West Plains won its first district title in four years last year behind a strong senior duo of Elle Williams and Payton Richards. The Lady Zizzers finished 19-10 before falling to Carl Junction 43-33 in the sectional round.
The production of Williams and Richards will be difficult to replace after they averaged 30.8 points per game combined. Williams also led the team in rebounding at five per game while Richards was the leader in assists at 4.3 per game. The duo each earned all-state honors in careers that saw both amass more than 1,200 points.
Senior Kendra Davidson will shoulder the leadership load this year coming off of back-to-back all-conference honorable mention selections. The three-year starter averaged 7.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game last year.
Fellow three-year starter Lily Harris will miss at least the first part of the season after hurting her knee late in the summer. She would provide a boost if she could make it back after scoring 6.7 points and pulling down 4.8 rebounds per game last year.
The replacement for stalwart Richards at the point is up in the air with Davidson and Harris along with junior Hailey Meeks and newcomers Bre Harlan and Cass Cunningham being candidates to handle the ball.
Meeks was a strong sixth man last year by averaging 3.2 points per game, and West Plains head coach Scott Womack expects her to make a leap this season.
“(She) will continue to develop into a scoring role for us. She has played varsity for the past two years, so she has the experience and skill level to take it to the next level,” Womack said. “She has contributed many other ways over the last two years but wasn’t really counted on to score but will need to this year.”
Juniors Morgan Mahan and Sydni Miller will also be expected to step up. Mahan is a strong defender while Miller provides strong shooting on the perimeter. Classmates Alyssa Sims and Liesel Garrett will step up from junior varsity this season.
Womack expects his new leaders and varsity players to step up right away to continue the Lady Zizzers’ run of success.
“I believe this group has the chance to surprise some people as the year goes along. We made great strides this summer, and if we continue to work throughout the season I think we will be a tough matchup come conference and district time,” Womack said. “They have been successful at every level they have played and they continue to have a great attitude and extremely work hard to continue that success.”
West Plains opens the season Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 at the Fair Grove Tournament.