Star forward Kallie Bildner drove the success of Waynesville’s girls’ basketball program last season, making it to the sectional round in the Class 5 state tournament.
Bildner finished her career with 2,050 points and 1,172 rebounds (both school records) and averaged 26 PPG, 14 RPG, 1.7 SPG and 1.1 BPG last year in her senior campaign. She received Class 5 and Ozark Conference Player of the Year honors.
The 6’3” forward now plays for Lindenwood in St. Charles. Her absence leaves a clear void in the Lady Tigers’ lineup.
“We aren’t going to replace her,” said head coach Brittany Matlock. “Kallie is a great player. As we do every season, we will evaluate our strength and weakness and make adjustments as we go. Each player will have to adjust to their new role. As we get more comfortable with our new roles or additions, we will grow as a team.”
Waynesville returns a key group of varsity contributors this season. Senior Nina Kizzee and juniors Re’Shawna Stone and Kiara Shoulders each received All-Ozark Conference honors last year.
Kizzee is the point guard and “floor general” of this squad according to Coach Matlock.
“Nina has been a team captain every year,” she said. “I have the same expectations for her leadership-wise.”
Those three All-Conference players, along with senior G/F Ashton Pilz, led the team in scoring average last year behind Bildner. Those four core players will be pivotal to their success this season.
“Ashton Pilz is a 5’10” senior returning starter that played a big role in our success last season,” Matlock said. “She will be taking on more of a leadership role this season along with additional responsibilities… Re’Shawna will also take on more of a leadership role this season. She has continued to work on her all-around game and is maturing.
“We focus on team defense and Kiara [Shoulders] makes hustle plays. She has played well opposite Kallie inside the last few seasons. I look for her to continue to grow and show improvement in all areas with some added responsibilities.”
Aside from losing arguably the program’s best player ever, Waynesville will face another challenge: Ozark Conference rival Kickapoo won the Class 5 state championship last season. Waynesville has the Lady Chiefs at home this year in their regular season finale on Feb. 23.
Waynesville will look to compete in the conference once again and repeat as district champs in 2016-17.
“We want to continue to be competitive,” said Matlock. “We have to adjust to our new roles. As we understand and adjust to our new roles, I’d like to think the possibilities will grow in our favor.”