PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
PRESEASON BIG 8 CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Brenlee McPherson, Carl Junction
PRESEASON 1ST-TEAM ALL-BIG 8 CONFERENCE
Kourtney Brewster, East Newton—Brewster plays much bigger than her 5’9” height in the post. The senior is a defensive stopper and should increase her scoring this year. She is the anchor of this East Newton squad and would love nothing better than a Big 8 championship.
Coley Ickes, McDonald County—Ickes can run a show and knows how to take charge, whether it’s on the softball field or on the basketball court. And the 5’6” senior point guard delivers, posting a 12 point, 3.1 rebound, 3.3 assist, 2.3 steal stat line last year. Her speed and smarts give opposing guards fits.
Brenlee McPherson, Carl Junction—The reigning queen of Big 8 hoops should have another big year as a senior. McPherson’s versatility at six-foot makes her a great weapon. At 12.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.4 steals per game, McPherson is a huge part of the Lady Bulldogs’ hunt for a Big 8 title.
Ryan O'Sullivan, Lamar—Another great point guard in the Big 8, the 5’7” senior was a 1st-Team All-Conference pick last year after registering 12 points, four rebounds, and two assists per game. She can do a little bit of everything, including hitting the three.
Rachel Parker, Aurora—After being a 1st-Team All-Conference pick last year as a junior, the 5’9” Parker will take on an even bigger role this season with the departure of three starters. That means her 12.8 points per game average should go up as the Lady Houns look to defend their conference title.
PRESEASON 2ND-TEAM ALL-BIG 8 CONFERENCE
Reaghan Blisard, Cassville—Blisard is returning from her second ACL injury, but the 5’9” senior shouldn’t miss a beat. Blisard makes a difference on the court, going for 10.5 points and seven rebounds a game and giving leadership to a young Cassville squad.
MacKenzie Farmer, Mt. Vernon—KiKi is back for her senior year after being sidelined most of last season. A great leader for the Lady Mountaineers, Farmer is looking to get back to her averages of 18 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game, and get Mt. Vernon back in the midst of the Big 8 race.
Emily Parker, Aurora—Could easily make the jump to the first team this year. And if she does, Aurora could easily repeat as conference champs. The six-foot sophomore can do it all with both athleticism and intelligence on the court and averaged 11.5 points per game last year.
Preslea Reece, McDonald County—The six-footer is a big reason (no pun intended) that the Lady Mustangs are contenders in their first year. Not only did Reece have averages of 13 points and 6.4 rebounds last year, she’s versatile enough to play all five positions.
Lindsey Showalter, Carl Junction—The Robin to McPherson’s Batman, the six-foot junior’s impact goes beyond her stats (13.3 ppg, 5.6 reb). Showalter is a very smart player on the court and uses her height and athleticism to be a defensive disruptor.
PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Koty Cooper, East Newton—Cooper is a versatile talent who can hit the three, be a force inside, rebound, and do a little of everything. The sophomore should continue to improve her averages of 7.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, two assists, and 1.6 steals per game.
Mirana Heath, Seneca—Seneca’s only returning All-Conference player, the 5’5” senior will have to increase her 10 points per game average with the graduation of the team’s two top players.
Shania Siegrist, Aurora—A 5’7” senior, Siegrist is a good ball handler, can slash to the basket, and can finish, scoring 9.3 points per game last year in earning an honorable mention All-Conference nod.
(18) Mt. Vernon at McDonald County—An early season matchup of two title contenders that will leave one of them playing catch up. The MacKenzie Farmer/Coley Ickes head-to-head battle should be fantastic, as well.
(18) Republic at Carl Junction—Carl Junction takes on some of its future COC competition in the constantly tough Lady Tigers. Republic is just one of a number of big names the Lady Bulldogs will test themselves with this season.
(26-31) Pink & White Tournament—The Pink & White has seen some excellent Big 8 teams over the years. Aurora, Mt. Vernon, and Carl Junction represent the conference this year. Last season, the Lady Bulldogs went 3-1 to take the consolation bracket, losing only to tournament runner-up Nixa in the first round.
(8) Carl Junction at Webb City—Coach Brad Shorter returns to face the team he took to the Final Four four times and won a state title with. Huge district seeding ramifications here, as well as a rivalry that will carry over to the
COC in years to come.
(19-22) 22nd-Annual Gary Keeling Memorial Lady Liberator Tournament—Aurora participates in a great mid-season girls tournament. They join a field that includes defending champion Ash Grove, Buffalo, Hillcrest,
Camdenton, and host Bolivar, which is capable of winning the whole thing.
(24) Carl Junction vs Lutheran South—Part of The Scoreboard Guy Shootout at the O’Reilly Family Events Center at Drury, Lutheran South is a young team that went 17-9 last year while playing a strong schedule. Should be a good test for the Lady Bulldogs.
(26) Purdy at East Newton—The Lady Eagles return everyone from last year’s Ozark 7 champions and bring some of the best guard play in small school ball in the Ozarks. The Lady Eagles’ speed will make this a great matchup.
(9) Aurora at Mt. Vernon—Look at who’s playing. Aurora vs Mt. Vernon in checkers is intense. Add in that both are contenders for the conference championship and it’s must watch basketball defined.
(9) East Newton at McDonald County—If you like defensive basketball, this is your game of the year. Both squads can flat put the clamps down. A great matchup of point guards and versatile forwards, this could be the signature game in the POY campaign of the Patriots’ Kourtney Brewster.
(12) Aurora at Carl Junction—Will defending champion Aurora hang onto the title, or will the Lady Bulldogs ascend to the top of the heap? The possible future POY Emily Parker will try to one-up current POY Brenlee McPherson.
(16) Carl Junction at East Newton—The top two contenders square off late in the season with possibly the conference championship on the line. This game cost Carl Junction a share of the title last season. The Lady Bulldogs won’t want to repeat that mistake.
(26) Webb City at Aurora—After the grind of the Big 8 conference season, why not rest up for districts? New Aurora head coach Jim Moore said ‘NO WAY!’ and scheduled the perennially tough Lady Cardinals. The Lady Houns will have one last chance to prepare for a district containing Hillcrest and West Plains.