By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Nevada enjoyed a successful run last year, and expectations remain high for another run at the postseason.
The Lady Tigers finished the season with a 22-5 record, falling to Kearney in the Class 4 sectional round.
Nevada graduated just one senior in defensive stopper Hailey Jackson, which gives head coach Brett Bartlett — entering his 22nd season with the program — plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
“We have a group of girls that are very athletic and tenacious,” Bartlett said. “Our team depth is a strength.”
Leading the charge for the Lady Tigers will be a trio of all-conference and all-district selections in senior Calli Beshore (12.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.9 apg, 3.5 spg), classmate Payge Dahmer (12.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.8 spg) and junior Allison Bower (10.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.3 apg).
Senior Teagan Charles (4.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) rounds out the returning starters for the Lady Tigers.
In addition to its starters, Nevada also returns a quintet of lettermen in senior Lindley Ferry (5.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg), classmate Hailee Lundine (4.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg) and juniors Tylin Heathman (4.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg), Abby Harder and Maleigha Hinton.
Newcomers expected to compete for varsity minutes include senior Lindsay Phebus and sophomores Claire Pritchett, Grace Barnes and Bailey Ast.
Phebus returns to the team after sitting out last season. The 6-foot post player started a few games during her freshman and sophomore seasons.
With a deep and athletic squad, Bartlett hopes to cause havoc at the defensive end while limiting turnovers on offense.
“We will be trying to generate points with our defensive pressure,” Bartlett said. “Taking care of the basketball is another important key to success.”
For Nevada to navigate another challenging Big 8 Conference and district schedule, Bartlett believes health and rebounding could play key roles.
“Staying healthy and being a strong rebounding team will be the keys to a fine season,” Bartlett said. “We will have good inside/outside combinations playing together that gained valuable varsity experience the last two or three years.”
Should things fall into place, Nevada could very well find itself on the cusp of another deep postseason run, which would suit Bartlett just fine.
“I expect us to be very competitive this year,” Bartlett said. “Our goal is to go farther than we have ever gone before.”
Nevada opens its season Dec. 2 with the Freeman Sports Medicine CJ Classic.