(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- This may be the year New Madrid County Central puts it all together.
Coming off of a Class 3, District 1 championship, the Lady Eagles return nearly every piece of their title run including two of the more dynamic players in the region.
Seniors Benesha Childress and Karen McGloson will try and lead NMCC to a repeat championship and closer to a state appearance.
"I feel like we've got a good thing going and we're heading in the right direction," NMCC head coach David Crockett said. "I'm looking forward to this year. It's going to be a fun year."
The Lady Eagles were 19-9 last season and lost guard Ebonni Adway to graduation. Their final game was against eventual fourth-place Seymour during last year's Class 3 sectional game, 73-39.
Their lopsided loss proved NMCC may have been in unfamiliar territory last season, but the Lady Eagles are looking to turn that aspect of their game around.
Childress, a 5-9 hybrid guard/forward, led the Lady Eagles with 19.3 points per game and brought down 8.2 rebounds a game.
She also averaged 4.6 steals per game with 2.2 assists.
In December of last season, Childress, who's already eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career, finished with a triple-double against Scott County Central consisting of 40 points, 14 rebounds and 12 steals.
"She started for me as a freshman and she's just gotten better every year," Crockett said. "She's become a better team player and could potentially be our all-time leading scorer. She makes us go."
McGloson was just as feared.
The 5-10 senior averaged 18 points, nine rebounds and 2.2 steals per game completing one of the best one-two combos in southeast Missouri.
"It's a good duo," said Crockett. "If you're going to shut Benesha down, you've got Karen inside who can definitely hurt you."
Along with his two stars, Crockett believes he may have found the missing piece to last year's squad in his role players.
Whitney Williams, Rashaundra Summers, Dallas Campbell and Aquaness Johnson all return with varsity experience.
"Each year, every team starts concentrating on Benesha and Karen more and more. I think our other players have really stepped up and I'm looking for them to surprise a few people, especially Rashaundra Summers," Crockett said. "She led the junior varsity as a freshman but she really hasn't had to score a lot because of Karen and Benesha.
"I think she's going to have that kind of year where people start to take notice of her."
According to Crockett, Williams has evolved defensively, Summers could give him a third scoring option, Campbell is his outside shooting presence and Johnson is torrid on the boards. Amirah Ruff will add to NMCC's guard play.
"I feel like we're pretty deep right off the bat," Crockett said. "I feel confident playing nine girls. All of those girls I mentioned stepped up and began to score and become more well-rounded players and it showed towards the end of the year."
NMCC will begin their season Monday during the Bulldog Classic where they sit as the top seed. Their first round game will be against Caruthersville at 4 p.m.