By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
For two years, the Houston Lady Tigers have been thwarted in the district championship game to end their season. Head coach Jim Moore will return for his third year with the team, now missing key players who helped them to the post-season and last year’s 11-14 record. But what the Lady Tigers lack in experience, they make up for in talent.
Houston will miss their leading scorer Kaitlyn Root, an all-conference selection who was effective in the post and pulled down 7 rebounds per game. All-conference shooter Chloe Hunninghake, point guard Savanna Rowland, and defensive player Carly Crawford also left roles to fill.
Three seniors return to lead the team. Ally Morgan peaked late in the season last year, averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds the final month, a marked improvement over her previous 9.7 points and 6.3 rebounds. The all-conference 5’11” senior is poised for a big year. Madi Curtis has been described as a spark plug and a hard-nosed player, and she’ll be tasked with providing numbers while she energizes. At 6’1”, Kennedy Campbell “has the ability to create a lot of havoc,” said Coach Moore. She is a versatile player and can create matchup problems for her opponents.
“They will be expected to lead this team by example both on and off the floor,” said Coach Moore of his seniors. “By doing this, they will set the tone for how our season develops and the future of our program.”
Athletic junior Kelly Hubbs is a hard worker and has improved each year. She averaged 5.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game last season.
Coach Moore described Jaden Stell as a gym rat. “She loves to play the game,” he said. The sophomore point guard moves into a starting role and should have a breakout year, particularly with her ability to knock down threes.
Newcomers include sophomores Danielle Walker and Riley Scheets. Walker is strong on defense and a skilled ball handler, and Scheets has quality footwork and could add depth to the post.
Hannah Dzurick, freshman, could post big numbers for the Lady Tigers thanks to her skill set and work ethic.
The Lady Tigers have been working to develop experience by hustling in practice.
“We try to put as much game-type pressure on them as possible and challenge them every day, whether it be a drill or even the occasional life lesson,” said Coach Moore. “Our hope is it makes us smarter, more experienced players by the time districts get here.”
Moore said he expects his team to compete and take advantage of opportunities for growth.
“People around the area know we have lost a big core of players to graduation last year and the year before,” he noted. “They know we are young, but I see how hard we work day in and day out. I see how this team bonds together and are working for common goals. I just believe we have the ability to be a tough out by the end of the season.”
Houston’s first regular season game is at home against Camdenton on November 19.