ON THE COVER: Player to watch - Breylin SmithREAD ONLINE
Clinton Lady Yellow JacketsPublished October 27, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.
Coach: Ricky Cooper, 20th year
Assistant coach: Cole Gardner
2012-13 record: 9-14 (5-9 in conference). The Lady Yellow Jackets finished fifth in the conference and were not able to improve on that in the district tournament. The top four teams advanced to the regional. It marked the first time in seven years for Clinton to see its season end with the district tournament.
Returning starters: Nicole Sykes, 6-0 senior post, 18 points per game; Hannah Stoltzfus, 5-7 senior guard, 11 ppg; Kaitlyn Weaver, 5-7 senior forward, 4 ppg.
Best inside players: Sykes is a returning all-stater. Weaver, as well as Cameron Beem, 5-8 senior forward, will provide the Lady Jackets with strength inside.
Best outside players: Stoltzfus and Tori Johnson, 5-6 sophomore guard.
How will you match/exceed/fall short of your success from last year?: The Lady Yellow Jackets were disappointed last season, but they know how to win after a seven-year run of advancing to regional play. “We’ve got a lot of experience, and I feel like all that coming back will help us,” Cooper said. “We know what it takes and what we have to do to get things done.”
Team strengths: Last season was an aberration, so the Lady Jackets’ winning tradition should help them overcome a sub-par year. Their experience will also be a plus.
Team weaknesses: With just 11 players on the roster, Cooper said his team doesn’t have a great deal of depth. The Lady Yellow Jackets will need to avoid injuries.
Games to watch: Cooper said all 2-4A Conference games will be intriguing. Heber Springs is always the Lady Yellow Jackets’ main rival. The Lady Panthers are aiming for a fourth consecutive conference championship. Clinton would love to interrupt that string.
Toughest opponent: Heber Springs finished 27-5 last year, including a 13-1 run through the 2-4A Conference schedule, and returns four starters off that team.
College prospects: Sykes has the potential.
In a nutshell: “We just feel like if we can keep everybody healthy, we’ve got a chance to get back,” Cooper said.