By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Hartville notched a 25-4 record last season, winning its first district title in ten years.
While the Lady Eagles fell in the Class 2 sectional round to eventual state champion Neelyville, head coach Mike Percival hopes to build on last season’s success.
Hartville’s program loses a quartet of graduated seniors, including Grace Still, Ashlynne Dickinson, Ally Coltrane and Sydney Howe.
Still and Dickinson both started for the Lady Eagles last season.
“We graduated four girls and they will be hard to replace.” Percival said. “However, we have several girls who have been waiting to get their opportunity on the varsity level, and this is their year to step in to those new roles.”
Hartville returns seven lettermen, led by senior all-state selection Sadie Chisum (16.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.6 rpg, 3.2 spg).
A four-year starter, 5-foot-6 Chisum has a verbal commitment to Evangel to continue her basketball career next season.
“Sadie has lead us in every statistic for the past two seasons,” Percival said. “She is what makes us go and is one of those players who makes everyone around her better. She is always working to improve her game and it has paid off for her. We expect her final season at Hartville to be her best.”
Other varsity returnees include 5-foot-5 senior Skylar Divine (7.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg), 5-foot-9 junior Grace Culer (9.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg), 5-foot-9 junior Katie Still (5.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg), 5-foot-5 junior Bailey Martin, 5-foot-7 sophomore Jadalyn Keith and 5-foot-5 sophomore Morgan Kelley.
Percival also feels 5-foot-9 freshman McKinley Sanders, daughter of assistant coach Steve Sanders, could be an impact player for Hartville this season.
“McKinley was a top player in our conference in junior high,” Percival said. “She has all the tools to be a really good basketball player.”
For Hartville to be successful this season, its defense must set the tone.
“We hope to use our speed to our advantage by creating turnovers and getting easy baskets in transition,” Percival said, “We feel that if we give our best defensive effort every night we have a chance to compete with everyone on our schedule.”
With both experience and depth on the roster, Percival has high expectations for his team and a postseason run isn’t out of the question by any means.
“Our conference and district both have a lot of good teams,” Percival said. “If we want to achieve our goal of winning both, we will have be a great defensive team and be more consistent on the offensive side than we were last year. We feel like we have the kids to compete for both this year and we are ready to get started.”
Hartville opens its season Nov. 27 at New Covenant Academy