2017-18 Winter Preview: Kickapoo Girls Basketball

By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Few teams have been hit harder by graduation and injuries over the last two years than Kickapoo.

The Lady Chiefs are still riding the wave from winning a state championship in 2016, but this year’s edition won’t feature a single starter from that team.

Jim Pendergrass enters his eighth season at the helm, but must replace 67% of scoring from last year’s Ozark Conference championship team, including two all-staters.

Jordan Sanders is now at UC-Irvine and partner in crime Jordan Wersinger will be back at Kickapoo, but will likely sit out the entire 2017-18 season after tearing her ACL during the summer.

Wersinger, a Central Missouri commit, averaged 19 points and 4.5 assists as a junior.

“Our squad this year will be young and inexperienced,” said Pendergrass. “We won’t replace what we lost with an individual but as a group this team can grow together throughout the season.

“Our team will need to be really good on defense, take care of the basketball, outrebound our opponent and play incredibly hard. I’m excited to watch the development of this team.”

Senior guard Hannah Collins will provide the leadership as a four-year letterman and one of two active seniors on the roster. Collins averaged nine points last year and is one of the top long distance shooters in the Ozarks.

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Classmate Carli Prosser will also provide perimeter depth.

Sophomore Jaden Wiley is back after emerging as one of the top defenders in the Ozark conference. Wiley will also be counted on to take a larger role offensively and her athleticism makes her an elite defender.

Juniors Autumn Stephens and Lexi Armstrong, as well as sophomore Leah Fredrick, should also figure into the guard rotation.

Katrice Jackson (6-foot) and Natasha Whittet (5-foot-10), both juniors, will solidify the frontcourt.

The Lady Chiefs will be inexperienced, but there is plenty of length, athleticism and talent on this roster, especially with the incoming freshman class.

A trio of 6-footer freshmen in Indya Green, Rachel Senn and Madie Barrett could figure into the rotation immediately, as could 5-foot-9 wing Chloe Merced.

Sophomore Mia Thompson gives Pendergrass another gritty defender.

There will be new faces, but this is still a program that has won 10 of the last 15 Ozark Conference titles, with three state championships in that span.

Pendergrass is confident this group wants to continue the rich tradition that Kickapoo has.

“It’s not just one thing that goes into a successful program,” said Pendergrass. “To be successful you need good players, players that want to be coached, players that develop their game in the offseason, players that put the team above their own accomplishments, and we have parents that let coaches coach. We have had that and I’m thankful. The tradition here is something we are very proud of.”

Kickapoo will open the 2017-18 season on Nov. 20 vs. Belton.

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