(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The rise in expectations for the Sikeston girls basketball team have reached an all-time high.
After a nine-win swing to open his first year as the Sikeston girls coach, Matt Schonhoff is hoping the expectations match their results on the floor.
"We expect very good things this year," Schonhoff said. "The girls had a really good summer and competed against some really good teams. We've translated that into our fall workouts and the first couple of weeks of practice."
Last season, the Lady Bulldogs finished with a 17-8 record, which was a huge leap from their 8-14 record two years ago.
They return everyone with the exception of graduated Vonteria Applewhite and their all-conference and all-region leading scorer, Asia Liggins, but still remain a senior-dominated squad that have come to know the system under Schonhoff.
"They know what to expect and what we have to do to compete," he said. "They've shown good focus early in practice, so things have started off well."
Keyonna Blissett, Tyangela Gibson, Quesha Howard and Tanesha Pulley are who the Lady Bulldogs will ask to carry the load this season, with Blissett running the point.
The 5-5 senior averaged 4.1 assists and 4.5 steals per game for Sikeston while dumping in nearly nine points a contest too.
Pulley, also a senior, was their force under the basket. averaging eight rebounds a game while playing stout defense.
Howard, another senior, helped Sikeston's high-pressured, full-court press with lightning quick maneuvers that helped her to the tune of 3.5 steals per game.
Gibson will get a chance to step into a startering role after primarily coming off the bench during last season.
"They know their roles and they know what we expect," Schonhoff said about his four go-to players. "They want to go out and have a good senior year. They've put that into practice and they want to achieve big things."
Looking to chip in some time off the bench will be Jalen Peet and Yalanda Johnson.
"Jalen will give us some good athletic ability off the bench," Schonhoff said. "She's got long arms and can jump really well. That's obviously great for our press."
Johnson joined the Lady Bulldogs during the spring and received a lot of playing time during the summer with her future teammates.
"She's learning what we do and she's catching on pretty quick," Schonhoff said. "She's a good ball player and she's going to help us out."
Adding to a bench that may go nine or 10 players deep will be Aleah Little and Mikala Nichols.
"Their positions are going to be key for us," Schonhoff said. "We're going to be able to go nine deep and play as hard as we can because it's very hard to maintain the level of play that we need to remain successful. We have a deep bench and it helps out quite a bit.
"We expect big things out of our bench and we have players that do come off that can play multiple positions, which is another big plus for us."
Sikeston will open the season on Tuesday when they host Saxony Lutheran.