2022-23 Winter Preview: Sparta Girls Basketball

By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Last season continued a successful trend for Sparta basketball.

The 19-7 Trojans finished a third-straight season with 19 victories, falling to Strafford in the Class 3 District 11 championship.

“We have lost to Strafford in districts two years in a row, once in the championship game and once in the semifinals, both by single digits,” Loveland said. “We are hoping with the last few years of big game experience is going to be able to put us over the hump and we hope to once again compete for a district championship.”

Prior to Sparta’s district quest, Loveland will need to find replacements for graduate and all-state selection Shelby McMurry.

“We graduated our leading scorer from last season, Shelby McMurry,” head coach Josh Loveland said. “She was a very versatile player and really quick off the dribble. We also graduated Aysha Fulton who was a good defender and a good leader.”

A talented all-conference trio is set to lead the Trojans this season in Megan Brown, Brooklyn Roller and Brynn Holt.

Brown, a 5-foot-8 guard, averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals last season and received all-district honors, as well.

“Megan Brown is one of the most versatile players I have ever coached,” Loveland said. “She can guard post players, she can guard someone smaller than her and she rebounds well, sees the floor really well, she can handle the ball pretty well. She is just an all-around good basketball player.”

Roller, a 5-foot-6 guard, averaged 6 points and 3 rebounds.

“Brooklyn Roller takes on a tough assignment every night defensively,” Loveland said. “She always guards the other team’s best player, and she is an impact maker on offense too. Every night she sets the tone for us as a team on the defensive end of the floor.”

CLICK HERE FOR LINKS TO ALL OF THE WINTER PREVIEWS

Holt, a 5-foot-8 guard, posted 8 points, rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals per game.

Two more seniors round out the class in 5-foot-6 Ashlyn Roller (3 ppg) and 5-foot-11 Natalie Wilks.

Wilks sat out last season after averaging 10.5 points and 6 rebounds per contest as a sophomore.

Loveland expects her to provide an immediate boost to the roster.

“We are excited to have Natalie back this year and anxious to see how she does,” Loveland said. “She had a good summer, and we are looking forward to this season.”

A trio of juniors also return for the Trojans in 5-foot-9 Amree Youngmon (8 ppg, 4 rpg), 5-foot-7 Alivia Loveland (3 ppg) and 5-foot-4 Mya Fulton (2 ppg).

Following an injury last season, sophomore Layne Forgey is expected to return to the team around Christmas and compete for varsity minutes, as well.

With an experienced, senior-led roster, Loveland believes Sparta will once again be in the hunt for postseason success.

“I am excited about this upcoming season,” Loveland said. “I think we have a really good group of veteran players and some good young kids who will compete every day for playing time and we will again look to have a very competitive season and make a strong push this year in February.”

Sparta will once again rely on Loveland’s pressure-oriented system to create chaos and force pacing.

“We like to control the pace of games,” Loveland said. “We like to speed teams up, take them out of any kind of half-court offense and try to force them to just have to make plays instead of running sets or offense. We put a big emphasis on pressuring the basketball and quickly pushing the ball on offense in transition.”

Loveland also feels Sparta’s challenging Southwest Central League and district schedule will have the Trojans well-prepared for the rigors of postseason play.

“The SWCL is always very competitive,” Loveland said. “In the last ten years, it has had a few state champions and many final four teams that came from the SWCL so conference play is never easy.”

Following a Nov. 16 jamboree at Nixa, Sparta will tip off its season Nov. 28 at Purdy.

Related Posts

Loading...