It is a new season, but Hickman still looks the same.
The Kewpies return five starters from last season’s state girls basketball quarterfinalists. Hickman compiled a 26-3 record before losing to Kickapoo 55-42 on March 8 in Sedalia, Mo. The Kewpies averaged 64.2 points in the regular season.
At this season’s first practice Monday, an intense 3-hour workout, Kewpies coach Tonya Mirts said she expects more of the same.
“We’ve basically got the same kids back,” Mirts said. “They have their strengths and they’re going to play to their strengths, so you’re going to see a similar kind of basketball from us.”
Seniors Amy Bolerjack and Kaela Rorvig will lead the Kewpies this season. Bolerjack was a first-team All-State selection and the team’s leading scorer last season, averaging 17.7 points and totaling 532, the second most in school history. Rorvig, a second-team All-State selection, averaged 15.2 points and Mirts said she was Hickman’s top defender.
Lauren Harris, Stephanie Burger and Jodi Bolerjack round out the list of returning starters.
“We’re a very veteran team,” Mirts said. “I expect to get a lot from our seniors. We have a tremendous amount of depth.”
Mirts has high expectations.
“The good teams always set their goals high,” Mirts said. “Now we have to work hard to attain them.”
Last season, the Women’s Intersport Network for Columbia (WIN) honored Mirts with the Female Coach of the Year award. Mirts has led Hickman to three straight berths in the state final four.
— Sarah Korsch
ROCK BRIDGE BOYS’ BASKETBALL: Jim Scanlon is a familiar face at Rock Bridge. After all, he coached there from 1984-1999. Now, after a four-year hiatus, he will be back at courtside this winter.
Scanlon said he enjoyed his time away and even followed the Bruins, but he wasn’t desperate to be back with the program.
“I watched them,” he said. “But I knew the next morning they had to get up on a Saturday morning, and practice the next week after a loss, and I know how tough that is. I didn’t miss going through that because it was kind of agony.”
Nevertheless, Rock Bridge rehired Scanlon, who has a 331-121 record for the Bruins, on April 28.
The Bruins went 47-53 during Scanlon’s four-year absence, including a 9-15 finish this past season. Scanlon, though, said he doesn’t know if he will run the team much differently then the past coach, Kevin Schroeder.
“I don’t think it’ll differ much, maybe just a different attitude, a fresh attitude,” Scanlon said.
Scanlon, who resigned in 1999 when parents complained about his confrontational style of coaching, said players should expect the same old coach Scanlon.
“I know one thing in coaching, you have to be yourself,” he said. “And I’m vocal, I’m aggressive, I love to win. I love the challenge of trying to win even if we’re underdogs.”
Although Scanlon might be excited to be back at the helm, he said he was not sure what to expect as practice began Monday. Only one thing seems certain: the Bruins have some growing up to do.
“We’re a very inexperienced team,” he said. “We’re just gonna have to learn, kind of on-the-job training.”
Rock Bridge returns only three seniors from last season’s team and only Rob Adams, a 6-foot-3 guard-forward, was a consistent starter. He scored seven points per game during the regular season.
Adams will be a leader to the younger players, but he said he expects plenty of help.
“As far as all the weight on my shoulders,” he said.,“it won’t be like that.”
The Bruins need to find a way to fill the void senior Adam Guy has left. How they will make up for his 17.5 points per game remains to be seen.
Adams said he expects juniors Demond Thorpe and Terrell Turner to contribute, but Scanlon said he still doesn’t know what his lineup will look like.
“I think we’ve got people who can fill spots,” he said. “We’ve just got to do it quick and make them good quick.”
— Dan Smith
DOUGLASS BOYS’ BASKETBALL: Few coaches face as many challenges as Douglass coach Lynn Allen and his assistant Scotty Williams.
Dedication, teamwork and good behavior in the classroom are as vital to the Bulldogs’ success as learning the fundamentals of basketball, Allen said.
