You cannot replace what those girls did for the Crane Lady Pirates program,” Crane head coach Jeremy Mullins said. “This will be a rebuilding year for the Crane Lady Pirates program we will strive to compete in every contest we have this year.”

Leading the charge will be the lone returning starter in senior Madison Fulp who stepped into the starting lineup in the wake of an injury to Lander.

“Madison was called upon to fill that hole. She accepted that challenge and was an integral part of our success,” Mullins said. “I look for her to use that experience and knowledge to be the leader on this year’s team.”

Fulp averaged 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as a junior. She was second on the team in rebounding for the season behind Class 2 Player of the Year Lexie Vaught.

Madison Hicks and Olivia Doto both saw time in at least 20 games as freshmen last season, and will be leaned on heavily as sophomores.

“Olivia and Madison made tremendous strides this past summer. I was very pleased with their development on the court. We look for them to be major contributors on this year’s team,” Mullins said.

Maggie Vaught is the team’s lone junior and will be called upon to run the point after seeing action in 20 games last season.

Crane has a strong class of sophomores that also includes Mackinzie Funcannon, Sadie McMenamy, Olivia Edwards, Macy Hayes, and Katie Robinson.

“While having limited varsity experience, they will need to step forward and make a commitment to the Lady Pirates,” Mullins said of the group above. “Some if not all will play a major factor in helping us to have continued successes.”

It is tough to expect another state championship out of the Lady Pirates, but what hasn’t changed are the expectations on the court in terms of effort.

“This season the Crane Lady Pirates will feature a lot of new faces. While the faces are new the expectations from the coaches will not be. The Crane Lady Pirates will be expected to play defense and give their all night in and night out,” Mullins said.

Crane opens the season on Nov. 21 at Berryville (Ark.). The Lady Pirates have a completely new tournament slate with the Ash Grove Tournament (Nov. 28-Dec. 3), the Berryville Holiday Tournament (Dec. 27-29) and the Lady Comet Classic in Marionville (Jan. 16-21).