2016-17 basketball preview: Aurora Girls

By Derek Shore

A new head coach with high-level collegiate credentials is taking over the Aurora Lady Houn’ Dawgs basketball program.

Renowned Ozarks basketball figure Trish Marsh will assume the head girls basketball position at Aurora for the 2016-17 season.

Marsh, a former all-state player for Marshfield and 1,000 point scorer for Missouri S&T, brings 22-years of coaching experience to the Lady Houn’ Dawgs, including as an assistant to Nyla Milleson for two decades.

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Despite losing seniors Katie Juracek (guard), Megan Pratt (forward), and Hayden Fisher (forward) to graduation, Aurora will return all-state forward Emily Parker, who led the Lady Houn’s to an 11-3 start before missing the rest of the season with a torn ACL. The 6-foot-2 Drury commit averaged 22.6 points while shooting 58 percent.

“Emily has really worked hard with her rehab to get back on track,” Marsh noted of her leading returning scorer. “As a senior, I am expecting her to provide leadership and get buckets. She is a versatile player that can score.”

Coming off a successful softball career, senior Morgan Montgomery (5-foot-6) will contribute on both ends in the backcourt. Marsh looks for her to provide a spark on the defensive end as well as to score on offense.

Juniors Cheyanne Eutsler (5-foot-9), Kaylee Huffman (5-foot-6), and Emily Moore (5-foot-8) are expected to make an impact as upperclassmen. Eutsler stepped up big last year in the absence of Parker, Huffman adds depth at the guard spot, and Moore is another player coming off an ACL injury.

“I am excited to see Cheyanne and Parker play together,” Marsh said. “Cheyanne will be expected to bring physicality inside as well as a big rebounding threat for us.

“Kaylee is another guard I am expecting to step up with her intensity on both ends of the floor. Her athleticism can help our team defensively. I want her to attack the rim on offense.

“Emily is a competitor. I think her toughness and vocal leadership will be key for our team.”

Also returning to varsity action will be senior Courtney Paulsen and sophomore Ashley Vaught. Marsh said Paulsen will add leadership and needed strength in the paint. Meanwhile, Vaught is said to have improved her shot and will be an outside threat for Aurora.

As far as newcomers, the Lady Houn Dawgs could also see the varsity debut of freshman Brooke Bellamy. Marsh called her “a good athlete that can run the floor and rebound.”

Marsh said there are a lot of unknowns right now because she didn’t have a few of the “pieces of the puzzle” due to injuries. Ultimately, she would like to see Aurora play at an up-tempo pace offensively and defensively while mixing it up a lot.

“I am really looking forward to this season with the group of returners we have coming back along with some new faces that will contribute,” she said. “The conference race will be a tough one. There are several teams in the Big 8 that have the potential to come out on top. Obviously, a key conference matchup will be against our rival, Mt. Vernon.”

The Lady Houn Dawgs open the season on the road against Nixa on Nov. 21.