The Cabool girls lose their two leading scorers from a team that won 10 games last year, but the rest of the roster returns ready to improve on last year’s campaign that ended in a first-round district loss to Houston.
“I thought our core group we have coming back all made strides in the right direction, both last season and this summer,” Cabool head coach Rance Beller said. “Obviously this year I am going to have some people in new positions, and taking on different roles on the team.”
Kaila Shannon and Alyssa Matherly are the two players Beller must replace after they averaged 13.1 and 10.8 points per game last year, respectively.
Katylnn Ellison will look to improve on a freshman year that saw her post 9.9 points per game. She also chipped in 3.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and two steals per game.
“Katlynn is a very talented player, and really works hard to improve. This summer I really saw her embrace her role as our main ball handler, and deliver passes to people in a spot where they could score the ball,” Beller said. “Katlynn also shot the outside shot much better this summer. I think that will be vital in her overall game this year. She really got into the lane well last season, but this year I expect her to be a real weapon from behind the arc as well.”
Rebounding is a place where Cabool will not struggle with its top three rebounders returning. Seniors Joelle Atkins and Kaitlen Beller along with junior Jaydra Johonson pulled down 9.4, 8.3 and 7.4 rebounds per game, respectively.
“I think as we were last year we are going to have good size on the interior both offensively and defensively,” Beller said. “That does not always translate into rebounds, but these kids have a good nose for the ball and will go after it. They also have a very healthy competition as to who is going to get the most rebounds each game, as well as for the year.”
Beller is a physical rebounder and defender for the Lady Bulldogs along with being their key player when it comes time to inbound the ball. Atkins is a deterrent on the interior of the defense with her ability to block and alter shots after averaging 3.6 blocks per game last year.
Sophomore Adiran Fleetwood will get an opportunity to contribute on varsity along with a host of freshman players.
Cabool will look to remain competitive each night and peak at the right time this year.
“I expect us to compete with most teams on a night in and night out basis,” Beller said. “As with any season, we are going to have some roles that will be become more defined as the season goes on, and we hope to be playing our best basketball as districts roll around.”
Cabool opens its season on Nov. 25 at Chadwick.