By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Kickapoo captured its second-straight district title last season before falling 55-46 to Republic in the Class 5 sectional round. The Lady Chiefs wrapped up the 2018-19 campaign with a 22-7 record.
While two graduated players depart the program in Natasha Whittet and Kylee Wilson, Kickapoo head coach Jim Pendergrass — entering his ninth season at the school — returns a wealth of experience and firepower to the lineup.
The Lady Chiefs will also, once again, feature one of the area’s tallest lineups– a quartet of players are at or over the 6-foot mark.
Kickapoo will be led by leading scorer and all-state selection Indya Green.
The 6-foot junior averaged 11.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per contest last season.
Green will be joined by senior Leah Fredrick (7.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg) and juniors Chloe Merced (10.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Rachel Senn (4.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Maddie Barrett (3.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg).
Sophomores Macie Conway (9 ppg, 2 rpg) and Kaylee Corbin (1.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg) also return to the Kickapoo lineup.
Sophomore Bella Fontleroy (9.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg), listed as the No. 21 prospect in the nation for 2022’s class by ESPN HoopGurlz, is out this season with a torn ACL.
Pendergrass hopes the experience gained by last year’s young team will pay big dividends heading into the new season.
“Our players gained valuable experience last year,” Pendergrass said. “This season we must outwork our opponents.”
The Lady Chiefs will also feature a trio of newcomers eager to make an impact at the varsity level, including sophomore Brooke Turner, freshman Mya Nieto and freshman Karli Facklam.
Kickapoo’s challenging schedule will ensure the team is battle-tested once the postseason rolls around.
In addition to a competitive Ozarks Conference gauntlet featuring Rolla and West Plains, the schedule includes Fayetteville (a top-3 team in Ark.), Jefferson City (Class 5 state runner-up in 2019), Republic (Class 5 Final Four in 2019), Ozark, Rock Bridge and Carl Junction.
The Lady Chiefs are also set to for another appearance in the Pink & White holiday tournament.
For another deep postseason run to be in the cards, Pendergrass feels his team must learn to impose its will, defensively.
“I would like to see this team grow their physical and mental toughness,” Pendergrass said. “We must be better on defense at contesting shots and making it difficult for opponents to score.”
Following a jamboree at Parkview on Nov. 14, Kickapoo opens its season Nov. 26 at home against Harrison, Ark.