By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
After losing five key players to graduation, the Parkview Lady Vikings will enter rebuilding mode this coming season. Without graduated seniors Paiton Acord, Dee Diggs, Neaveh Mitchell, CJ Stiles, and Kristen Klein, the Lady Vikings are basically starting from scratch this year.
“We only return two players with significant varsity level playing time,” noted head coach Keri Nichols. “Our success will depend on our young players stepping up and producing at the varsity level.”
Acord was named First-Team All-District, All-Conference, All-State, and was named Conference Player of the Year, while Diggs was named First-Team All-District and received Honorable Mention in All-Conference. The losses span the floor with two centers, two guards, and a forward all graduating.
“Paiton was a point guard who had the ability to play any position on the floor, including back to the basket post,” said Nichols, who enters her 12th year as the head coach at Parkview this season. “Dee had a primary role of rebounding and playing post defense. Nevaeh was a strong rebounding guard who was an excellent defensive player. CJ really protected the middle of the court for us. Kristen was a small forward who took it to the hole strong.”
With so many losses to graduation, the Lady Vikings have plenty of holes to fill. Early season practices will be key in finding candidates to replace the production left by last year’s graduating class. Several impact options for Nichols and her staff include Kamari Ouck, Mikeala Whalen, and Vanessa Schuh. Ouck enters her junior season after averaging 8.5 points and 5.2 rebounds last year as a sophomore. Whalen is also a junior. She averaged double-figures last winter, scoring 12 points a night and contributing 5.2 rebounds per game. Schuh is a senior and will be counted on to provide leadership to a youthful Parkview roster.
“Kamari is a forward/guard who can take the ball off the dribble to the rim,” Nichols added. “Mikeala is a back-up point guard who creates a lot of offense off of her defense. Vanessa is a strong spot shooting guard who may be able to help break zones.”
Nichols has high expectations for her players and is counting on her juniors for leadership. “We will really need Ouck and Whalen to become court leaders for our young kids,” she noted.
The Lady Vikings know they have a long road ahead to get back to competing in districts. Rivalry games with city foes like Glendale, Kickapoo, Hillcrest, and Central should provide a high-level of competition that can prepare Parkview for district contests.
“I feel like anytime we play another city school it is a rivalry,” Nichols stated. “We play a very tough schedule in order to get ready for districts.”
Last year, Parkview finished 13-12 overall and 5-4 in conference play. They struggled offensively, shooting just 43 percent from the field, 56 percent from the free throw line, and 29 percent from the 3-point line. One strength for the Lady Vikings last year was its defense, forcing an average of 19 turnovers per game.