2017-18 Winter Preview: Licking Girls Basketball

By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Steven Rissler has quietly put together a loaded resume entering his sixth season at Licking; five seasons, four district titles and 104 wins and counting.

The only Class 3 program that has put together a better resume over the last half decade is Strafford.

But, after suffering bad luck, running into hot teams or seeing the eventual state champ, Rissler and the Lady Wildcats are hungry to finally get past Sectionals after having suffered four Sectional losses in the last five years.

“It has been frustrating to lose in four Sectionals but at the same time it has been a fun experience,” said Rissler. “We’ve been hit by the flu bug two of those years and the other two we competed well but just couldn’t get it done.

“If we are fortunate enough to get to a fifth sectional this season we will do all we can to advance but at that level everyone is good. There are no district winners in Class 3 that aren’t talented. We would prep like normal and hopefully playing in that situation before will help us be more relaxed and confident but I know we have our hands full in districts and are not overlooking anyone.”

The group presented with the challenge of getting Licking over the hump is an experienced one, with four starters and eight total letterwinners back, including All-Frisco League selection Karlee Holland.


The 5-foot-6 sophomore is the team’s returning leader in scoring (15.9), assists (4.1) and steals (3.2).

“Karlee had been working out in the summer with the varsity since her seventh grade year; I knew she would be an immediate difference maker,” said Rissler. “I tried to put her in positions to make plays and she did. Her ability to handle pressure helped us change from a 10-win to a 23-win team.

“The other girls didn’t have to worry about handling the ball, they were able to relax and make plays. The attention Karlee gets on offense opened up shots for our shooters.”

And many of those shooters are also returning this winter.

Senior McKenzie Cook (7.3 points) is one of the team’s best catch-and-shoot players and should have plenty of opportunities to let it fly this season. Junior Athena Hood is a glue player with a high basketball IQ, but she also shoots better than 32 percent from deep.

Senior Dalrayn Feringa is known for her perimeter shooting, but the 5-foot-9 forward is the team’s most gifted athlete, even making LeBron James-like chase down blocks. She put up 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds last year, along with a team-high 31 blocks. Classmate Taylor Dawson is another long defender and rim protector.

Junior Lexi Hadix came on strong at the end of last season, contributing on both ends of the floor, and is another guard that can stretch the floor. Twin sister Lainy has a very similar game and is expected to provide guard depth this season.

Sophomore Abby Moncrief will provide another interior presence, with her 5-foot-10 frame and footwork offering her the ability to make an immediate impact on both ends. Classmate Bailie Joyner will also provide post depth.

Freshmen Tomi Rose and Anna Sullins will also see varsity minutes.

Licking’s depth and versatility will again allow Rissler to trap all over the floor and use defensive pressure to create tempo, which has been a staple of Licking Basketball.

As always, the expections for the Lady Cats are extremely high.

“We have done everything we could do to be prepared for this season,” said Rissler. “All the girls have continued to develop their skill set as they move through the program and that’s all I can ask for as a coach. Hopefully we get some breaks and put ourselves in a position to play into mid-March.”

Licking will open the 2017-18 season in the Frisco League Tournament from Nov. 25-Dec. 2.

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