2021-22 Winter Preview: New Covenant Girls Basketball

By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

The New Covenant Academy Lady Warriors will be led by a new coach this season, and both coach and players are still getting to know each other.

Dusty Killingsworth, who led the Mount Vernon girls to back-to-back district titles in 2017 and 2018, had stepped away from coaching but continued to teach at Mount Vernon. He accepted the NCA job late, so there wasn’t the opportunity for any offseason workouts.

“I was a late hire, so even meeting the team, trying to get to know them has been a challenge,” Killingsworth said. “So, we are entering this season at a disadvantage, which is OK because I know what NCA is about, and they will accept the challenge.”

The Lady Warriors finished with a 14-9 overall record last season and were 4-1 in the Mark Twain Conference, good for second place.

They will have to find a way to replace about 80 percent of last season’s scoring with the graduation of Izzy Rohlfing and Lillie Bodeen.

Rohlfing averaged 17.8 points, 13.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game last season. She earned all-district and all-conference first-team honors and is now playing at Southwest Baptist University.

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Bodeen added 13.7 ppg, 3 rpg and 2.2 steals per game and was named to the all-conference second team.

“They did a lot for NCA and will be greatly missed on and off the floor,” Killingsworth said.

Returning for the Lady Warriors this season are Alexis Ruff (3.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Claudia Cannafax (3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Lily Auer (5.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and Meghan Auer (.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg).

“All (of the returnees) will be returning letterwinners and will be expected to bring the leadership and work ethic they are known for,” Killingsworth said.

Killingsworth also said there will be a lot of growth for the Lady Warriors this season.

“Coach (David) Anderlik did a great job adding to the program and building a legacy for the young ladies,” Killingsworth said. “What I love about NCA is that they want to compete and do their very best on and off the floor in all aspects of their lives, not just basketball.

“So, the ability to learn what my expectations will be and what I can expect and learn from them will be ongoing. There will obviously be a learning curve for all of us and that will lead to some up-and-down play. But again, the challenges we face will only help build future character in the classroom, our program and most importantly their daily lives.”

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New Covenant will participate in a jamboree at Spokane on Nov. 16 before opening the season at home against Sarcoxie on Nov. 19.

But Killingsworth isn’t worried about the unknowns heading into the season.

“We could look at it as a negative, but ultimately it can be a positive as there won’t be a preconceived idea of what the team should be,” Killingsworth said. “Instead, we will look at building on the strengths we see every day in practice. There will be some nervous times, but exciting times as well because of the challenges.”

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