By Matt Turer — @MattTurer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
HEAD COACH: Chad Jones
2016-17 RECORD (COC-L): 9-16 (1-7)
2016-17 POSTSEASON: DISTRICTS: Lost 44-31 to Joplin in Round 1
RETURNING PLAYERS: Alexis Black (Jr., 5’5”), Sierrah Negrette (Jr., 5’6”), Mia Duncan (Jr., 5’6”), Jaxsyn Anderson (Jr., 5’9”), Karley Crowe (Jr., 5’5”), Jillian Brunnert (Jr., 5’7”), Sydney Peters (Jr., 5’5”), Riley Kabance (Jr., 5’6”)
NEWCOMERS: Hailey Fullerton (Fr., 6’0”), Karlee Kinder (So., 5’7”)
Carthage heads into 2017-18 with a roster without a senior and one that returns an average of just 11.4 total points per game with the graduation of Kenya Medlock (All-COC Large 2nd Team) and Kensey Sageser.
What that does allow for is room to grow and for continuity as the Tigers not only look for improvement in 2017-18 but also as they look ahead to 2018-19 with what will be the same group for a two-year stretch.
“The youth movement is now transitioning to the core,” head coach Chad Jones said. “The benefits of having a young team is the depth. As a coach, being able to manipulate
lineups early in the season allows me to see what groups work well together against specific
types of opposition, be it offense or defense.
“The downsides to that rotation depth are how it affects the players’ abilities to quickly learn their roles and how it can dilute leadership roles when some players are not on the floor at a very high volume of minutes.”
To combat some of those unknowns and potential challenges that come with rotating minutes, Jones is looking for players to develop consistency and reliability on the court, allowing for his staff to assemble a consistent lineup and to better understand who’s best fit to play which complementary roles.
LOOKING FOR SCORING
Alexis Black (6.6 PPG, 2.3 APG) will likely be who the Tigers lean on to find offensive consistency. Black is entering her third varsity season and spent all last year as Carthage’s starting point guard.
“We will need Alexis to provide discipline and leadership in addition to creating more scoring opportunities for teammates in transition,” Jones said.
Sierrah Negrette (2.2 PPG), Mia Duncan (1.8 PPG), Jaxsyn Anderson (1.4 PPG), Karley Crowe (1.9 PPG), Jillian Brunnert (1.2 PPG) and Sydney Peters (0.6 PPG) are the only other returners with varsity minutes.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us this season as a team,” Jones said. “We will have to figure out how to generate scoring. We made strides at times this offseason in developing more of a scorer’s mentality within the group, but it lacked consistency in summer league games.”
While there’s not a clear offensive standout to pinpoint beyond Black, Jones hinted at a few returners with potential to step into key scoring roles.
Jones on Anderson: “Jaxsyn displayed flashes of elite athleticism and became more
confident in her offensive ability during the off season.”
Jones on Crowe: “She made strides in confidence this offseason which will help her to become more reliable as a ball handler and scorer.”
Jones on Peters: “She has a very high basketball IQ and the ability to provide a spark and get her teammates open looks.”
DEFENSIVE BRIGHT SPOTS
Negrette, Duncan and Brunnert were keyed as top defensive threats.
Jones on Negrette: “Plays with a high motor and is an asset on defense.”
Jones on Duncan: “Can defend taller players and knows how to establish herself in the paint.”
Jones on Brunnert: “Will continue to be one of the best defenders on the roster.”
NEW NAMES TO THREATEN NOW AND IN THE FUTURE
Riley Kabance: The junior was set to make her varsity debut as a sophomore and a likely starter before an injury sidelined her in the fall. She’s now healthy and someone Jones is excited about.
Hailey Fullerton: At six feet, she’s both the tallest and youngest member of the Tigers. Jones said she’s “committed to the process of developing her skills and understands that players are made when no one is watching. During our off season, she proved that she is capable of competing on the varsity level and that Carthage has another special player on the horizon.”
Karlee Kinder: A pretty lengthy sophomore (5’7”) with good shooting range. Jones likes her ability to step up to her level of competition and hopes she develops into a threat.
ADDITIONAL QUOTES FROM CHAD JONES
On the team’s continued adjustment to Class 5 basketball after making the jump in 2016-17: “This offseason we worked hard to push our players past their comfort zone and encouraged them to be more aggressive on the offensive end and in transition. The results were mixed and we struggled with consistency but as a staff we will continue to push some of the more offensively minded players to attack the basket.”
On his expectations for 2017-18: “This season my expectations are for our team to gel and play together, and push one another to give maximum effort.”