(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Finding a consistent attack was the biggest hurdle the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs faced last season.
At times, their hounding pressure defense worked to perfection causing turnovers and allowing them to score layups on the other end. At other times, turnovers were scarce as they struggled to find offense because of it.
For the 2012-13 season, searching for that consistency will continue as they try and rebuild after losing all but three players from their 16-10 season as head coach Matt Schonhoff enters his third season with the Lady Bulldogs.
"Obviously, our big thing is getting steals and converting," Schonhoff said. "In the games we played where we converted everything, we were a tough team to beat. We're still trying to find consistency. Our girls have been working extremely hard with that. Hopefully, we can translate that into some good things."
Sikeston graduated six seniors, who made up for the bulk of their production a season ago and brought on a resurgence of such in Sikeston's program.
Those six seniors -- Tyangela Gibson, Quesha Howard, Taneshia Pulley, Keyonna Blissett, Danika Garmon and Jalen Peet -- combined to win 33 games the past two seasons, marking the most wins in a two-year period in Sikeston girls history.
After a come from behind win against Fredericktown in the opening round of the Class 4, District 1 tournament, Sikeston's season ended against Notre Dame, 63-56, last year.
Aleah Little, Michala Nichols and Yolanda Johnson are the only remaining pieces from last year's district semifinal appearance.
"They've done a really good job of showing the younger kids what we have to do," Schonhoff said about his three returners. "They've helped the girls on what to look for and have really shown good leadership."
Johnson is Sikeston's lone returning starter. She was one of Schonhoff's defensive leaders behind Howard last season but will be looked upon to become a scoring leader as well.
"We'll need her to hit a lot of shots for us this year," Schonhoff said about Johnson. "It's some extra pressure on her, but it's something she's took full responsibility in and done well with."
Spending most of her time off the bench, Little will assume a starting role this season.
"She's been with me for three years now and she had great minutes for us off the bench last season," said Schonhoff. "She's a tenacious worker who plays very, very hard."
The rest of Sikeston's lineup will consist of Nichols, new addition Trenice Greer and freshman Erica Peet.
"Having Trenice (Greer) has really anchored down the post," Schonhoff said. "It's just her first here playing, but she's very athletic and can get up and down the floor very well. She's a good worker and she's learning."
Along with those five, Schonhoff will be leaning on a group of freshman off the bench that will solidify their deep roster which will run 10-deep on any given night.
The freshman crop went 10-3 as an eighth grade team last year, which is something Schonhoff looks forward to.
"They're accustomed to playing and maybe the shock of playing varsity may get to them, but hopefully it won't," he said. "I know they'll play extremely hard. They love to play and they're going to be a big help to us."
Sikeston begins their season tonight when they travel to Saxony Lutheran.