By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
For the last few seasons, Meredith Sharp played much bigger than her 5’8” frame.
The post player led Greenwood in scoring (14 points per game) and rebounding (7 rebounds per game) last season while also shooting nearly 70-percent from the free throw line.
Her graduation leaves a major production gap for the Greenwood girls’ basketball team to fill.
Thankfully for the Blue Jays, they have a decent amount of experience returning to the floor.
“We have three starters returning and four overall players that saw varsity action last year,” said Greenwood coach Kent Hedgpeth. “Team balance will be key in relation to handling pressure, rebounding and playing defense.
“We have a nice mix of experienced and young players that should improve offensively as the season progresses.”
Senior Meredith Montgomery (10.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) ranks first in scoring and rebounding among Greenwood’s returning players. At 5’8”, she’s also one of Greenwood’s tallest players.
“Meredith has the ability to play inside and out,” Hedgpeth said. “She improved her ball handling last year. Her leadership will be a strong asset for us.”
Joining her are the junior tandem of Averi Kessler (6.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and Fallon Yarnell (2.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg).
“Averi is an excellent shooter with an improved floor game, (which) should make her a more confident player this year,” Hedgpeth said. “Fallon will be expected to wear many hats this year. She’s a good defender and has improved her ballhandling skills.”
Rounding out the returning varsity group are junior Emma McCall and sophomores Anna McNay and Sage Vahldick.
“Emma has good speed and should improve with more experience,” Hedgpeth said. “Anna’s a good rebounder and we’re looking to improve her offensive skills as she gets more playing time. Sage is a hard-working player who will give us valuable minutes in a variety of spots.”
The Jays finished 9-12 overall last season, falling to Spokane in the opening round of the Class 2 District 10 tournament.
As a team, Greenwood averaged about 40 points per game last season. The Jays were 5-1 in games in which they scored 50 or more.
In addition to Sharp, Greenwood graduated two other varsity contributors.
Katherine Ulmer (9.6 ppg) was the team’s starting point guard. Hedgpeth described Yeasoe Kim as an “excellent defender and teammate.”
Three freshmen will push for varsity playing time: Keely Roberts, Mallory Montgomery and Crosby Mills. Mallory is the younger sister of Meredith.
“We hope to put a team on the floor that is versatile and can adapt to different opponents,” Hedgpeth said.
Greenwood opens the regular season at the Everton Invitational (Nov. 27 – Dec. 1). The Jays’ home opener is Dec. 1 against Morrisville.
Greenwood will also compete in the New Covenant Lady Warrior Classic (Dec. 4-8).