By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
A new face will be patrolling the court for Carthage this season, as Scott Moore replaces former head coach Chad Jones.
Jones spent the last three years in Ark. at Rogers Heritage. Prior to that, he served on Kellie Harper’s staff at Missouri State.
“This is my 23rd year of coaching basketball, but my first at Carthage,” Moore said. “I have been pleasantly surprised at how hard these Lady Tigers are willing to work and how accepting of my coaching they have been the first five months on the job.”
Carthage finished the 2018-19 campaign with a 13-14 record, falling to Republic in the district semifinals.
Moore’s first order of business will be finding replacements for a host of graduated seniors.
“We lost 8 seniors that played the majority of the minutes and accounted for the bulk of all statistical categories last year,” Moore said.
Lexi Black, Sierrah Negrette, Sydney Peters, Riley Kabance, Jillian Brunnert, Karley Crowe, Mia Duncan and Jaxsyn Anderson all move on from the program.
Despite the heavy roster turnover, Carthage does return one blue chip starter in Hailey Fullerton (9.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.3 spg, 1.8 bpg).
The 6-foot-1 junior guard is a versatile weapon for the Lady Tigers and a capable scorer both in and out of the paint.
Fullerton will be joined by a quartet of varsity newcomers.
A trio of seniors in Karlee Kinder, Sara Golden and Jordan Miller, along with freshman Kiana Yates should all see extended minutes this season and make immediate impacts at the varsity level.
“The three seniors have all played some varsity the past couple of years, but this will be the first year that they will be relied upon to do the bulk of the scoring for the team,” Moore said. “Karlee, Sara and Jordan easily took over the role of team leaders and major contributors this summer during our practices and team camps. I expect them to continue to grow in those roles this season.”
Moore also has high expectations for Yates, although the freshman guard will need to rapidly acclimate herself to the speed and pace at the varsity level.
“Kiana will have the biggest adjustment of this group as she will jump from junior high all the way to starting varsity point guard,” Moore said. “Her work ethic and competitive spirit will ease that adjustment, and the team is already running smoothly with her at the helm.”
With only one returning starter in Fullerton, inexperience could be an issue early on as the season unfolds; however, Moore believes Carthage’s scoring capabilities will help ease that transition.
“I’ve been very pleased with our team chemistry and our ability to shoot the ball,” Moore said. “Having a new head coach can make chemistry a problem, as the coach tries to install their way of doing things and blend all the grades into a cohesive unit. We will be able to shoot the three from all five positions on the floor which will put defenses at a disadvantage as they try to guard all five players at all times.”
While Moore hopes to establish a tough, defensive-minded philosophy as a program cornerstone, its development may take some time in the midst of a difficult conference and district schedule.
“I think the biggest X-factor for us will be our team defense and how quickly we can assimilate our new defensive concepts into a cohesive, lock-down defensive unit,” Moore said. “The girls worked hard this summer to learn the new techniques that I’ve installed, but until we go against COC varsity level competition, we won’t know the overall success of our team.”
Carthage opens its season at home Nov. 26 against Hillcrest.