By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
After an early exit in district play last season and the loss of three key seniors, the Greenwood Lady Blue Jays are looking for a fresh start this coming season.
“We have some solid parts returning from last year’s squad and are hoping to add youth to that experience and improve on the record from 2018-19,” noted head coach Mike Percival, who is returning to his old stomping grounds. Percival previously coached at Greenwood during the 1989-90 season and is returning to the Lady Blue Jay family this year to start his 32nd year of coaching.
Last year, Greenwood finished 5-16. Its season ended in the opening round of districts with a one-sided 79-13 loss to Blue Eye.
Greenwood’s returners are led by the play of junior Keely Roberts, who averaged 20.2 points per game last year as a sophomore. Roberts also led the team in steals and assists per game, averaging 6.5 and 3.1 respectively. Another impact player for Percival will be Mallory Montgomery, a junior who averaged 10.1 points per game last season.
Other key returners include seniors Sage Vahldick and Kylie Schaller. Vahldick averaged 2.1 rebounds per game for the Lady Jays while Crosby Mills, a junior, averaged .6 points and .4 rebounds per game.
Sophomores Rachael Lordemann and Chloe Deppe are both back to the team after missing their freshmen seasons with injuries.
With such a strong returning core, the pieces are there for Greenwood to have a good year this season. However, the Lady Jays will have to cope with the losses of graduated seniors Averi Kessler, Emma McCall, and Fallon Yarnell.
“I think we are going to have a pretty good season,” Vahldick said. “We lost some good seniors, but we have new freshman talent coming in that will help us out. It will take some hard work, but I think we will have a successful season.”
Roberts agreed: “This year I have high expectations for the Lady Jays. All of us are very excited for the upcoming season! We will miss our seniors from last year, but we have some underclassmen who are ready to step up. Our team is really close and we all have a great bond with one another. We can’t wait to start a new season with our new coaches.”
The youth that Percival and his players speak about comes in the form of four freshmen. Bella Stuckey, MaKinley McCall, Tess Fowler, and Rilyn Anderson will all be looking to contribute in a big way during their first season with Greenwood, as will junior forward Kaitlyn Nielson.
With the struggles of last year behind them, the Greenwood Lady Jays are looking toward the future. Percival is trying to build a strong program for the Lady Jays, and he knows the turnaround could start as soon as this coming basketball season. “We are looking to establish a solid foundation that will become a formula for success for Greenwood Lady Blue Jay Basketball for years to come,” he noted.