Sparta girls start season with new coach

Sparta, Mo (For  -- School: Sparta High School

School Mascot: Trojan

Head coach name:  Mike Plante

Assistant coach name: Rocky Valentine

How many years as head coach: 7

Number of years at present school: 1st

Coach’s current record at school: 0-0        

Last year’s record: 24-3                Conference record: 7-0

The Sparta Lady Trojans will start this season with new head coach Mike Plante, who replaces longtime coach Jerry Songer.  

Songer, who led the Lady Trojans to a state title in 2009, will be missed but Plante is not expecting any major changes in the program’s future. Plante believes that his team will continue their recent success and build numbers in the program.

“We are going to work on improving daily and hopefully be a contender for a district title at the end of the season,” said Plante.  Despite a 24-3 record, Sparta’s season came to an end last year at the hands of the young up-start Lady Comets of Marionville as they made their unexpected run to the Final Four.

The loss of graduates Mikalah Hardcastle (18 ppg) and Torie Coffer (8 ppg, 6 apg) will be difficult to replace but Plante believes that his girls are up for the challenge.

Cailyn Long, a 5’10 sophomore forward who averaged 21 points per game last season and received all-conference and all-district honors, will be asked to lead the charge. Also returning will be seniors Nicole Jenkins (5’5 guard, 9 ppg) and Keeley Virtue (5’8 center, 5 ppg).

Long, Jenkins and Virtue were all starters last year and want to continue the winning tradition at Sparta.  

Other key returning lettermen are junior Tensa Gilley (guard), senior Taylor Johnson (Guard) and Brandi Stevens. A couple of newcomers to the squad that could help out are junior Sidney Foley and sophomore Meg Moles.

Sparta will be heading east this year in their district and will be facing some different squads than what they are used to playing: Bakersfield, Dora, Fordland, Gainesville, Mansfield, Norwood and Seymour.

Some key games to watch during the season will be games against conference foes Clever and Crane, and district opponents Fordland and Seymour.

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