By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Meagan Nunn may be new to the title of “varsity head coach,” but she is no stranger to Hillcrest High School.
After three years as an assistant coach for the girls’ basketball program, Nunn takes over a team that struggled to a 2-22 overall record, 0-9 in the Ozark Conference and suffered a 59-54 loss to Bolivar in the Class 4 District 9 Tournament.
“We definitely did not meet expectations we had for the season, but did find that we must teach and consciously practice a winning mind-set,” Nunn said. “The challenges we ran into were putting all four quarters together. I believe that came from not having a deep enough bench and/or not being in good enough shape.”
Gone from last year’s team are Jasmyn Johnson and Reagan Jamison. Hillcrest will miss Johnson’s height in the paint, as well as her leadership; and Jamison’s hard work will be missed by the Lady Hornets.
“After a couple of losing seasons, our biggest obstacle is the lack of a winning mind-set,” Nunn said. “As coaches, we need to foster that confident, positive mind-set, in order to be successful. Our team is in desperate need of leadership. I hope to pull the leadership out of the senior group.”
The Lady Hornets do have a great deal of experience returning with five seniors and a sophomore ready to contribute.
• Sarah Hale – 5-5 senior – Averaged 10.4 points per game, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. “Sarah is the heartbeat of this team. She has led us offensively and defensively the past few years, and we will look to her this year to take on a more vocal leadership role.”
• Madison Shafferkoetter – 5-6 senior – Averaged 7.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2 apg. “Madison is one of the most athletic girls in the area. She has the ability to score from any range.”
• Kelly Tran – 5-5 senior – Averaged 2.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 apg. “Kelly has been one of our best 3-point shooters, but has worked hard this offseason to improve her mid-range jumpers, as well as her ball handling.”
• Lydia Conlon – 5-0 senior – “Lydia has the ability to be our defensive spark.”
• Daciyah Maina – 5-10 senior – Averaged 4.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.0 apg. “We will look for her to be a big presence for us in the paint… as well as being our leading rebounder and contesting shots on defense.”
• Cora Shatto – 5-1 sophomore – “Cora’s ball handling ability will prove to help us under pressure, as well as her ‘go-getter’ defense.”
Nunn has four freshmen coming in who she looks to make an impact on the Lady Hornets’ program.
Those newcomers include: Mariah Robinson (5-7), Arianna Langley (5-4), Chloe Sutherland (5-11) and Jimm’esha Davis (5-10).
“The team’s biggest strength is their coachability,” Nunn said. “Their coachability will take them far; it will allow us to grow and improve as we implement new things into our program.”
The Lady Hornets open their season at the Carthage Tournament on Nov. 26, and will play in the Pink and White Tournament, starting Dec. 26, and the Bolivar Tournament on Jan. 14.
“I am hoping to show the conference and district a brand new Lady Hornets team,” Nunn said. “Between raising team expectations, creating a winning mind-set, and our senior experience mixed with young talent, I think we will surprise some teams and win the close games this year.”