By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
They were focused on rebuilding, and the Lady Bears nearly went .500 last season; they posted a 13-14 record after losing standout players and with a new head coach at the helm. Judy Tilley returns to lead Willow Springs in a tough SCA conference and will help her team build on what they started.
Among four lost to graduation were all-district, all-conference players and leading scorers Kianna Rothermich and Liliya Dudko. The Lady Bears do have talented options to fill the open guard and post positions, however, starting with the senior class.
“My six seniors are stepping up and doing a great job already,” said Coach Tilley. “They are handling situations I would have had to handle last year. I’m proud of the way they are willing to go to the next level.”
Senior Sydney Miller is skilled at shooting and ball handling and was an all-conference team member last season. She is consistent on both sides of the ball and should put up a chunk of the team’s points this season after averaging 10 last year. “Sydney is a quiet leader who keeps everyone going,” said Coach Tilley.
Alexa Fredrick is a tough and versatile senior, and Shyanne Figley is a physical post player who has increased her stamina in the weight room. Madison Porter will control the tempo and is a good ball handler and defender.
Kylie Ennis and Bella Melvin round out the senior class. Ennis finishes well around the basket and Melvin is a tenacious rebounder and tough player who will give it her all each game.
Junior Tessa Duddridge is a strong defender and shooter and will be helpful in a variety of roles for the team. Classmate Darcy Poynter is a transfer from Richland with two years of varsity experience. She’s a good outside shooter that brings a lot of energy to the table.
Alyssa Von Allmen averaged 3.2 points per game as a freshman and returns with her hustle and rebounding skill to aid the Lady Bears.
“We have a lot of talent from the freshman class and up,” said Coach Tilley.
But talent isn’t the only thing the Lady Bears have going for them; their camaraderie is something special.
“We don’t have to try to make them like one another just to make them get things done,” said Tilley. “They get to know each other, they do things together, they’re a tight-knit group. We’re not just a team, we’re family.”
The Lady Bears want to be known for playing hard, getting after people, and their tenacity on defense, but they also want to be remembered as good sportsmen. Coach Tilley noted her team was recognized by MSHSAA last season for their sportsmanship and how they handled themselves with class.
“It’s not worth it if you are going to go back on what you are really teaching your kids to do,” said Coach Tilley. “We want them to be hard-working, dedicated sportsmen.”
“We are focused and really want to see what we can accomplish this year,” she added.
Willow Springs takes on West Plains at home November 19 to start their season.