By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Brittany Matlock’s 11th season at Waynesville will be one that challenges the foundation that she’s build over the last decade.
The Lady Tigers have seen tremendous growth, becoming a program with sky-high expectations that regularly produces college basketball players. Nowhere was that more apparent than the Class of 2018, a group that put together back-to-back 20-win campaigns and was a mainstay in the state poll.
“Re’shawna, Kiara, and Katie left their mark,” said Matlock. “They were a great group of girls on and off the court. Also a very competitive group that were fun to coach and led us in almost all stat categories the last two years.
Re’Shawna Stone (Glenville State) and Kiara Shoulders (Lincoln) have moved on, but Waynesville will look to reload rather than rebuild behind a pair of explosive guards in senior Victoria Perry and sophomore Naudia Evans.
Both Perry and Evans averaged 9 PPG and 4 RPG last season. Dynamic guards that can put a ton of pressure on opposing teams off the dribble, Perry and Evans will slide into the void left by Stone and Shoulders and likely form one of the best backcourts in the Ozarks.
“We do have some pieces,” said Matlock. “We just have to put them together. Naudia & Victoria have put a lot of time into their all-around game during this off season. We have gaps to fill and they are aware of the added responsibilities they will carry and the attention they will draw.”
Senior forward Afatia Poinsette also returns after lettering last year. She averaged 3 PPG and 3 RPG as a junior.
The roster will be filled out with returning players competing for minutes and roles throughout the season.
Waynesville’s schedule will again be tough, including a Dec. 14 showdown with Arkansas 5A Final Four squad Nettleton. The Raiders bring back Arkansas State commit Mya Love from a 29-3 team. Jefferson City and 6-foot-3 Mizzou commit Micah Linthacum is also on the schedule.
The Lady Tigers will also be tested throughout another strenuous Ozark Conference stretch as the program continues to sustain the growth it’s experienced over the last half decade with a new crop of emerging stars.
“I expect it to be anyone’s game on any given night,” said Mattlock. “We have some tough players in our league, teams with great tradition, new coaches, and all the makings for another exciting OC title battle.
“We’ve been very blessed to have some great kids, past and present, in our program. The past has laid a great foundation that we want to keep building on. Each season brings its own challenges. However, I would like to think this group has experienced some success and they are ready for their opportunity to leave their mark on the program.”
Waynesville will open the 2018-19 season on Dec. 1 against Columbia Battle.