ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The adage “Speed kills” may be true for highway safety, but for Peabody-Burns girls’ basketball coach Darren Schroeder, speed is a weapon he hopes will shoot his Warriors to the top of the Heart of America League.
“The possibility of having a quick lineup could result in some transition opportunities,” he said. “We would like to increase tempo and stretch the game to full-court as much as possible.”
Beginning his third season with the Warriors, Schroeder has an overall record of 23-20.
Playing primarily underclassmen last year, the Warriors finished with a 7-14 record, including a 2-8 league mark.
Schroeder hopes last year’s experience will transform his youngsters into seasoned veterans.
Key to the team is junior Jessi Hilliard (5-foot, 6-inch), a second-team all-league selection and honorable-mention all-state pick. Hilliard averaged 14.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 1.5 assists.
“(Jessi) should give the team guidance and stability and provide the necessary leadership,” Schroeder said.
Peabody-Burns’s other returning starter is senior Traci Windsor (5-6), who contributed 4.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1 steal per outing.
“Traci will be a great leader and add a strong perimeter game,” Schroeder said.
Other returning players who will be counted on to add quality depth are junior Elaina Newell (5-6), who averaged 6.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, one steal and one assist, and sophomore Jessica Gillet (5-7), who contributed 1.7 rebounds and 1 point.
Schroeder said several athletes will need to step forward: Ashley Elliott (5-4, senior), Laura Hoffman (5-5, junior), Racquel Castillo (5-3, junior), Becky Morris (5-6, sophomore), Tabitha O’Neal (5-7, sophomore) and Stephanie Rempel (5-7, freshman).
As was the case last season, Peabody-Burns will be somewhat vertically challenged with no players taller than 5-7 expected to contribute to the varsity.
But Schroeder said he isn’t worried.
“Playing without height should not be an adjustment this season due to playing the same style last year,” he said. “I feel strongly about the core group of returning players this season.”
With Little River, Moundridge and Berean Academy expected to vie for the HOA title, Schroeder knows his team will have to play well together.
“We are definitely going to have to be able to defend and guard, rebound and play extremely unselfish,” he said. “I believe that as the season progresses, the players will become comfortable in their roles and we will improve on a daily basis.”