By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Willow Springs finished 14-12 last season, falling to Houston in districts for the third of the teams’ four meetings on the season. The Lady Bears then lost three significant players to graduation. Now, former assistant coach Judy Tilley takes the helm in a rebuilding year, but she expects her team to put up a fight in a competitive SCA conference.
The Lady Bears will forge on without their leading scorer, first team all-conference and all-district standout Devin Perkins. Perkins averaged 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Michaela Cox led the team in assists, averaging 4.3 per game, and was effective running the offense. Grace Bailey pulled down 4 rebounds per game and was a leader for her team.
But senior Kianna Rothermich is no stranger to the game, a returning team leader and hard worker who can shoot from outside. Last year, she averaged 9.6 ppg. Senior Lilya Dudko (5’9”) was also clutch for the Lady Bears last year, averaging 9 points and 8 rebounds each night. With her work in the weight room in the offseason and a district volleyball title under her belt, Dudko’s strength, athleticism and prowess at the rim will benefit the Lady Bears.
Junior Sydney Miller is also a hard worker and returning letterman. She is strong in fundamentals and a good shooter and defender. She averaged 7 ppg and 2 rebounds last season. Alexa Fredrick, 5’9” junior, is tough, versatile, and is expected to be a shooting threat. Classmate Shyanne Figley will bring physicality to the post position and will work to improve on last year’s 2.3 points and 3 rebounds per game. Madison Porter will be tasked with ball handling, controlling the tempo, and playing good defense.
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Tessa Duddridge, 5’6” sophomore, is a skilled defender who averaged 2.4 ppg as a freshman.
Newcomers include juniors Kylie Ennis and Bella Melvin. Standing at 5’8”, Ennis will help in the post with her shooting. Coach Tilley described Melvin as “tenacious,” saying she is willing to help wherever required. Grace Minge is a senior who will add depth and leadership skills. Junior Brooke Phillips rounds out the team, a move-in from Perryville who will play in the post.
Coach Tilley said while her team is transitioning, expectations are still high.
“They are all hard workers that are unselfish and want what is best for the team,” she said. “We want to be known for being tough and tenacious. I think our strength will be our ability to play together and have each other’s back.”
The Lady Bears host Conway November 20.