By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
You can make a case that Rogersville had the best resume of any Class 4 team in the Ozarks last year.
Of their seven losses, three came against undefeated Class 3 state champion Strafford, one came to nationally-ranked Argyle (Texas), one came to Class 5 district championship Lebanon and two came against state-ranked West Plains.
That includes a 46-40 district championship loss to the Lady Zizzers that has fueled Rogersville offseason preparation.
“Losing the district hurt as all losses do, but knowing your season is over and to be that close is always hard to swallow,” said Rogersville head coach Denny McHenry. “All we have discussed is that if we want the same chance to win a district championship we have to control the things that we can control and that is to get back in the gym and work on the things that will make each girl a better individual player in the offseason.
“Part of that is also the belief that your coaching staff and teammates will give you 100 percent of their trust and loyalty to becoming the best team we can be.”
For Rogersville, that could be a really good team this winter, in what will be McHenry’s 29th as a coach.
The back-to-back COC Small champs return three starters and three letterwinners from last year, including COC Small Player of the Year Jordyn Gault.
The 5-foot-7 junior wing averaged 12.9 points and 4.2 rebounds for Rogersville last year and has only added to her game this offseason.
“She has continued to work on her strengths, but one of the things that she is working on is her individual moves to be able to get herself open,” said McHenry. “Although her teammates have done a great job at getting her open, we know she is going to be a marked young lady every night.”
Also returning in the backcourt is senior point guard Hailey Brown, who averaged a team-high 3.1 assists to go along with 8.6 points.
A trio of juniors – Taylor Overstreet, Sydney Dunavant and Grace Gorman – will also return after lettering a year ago.
McHenry doesn’t have an abundance of size, but 5-foot-10 junior Maci McHenry, his youngest child, is back after averaging 8.1 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds.
She was also an All-COC selection.
“My kids have all been fun to coach, teach, and just to be around every day at practice,” said Coach. “I’m sure they wouldn’t always agree with that but they have gotten a lot of great qualities from their mother.
“Being the last of five children, and getting towards the end of my career, makes coaching Maci that much more special.”
McHenry is also expecting contributions from a strong group of newcomers.
Senior Kayla McAllister is seen as a versatile, athletic defender. Sophomores Callie Baron, Shayley Dunavant, Shelby Ince and Sophia Nixon are also expected to compete for varsity minutes with Baron adding frontcourt depth, Ince being known for her versatility and both Dunavant and Nixon being high-IQ guards.
In the quest for the program’s first district championship since 2009, McHenry has again loaded the schedule.
In addition to customary games with powers Strafford, West Plains and Republic, the Lady Cats will lace ’em up against Class 5 Battle, Class 5 Willard, Class 3 quarterfinalist Southern Boone and Class 1 runner-up Walnut Grove.
Win or lose, McHenry’s bunch will be battle-tested come March.
“At LR we want our young ladies to know that we want to schedule the best because to beat the best, you must play the best,” said McHenry. “If we’re going to compete for conference and district championship at the end of the season you can’t be afraid of putting yourself out there, or afraid of losing.”
Rogersville will open the 2017-18 season at home against Battle on Nov. 21.