Delta, 6-0, Sr.
Delta had one of the top teams in the area this year, and Below was their go-to player. The 6-foot senior was dominant against all opponents, averaging 24.2 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2 assists per game. She shot 62 percent from the field and 71.7 percent from the foul line. This year Below led the Lady Bobcats to an overall record of 27-3 and a third place finish in the Class 1 state tournament. She scored right at 2,000 points in her career at Delta.
"She's one of those kids that you build a team around," said Sikeston coach Lee Brooks. "You can't replace a player like that. She can take another center outside and pretty much have her way with them because she's such a good ball handler. She was much more agile than most centers I saw and she knows what to do when she catches the basketball."
Charleston, 6-0, Jr.
After a breakthrough sophomore season, much was expected out of Whitney this year. The 6-foot junior delivered, leading Charleston to the brink of the state playoffs. No defense had an answer for her in the post as she averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds per game. Her outstanding leaping ability and great shooting touch made her arguably the toughest defensive assignment in the area. Next year as a senior, she should be the front runner for the Female Player of the Year award.
"Missy Whitney is an outstanding player with a lot of athletic ability," said Kelly coach Rod McQuerter. "She can win games by herself -- she's that good. She is every opposing coach's nightmare because she can handle the ball out on the floor. Then when she gets inside, she's athletic enough to take it over anybody that tries to guard her. Charleston is going to be very tough with her coming back next year."
Dexter, 5-11, Sr.
Dunlap capped off her solid high school career at Dexter with a productive senior season. Her play in the post opened up her team's outside game, making the Lady Bearcats one of the top teams in the area. She averaged 14 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, shooting 71 percent from the free throw line. The 5-foot-11 senior also broke Dexter's career record in points with 1,153. She guided the Lady Bearcats to a record of 20-6 this season, reaching the district finals for the first time in 16 years.
"Katie is a big, strong girl," said Notre Dame coach Jerry Grim. "If she catches it on the block, she's going to put it in the hole. She was strong on the inside and (Dexter) had some good guards. They had a team that could really shoot the ball. She was a very good rebounder and is Dexter's all-time leading scorer."
Kelly, 5-7, Sr.
Essner was the floor general for Kelly's 23-6 team, leading the Lady Hawks to the Class 3 quarterfinals. Like in softball, the intensity she played with made all the players around her better. This year she averaged 12 points, 5.5 assists, 4.5 steals and 5.2 rebounds per game. She was also Kelly's top defender. Essner ends her career as Kelly's all-time leader in steals and assists, averaging over 100 steals and 100 assists in each of her four years.
"She's one of the grittiest little ballplayers you will find," said Twin Rivers coach Jeff Walk. "She's going to do whatever it takes to win. Some kids just have a will to win, and all the Essners seem to have that will. She handles the ball well and her defense is her strong point."
Chaffee, 5-8, Sr.
Multi-sport standout Jennifer Vandeven was the driving force behind Chaffee's team this season. She averaged 17.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals per game, leading the Lady Red Devils to their first district victory in four years. Vandeven's best games came at the right time as she scored 21 in a win over Ellington and 22 in a loss to Van Buren in the district tournament. This year the 5-foot-8 senior etched her name in the school record books, becoming Chaffee's all-time scoring leader.
ON VANDEVEN: "I think she's an outstanding ballplayer," said Dexter coach Gavin Miller. "You can't contain her for a whole game. When we played (Chaffee), they scored six points as a team in the first half. In the second half, she scored 25 on her own. She was pretty much what Chaffee had this year and she won most of their games."