2021-22 Winter Preview: Forsyth Girls Basketball

By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Having to replace experience and production is a tall task and one that the Forsyth Lady Panthers will face this season.

The Lady Panthers lost several games to COVID, injuries, weather and other scheduling issues, but finished the 2020-21 season with a 15-7 overall record and 2-3 in the Mid-Lakes Conference.

“Every time we would gain momentum, we would lose someone and have to make adjustments,” said head coach Mandy Rogers. “Like others, we had so many distractions with quarantines, illnesses and injuries. We sat out the month of December right after the Blue Eye tournament, but felt we were playing really well by the end of January. We had won back-to-back tournaments but then were off another two weeks with weather and then fought injuries and such at the end of the year.

“We were able to make it to another district championship game and lost to a good Ava squad. We lost six terrific seniors and lost five the year before, so a lot of upperclassmen, leadership, and stats have left our program the last two years.”

Those players lost to graduation included Scarlett Texeira, Triniti Sullenger, Katrina Drake, Meadow Mardis, Keelei Plummer and Morgan Blom.

• Scarlett Texeira – Averaged 14 points, 9 rebounds, 4.2 blocks per game. A four-year starter who was a four-time all-conference and three-time all-district selection. “Great post player; was a double-digit scorer and rebounder for us as well as a great shot-blocker,” Rogers said. “She battled a few injuries through last year, but we will miss her length and ability around the basket on both ends of the floor.”
• Triniti Sullenger – Averaged 8 ppg, 2.1 apg, 3 spg; earned all-conference honors. “Triniti was our starting point guard for the last two years. She also was a great 3-point shooter and passer. Was also a good defender and team leader.”
• Katrina Drake – Averaged 5.2 ppg, 5.6 apg, 3.8 spg. “Katrina was our defensive leader, but improved dramatically offensively, leading our team in 3-point percentage, shooting 48 percent. Was also a tremendous passer that led our team in assists and steals.”
• Meadow Mardis – Averaged 5 ppg, 4 rpg, shot 55 percent from the field. “Was a great defender and rebounder for us. Another player that fought a lot of injuries last year, but we will miss her size and strength inside.”
• Keelei Plummer and Morgan Blom – “Both were good leaders for us on and off the floor. They brought some intangibles to our team as well as added to our depth.”

The Lady Panthers have several players returning but will still field a fairly young lineup.

“We are hoping to build on some of the success that we have had in the last several years, however, we understand this is a new year and we are replacing a lot of kids that had important roles for us in recent years,” Rogers said. “We have some returners, but don’t have a lot of experience at the varsity level. We are still very young in spots and kids will be taking on a different role than maybe in years past. We will have to learn on the fly and, hopefully, kids can adjust to the speed and physicality of varsity play.”

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• Savannah Koen, 5-foot-8 sophomore – Averaged 7.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 2 spg; earned all-conference honorable mention honors. “Savannah is a very talented young player that can score in a variety of ways. She is a good ballhandler, slasher, and keeps improving as an outside shooter and defender. She has a high basketball IQ and will be asked to take on a bigger role this season on both ends of the floor and pick up a lot of scoring and rebounding and ballhandling lost to graduation.”
• Emma Barrickman, 5-6 senior – Averaged 6.9 ppg, 2 rpg, 1 apg, 2.8 spg. “Emma came to us at semester of last season and had an immediate impact. She has a lot of natural ability and can change the game in a lot of ways, offensively and defensively. Attacks the basket well and is good in transition. Still learning the system but gets better and better as she gains confidence.”
• Annabelle Barrickman, 5-9 sophomore – Averaged 5.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1 apg, 1.8 spg. “Annabelle will be asked to pick up more of a leadership role inside for us as a post player. She is very athletic and quick for her size. She gets in the passing lanes well, is very aggressive, has good footwork and good hands around the rim and plays hard.”
• Landry Stuart, 5-5 senior – Averaged 3.7 ppg, 1.1 ppg, 1.2 apg, .9 spg. “Landry is a good shooter that can spot up on the arc in the half-court or transition. She is also a good passer that works hard defensively and is very smart. She will help take on some of the ballhandling duties lost to graduation.”
• McKenzie Calhoun, 5-9 junior – “Very fast and athletic. Can play a variety of positions for us. Will create havoc on the defensive end. Hard worker and very coachable. Will look for her to play a lot of minutes this season at the varsity level.”
• Lindsey Essary, 6-0 sophomore – “Will replace a lot of size lost to graduation; has so much potential and has the ability to use her size to finish well around the basket. Also has a nice touch to her short jumper and is a hard matchup for other teams to guard.”
• Hannah Tilley, 5-6 junior – “Much-improved player, is very coachable, good outside shooter that keeps improving her range and ballhandling abilities. She can add depth to our guard play and be an outside threat.”

A few newcomers who could make an impact this season include juniors Macy Sanders and Emily Blevins.

• Macy Sanders, 5-9 junior – “Macy brings a lot of athleticism and length to our team,” Rogers said. “She is quick and works well around the basket with a nice touch on her outside jumper. She is physical inside and will help replace a lot of rebounds and scoring from last year’s graduating class.”
• Emmy Blevins, 5-6, junior – “Emmy has battled injuries the last two seasons but comes in healthier this year. She had a very promising finish to her JV season last year and is capable of scoring the ball in a variety of ways. She could be one of our better outside threats but also has good moves to the basket and can finish well. Hoping she can stay healthy; could be a difference-maker.”

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Forsyth will participate in a jamboree at Crane with East Newton and Pierce City on Nov. 16 before opening the regular season on the road at Seymour on Nov. 22.

“Obviously, COVID or injuries or illness can change your team at any time,” Rogers said. “But also, we have a tough conference and nonconference schedule. Wins may be tough at times, but if we can learn from them, we will be better in the long run.”

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