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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Solid nucleus returns for Lady 'Dogs

Sunday, November 21, 2004

SIKESTON - The Sikeston girls basketball team may not have a senior on the roster, but they definitely aren't short on experience.

With three junior starters returning, head coach Lee Brooks is hoping they can lead a young group to another winning season after last year's 14-13 ledger.

"We're still very young -- we lost a couple seniors, but I've got five juniors back and we're just going to try to have some fun and try to get better as a team," said Brooks. "The nucleus of our team is back even though they are juniors."

Returning are junior guards Allison Blurton and Paige Silverthorn and 5-foot-10 post Whitney McCray.

All three led the team at times last season and Brooks is hoping for the same this year.

"I'm looking for those three to lead the team this year," said Brooks. "There's really no replacement for Mia Welch, but Whitney McCray is going to be very strong inside. I guarantee you every night Allison Blurton will show up to play. I just look forward to watching these kids play."

Junior Robyn Morris and sophomore Latoya Gipson will fill out the starting lineup. Gipson provides extra side in the paint at 5-10 while Morris is a 5-8 forward.

"Gipson is a strong kid and she's getting better every day," said Brooks. "When I watch her play I forget she's a sophomore. She gets frustrated at times. She is so gifted. She is getting taller and stronger. She can put the ball on the floor and take anybody to the basket. Last year Morris didn't show up as much as she should have, but I really believe she's going to be one of our mainstays this year."

Brooks will look to junior transfer from Kentucky in Brittany Stovall and a trio of freshmen -- Martika Davis, Amber Minner and Jordi Ferrell.

"They're working every day to get stronger," said Brooks of his freshmen. "Mentally they've got to get ready, there's some concern sometimes with freshmen that they will burn out or give up. But I have never seen such toughness from freshmen like these. Martika Davis and Whitney McCray go at it every day inside. Amber Minner is a great shooter but she's got to learn to get it off a little quicker. Jordi Ferrell has really shown me something. She's got a mental toughness as a guard. She will be able to give Paige some rest time."

The Lady Bulldogs don't have a lot of size outside of McCray and Gipson, which leads Brooks to think his team will need to get up and down the floor and push the tempo.

"We're quick and we're going to get after people," said Brooks. "We're going to get in people's faces and put the pressure on. We're going to go man to man and try to press a little bit. We don't have a lot of perimeter shooters. We don't shoot a lot of 3s so we're going to try to get some layups off the press and work it inside."

The Lady Bulldogs have never won a district championship but the girls program has been steadily improving the last few years, giving Brooks hope for this year and especially next year with every player slated to return.

"We're looking at the district but we haven't looked that far ahead," said Brooks. "What we really want to do this year is come in and learn and watch and play as hard as we can play. We won't put as much pressure on ourselves as we did last year because we had some seniors. We don't have any seniors this year. So we just want to play the best we can and also learn from the best teams. and try to get better from that."