New player emerges in Hickman girls basketball team

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | 9:56 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Two players, Aqua Corpening and Jade Holly, usually stand out in the box scores of Hickman girls basketball games, but another player is starting to shine for the Kewpies.

For the past two games, Claire Ortbals has led the Kewpies in scoring and has found a comfortable spot on the court behind the 3-point line.

The Kewpies rely heavily on a few players, allowing the rest of the team to play off of them.

“We have two highlight players that we feature a lot, and that’s Jade Holly and Aqua Corpening,” Hickman coach Tonya Mirts said. “But what you need, you need the other seven.”

Mirts has noticed Ortbals finding her spots as opponents key in on Corpening and Holly.

“I just think teams are concentrating more on Aqua and Jade, and Claire is very comfortable at shooting the three ball — and she’s been very successful at it,” Mirts said.

Ortbals has also been the benefactor of a team sharing the ball.

“We’ve really been doing a better job at moving the ball around and finding the open man,” Mirts said.

The Kewpies will need Ortbals' outside shooting against their next opponent, Jefferson City, along with some help rebounding the ball — a task that is difficult for the Kewpies because of their small size.

“We are a short team,” Mirts said. “We have really made a concerted effort to rebound, and we’re going to need to rebound well.”

The Kewpies will travel to Jefferson City on Wednesday to take on the Jays in a semifinal matchup in the Class 5, District 9 tournament. The Kewpies have won two close games over the Jays this season. The Kewpies beat the Jays 52-49 on Dec. 21 in Columbia, and then won 47-46 on Feb. 8 in Jefferson City.

Asked if she was worried about playing Jefferson City in their building, Mirts sounded relieved. 

“Our court is so tiny, it’s actually kind of nice playing on a bigger court,” Mirts said. “Jeff City is not a foreign court to us; I mean, it's a place we play ever year.”

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