He said seniors Andre Burgess, the team’s leading scorer last season, and Anthony Johnson have the talent to play in college, but neither are being heavily recruited because of his team’s overall lack of dedication.
Douglass has struggled with academic eligibility and had few come out for the team since resuming its program in 1997. The Bulldogs had only seven players last season, and they have eight eligible players for the first semester of this season. Williams said they hope to have 11 or 12 players in the second semester, but incorporating new players in the middle of the season isn’t easy.
“It’s a major adjustment,” Williams said. “Sometimes it destroys the team chemistry we had first semester by adding those two or three other players.”
Last season, Douglass primarily played a 2-3 zone defense to keep its players fresh and out of foul trouble. Williams said the Bulldogs will play a lot of zone this year, but he and Allen haven’t decided what type of zone will be most effective for this year’s team.
Despite facing significant obstacles, the Bulldogs were 21-5 in 2001-02, and they went 13-9 last season in the school’s first year in Class 2A.
“Back in 1A, some of the teams had seven or eight players like we did, but now in 2A, we play teams with 12 or 15 players,” Williams said
— John Miller
ROCK BRIDGE WRESTLING: As the football season comes to a close, sophomore Brady Wilson is turning in his helmet for wrestling headgear.
Wilson returns to Rock Bridge wrestling after playing wide receiver and outside linebacker for the Bruins’ junior varsity football team. He wrestled at 125 pounds behind Dustin Overfelt last season. This season, Wilson moved to the 135-pound division and said he expects that weight class to be competitive. He said he is more confident than last season and has no doubt he can compete in the state tournament.
“I wrestled a few varsity matches last year, and it cost me,” Wilson said. “It’s 0-0 when you step on the mat. You beat yourself when you are thinking this guy is a senior or he is ranked.”
The first day of wrestling practice was Monday. Assistant coach Brook Harlan said the team expects as many as 10 more football players to trickle into the Rock Bridge wrestling room after football season ends this week. He estimates that 10-15 new wrestlers and 20 returning wrestlers participated in the first practice.
The coaches went over the rules and basic moves with the new wrestlers, while the returning wrestlers practiced drills. Returning seniors Chris Hardesty, Will Martin and Erin Slate qualified for the sectional tournament in February. Harlan said he expects these wrestlers to build on last season’s success.
The Bruins first match is Dec. 2 against Boonville at Rock Bridge.
ROCK BRIDGE AND HICKMAN SWIMMING: John Hamilton, who coaches the Bruins and Kewpies swim teams, said Monday’s first practice at Hickman displayed a lot of potential.
“We’re pretty inexperienced with a lot of new faces,” Hamilton said. “We’re going to have to build around a few key upperclassmen.”
Junior Carly Sullivan returns for Rock Bridge in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle. Sullivan placed fifth in both events at the state championship last year, helping the Bruins earn 19th in the 67-team competition.
“I think Rock Bridge has a lot of potential,” Hamilton said. “We have a lot of talent that we’ll have to use to bring the team around.”
Diver Nik Roetemeyer and swimmer Greg Longo also return for the Bruins. Both competed at the state meet last year.
“We’ll kind of use (Roetemeyer’s and Longo’s) leadership and the fact that they’ve been on the team for four years to try to develop a team,” Hamilton said.
The Kewpies look to rebuild after graduating several seniors. Junior Chelsea Laun, who earned honorable mention All-State honors last year, returns in the 200-yard medley relay. Senior Jacob Adams also competed at the state meet in the 200-yard freestyle and 50-yard freestyle.
“It’s a young team, and we’ll just have to rely on our seniors to bring them along and set the example,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said that the athletes from both schools work well together.
“We always have good practices, but we’re all friends,” Hamilton said. “They encourage each other to improve. There isn’t this rivalry stuff at all.”
The teams’ first meet, the Purple, Green and Gold scrimmage, is set for March 8 at Hickman.
— Emily Griffeth