By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
It’s hard enough to coach one team to a 20-win season – but, two?!
Well, that’s what Weaubleau basketball coach Charley Dryer did during the 2018-2019 season.
In addition to leading the Weaubleau boys’ team to a 20-9 record last year, Dryer also led the Lady Tigers to a 24-6 overall record, a 5-2 Polk County League mark, a Class 1 District 7 championship and sectional victory, before falling in the quarterfinals to Lakeland 48-45.
“We had a good season last year winning 24 games and coming four points away from advancing to the final four,” said Dryer, who has a 54-28 record with the girls’ program. “We will have a target this year, and I’m anxious to see how we will prepare every day, and how we focus to play every game knowing the other team had prepared for us as their target.”
Dryer, who is in his fourth year at the helm of the Lady Tigers’ program, enters his third season coaching both squads.
For the girls’ team, only three players were lost to graduation from last year’s district champion.
Danni Stewart, a forward, “will be missed in a number of ways,” Dryer said. “She was team captain for two years, where she took the role very serious and made a huge impact on the girls. She was a strong, physical post player that could defend and score in the low post as well as stepping out and hitting jumpers. She was also a great rebounder.”
Anna Ginnings, a guard, “gave us a consistent presence beyond the arc as she hit 52 3s last year. She also gave us another solid defender and a player with a good basketball IQ.”
Kierra Gannaway, a forward, was “a strong physical player who could always be relied upon to enter the game and give us a strong post presence. She was a great leader for our second string in practice and by doing so, she did a lot of things behind the scenes to make our team be successful.”
Weaubleau has a strong trio of seniors returning to vie for another district title – Makayla Hostettler, Kari Reed and Liz Stewart – and several more returning players to contribute this season.
• Makayla Hostettler, 5-foot-8, averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals per game last season. She earned all-state, all-district and first-team all-conference honors. “She led us in a lot of statistical areas last season,” Dryer said. “I expect her to have another solid year. She is a well-rounded offensive player who can play positions 1-5, but probably her best attribute is her defense where she can also guard 1-5.”
• Kari Reed, 5-11, averaged 9 PPG, 6 RPG, 1 APG and 1 SPG, and was an all-district selection. “Kari has shown drastic improvement every season and I expect her to demonstrate that again this year. She will move to the primary post position with her size and athleticism, and I believe she will have a major impact.”
• Liz Stewart, a 5-4 point guard, averaged 3.5 PPG, 3 RPG, 4 APG and 2 SPG. “There will not be a harder worker or a more determined player on the floor. She has tremendous speed and is strong for her size. Anything she can provide offensively is just a plus, but she is capable of hitting the jumper or attacking the basket.”
• Jenna Daggett, a 5-7 junior, averaged 9.5 PPG, 4 RPG, 3 APG and 1 SPG. She was an all-district and second-team all-conference pick. “Jenna is possibly one of the best scorers in the area. She finds a way to get to the basket. Last year, she started hitting the 3 and was able to score in the post, so we were able to use her in multiple ways. Although she is a scorer, she is good at finding the open person.”
• Haleigh Dryer, a 5-7 junior, has been hit hard by injuries the past two seasons. “If she can stay healthy, I can see her having a really solid year. She has played a lot of basketball, and she typically finds a way to get something done that her team needs.”
• Celena Lambeth, 5-4 junior. “Celena is an athletic strong guard, and is doing a great job developing into a point guard. She has a nice touch on her jump shot especially from 3. She will handle the ball for us some this year, but I expect her biggest contribution this season will be her shooting.”
• Emma Case, 5-3 sophomore. “Emma had a very good summer. I expect her contribution to continue to increase as her confidence grows. She has become a consistent shooter.”
• Katie Ginnings, 5-11 sophomore. “I thought Katie had a good freshman season. She is our tallest player and one of the tallest in the area. She also has speed and athleticism to go with the size. The sky is the limit for her and her abilities.”
• Grayce Hostettler, 5-9 sophomore. “Grayce is another player that had a really good summer. She progressed a little quicker than I expected to be honest. She has size and is one of our strongest girls.”
• Jadyn Lower, 5-5 sophomore. “Jadyn is another player who works hard and will do whatever is asked. She has spent time working on her outside shot.”
“We have a lot of depth that will allow us to have some very competitive practices,” Dryer said. “We have several players capable of putting up numbers. Some of these players have limited experience at the varsity level, but I still think they are more than capable of huge production this season.
“We will be able to rotate in several players in a game, which hopefully allows for us to play a fast-paced game like we have been playing.”
Another player Dryer is excited about is 5-3 sophomore Brynn Mitchell.
“Brynn is an athletic guard who is a hard worker and a very solid defender,” Dryer said. “She was developing her shot, and if it continues to develop, she has the potential to play some big roles in her high school career.”
Dryer also welcomes transfer Desani Williams, a 5-4 senior point guard.
Weaubleau will host a jamboree with Midway, Osceola and Montrose on Nov. 19, and opens the regular season at home against Macks Creek on Nov. 22.
“Our schedule picks up very early in the season on the first possible night against Macks Creek,” Dryer said. “It doesn’t get any easier as next we go on the road to Climax Springs, then the Lockwood Tournament.
“It should be an exciting year with a lot of good basketball, but we have a lot of work to do to be able to compete night in and night out. I am confident these guys can, and will, do it.”