The Hickman girls’ basketball team will need some young players to mature quickly if it is to return to the state title game.
The Kewpies lost all five starters from a team that fell to St. Joseph’s Academy 56-44 in the Class 5 state championship last season.
Their quest for a sixth straight state quarterfinal appearance began with the Purple and Gold game Thursday night.
Sophomore Lauren Nolke made four 3-pointers and led all scorers with 16 points as the Purple outscored the Gold 34-11.
Coach Tonya Mirts said she looks for Nolke, a 5-foot-10 guard and Megan McCabe, Hickman’s lone senior, to lead the Kewpies.
“I think that’s obvious,” she said. “Who did you see tonight that really emerged? Lauren Nolke and Megan McCabe.”
McCabe scored all eight of her points in the first of two eight-minute quarters in which the varsity scrimmaged. Nolke had 11 in the first quarter, as the Purple jumped out to a 23-4 lead. The Gold team, led by Jenny Keener’s four points, was more competitive in the next quarter.
Mirts said what she saw from her new team leaders pleased her.
“They were tremendous,” she said. “Anytime you can get 19 points in a quarter, that’s a lot, and it’s very impressive.”
McCabe, a 5-9 guard, and junior Sade’ Aaron are the only returning Kewpies who played in March’s state championship game.
McCabe has come up big for the Kewpies before. She hit a 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation to tie Pembroke Hill in the championship game of last year’s Blue Springs South Tournament, a game the Kewpies won in overtime.
Despite their youth, Mirts said she thinks the Kewpies can live up to last season’s 30-2 record.
“I think our expectations aren’t any different,” she said. “Our goals have always been to get the most out of our team and be the best basketball team we can be.
“We have tremendous athleticism, but we do have some inexperience. I think with whom we’re playing against, our weaknesses will be displayed and we’ll be able to work on them.”
Hickman tips off the season at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The Kewpies will host Notre Dame De Sion, a team that reached the Class 5 quarterfinals last season.
The Kewpies have reached the state final four in three of the past five seasons, but are still seeking a state title. They reached the title game in 2002 but lost to Lee’s Summit North, 55-50.