The MV-BT Liberty girls will have one of the area’s best players to lean on in senior Piper Francis. The multisport star, who is committed to play basketball at SIU-Edwardsville, poured in 25 points per game last year to go with 6.2 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.3 assists. She is also a strong shooter knocking down 61 of 162 three-point attempts for a 38% average. She currently sits 99 points away from 2,000 for her career.
“Piper is a kid that has and continues to put in a crazy amount of time in the gym working on her game. Her ability to score the ball is a direct link to the work ethic she has employed to be the best scorer she can be,” second-year Liberty head coach Eli Ernst said.
Her time with the team was limited over the summer due to injury issues, but she is healthy now after a strong season on the volleyball court.
“Our expectations for Piper aren’t much different than what they are with any of our athletes,” Ernst said. “We expect to see her and the others, taking the appropriate steps to model growth and development in all aspects of her game. We feel that we all have more to offer our team and we plan to explore what that looks like for us this season.”
Classmate Kamryn Gastineau gives Liberty its second-leading scorer back after she posted 9.9 points per game while leading the team in rebounding at 8 per game.
“Kamryn is a special young lady with a tremendous upside to her. She has increased her level of play so much over last season and into the summer,” Ernst said. “Kamryn has made it her personal point of emphasis to collect every rebound she sees. We certainly will lean on her in this capacity, but will additionally ask her to be more dynamic outside of the lane too.”
Four other letter winners in seniors Trinity Clark and Tayler Randolph along with juniors Kinley Richards and Kaitlyn King are back. Clark started the first 15 games of the year last year before her season ended with a torn ACL. Randolph was the top reserve for the Lady Eagles last season. Richards has grown her confidence in the offseason according to coach Eli Ernst. King made the transition from junior varsity to varsity starter well and is expected to grow even more in her second varsity season.
The Lady Eagles also have an athletic freshman class that will push for playing time. Ernst expects Abby Woolsey to be one of the area’s better freshmen players.
The talented returning players and strong influx of new faces has the Lady Eagles ready to attack the season with good amount of depth.
“I feel our team’s greatest strength this season will be our depth,” Ernst said. “We hope to see some extremely competitive practices as our girls try to validate their roles with their play. We have multiple kids who can make great contributions to the floor and we plan to place them all in situations to do so.”
Ernst has a simple challenge for his girls as they chase big goals this season.
“We have challenged our girls this season to find their MORE,” Ernst said. “Often times, when people hear about there being more of anything we instantly start to anticipate receiving something. We feel that MORE in our cases, is best summed up as there is more to give. We issued a challenge this season for our girls to identify what their more looks like in every avenue of their lives. We recognize that our girls have huge hearts and are looking forward to placing them on display for more people to see.”
MV-BT Liberty opens the season on Nov. 20 at Dora.