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Conway Christian Lady EaglesPublished October 27, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.
Conference: 2A-4 East
Coach: Jeremy Carson, fourth year, 21-53
Assistant coach: Kim Powell
2012-13 record: 10-14 overall, fourth in conference. Lost to Mountainburg in the opening round of the Class 2A West Regional, 65-34.
Returning starters: All eight players on the Lady Eagles’ roster started at least three games last year: Haley Carter, 5-3 senior guard; Carly Powell, 5-4 junior guard; Katie Jo Henley, 5-5 junior guard; Mary-Morgan Ellis, 5-9 sophomore forward; Lyndi Dather, 5-10 sophomore forward; Elizabeth Kennedy, 5-9 junior forward; McKinley Wallace, 5-6 junior guard; and Lindsey Clay, 5-5 junior guard.
Best inside players: Carson said Ellis, Dather and Kennedy would be the go-to players inside.
Best outside players: Clay, Wallace and Henley will get the bulk of the work outside, the coach said.
How will you match/exceed/fall short of your success from last year? Conway Christian qualified for the regional tournament last year for the first time in three years, and Carson said his 2013-14 squad was aiming to repeat that feat and go further. “Our team was extremely young and inexperienced in varsity basketball,” he said. “[We] struggled early adjusting to the speed of the game, but we adjusted well as the season went along. Consistency was hard to come by.” He said he expected this veteran squad to play more consistently, especially on offense. “It took us about 15 games last year to establish an offensive identity,” Carson said. “This year, each player knows her role and understands who our go-to scorers are.”
Team strengths: Experience, size and speed.
Team weaknesses: With just eight players on the roster, depth is the most glaring weakness.
Games to watch: Carson said Hector, St. Joseph and Quitman would all be loaded this year. “Every game against those teams could go down to the wire and will be huge in the race for the district title,” he said.
Toughest opponent: Carson described Hector as the most improved team in the conference and said, based on its size, quickness and scoring ability, it would be “an extremely tough matchup” for his team. The Lady Eagles are also wary of Conway St. Joseph, which is loaded with returners and is “always disciplined on offense and very tough defensively.” Another well-coached team, Quitman, “has given us fits the last two years,” Carson said. “I look for them to be in the thick of the conference race.”
College prospects: The sophomore Ellis turned heads offensively in her final four games last year, the coach said. “After starting part-time as a freshman, she developed her inside game, and she is very difficult to stop. She has length and superior athletic ability.”
In a nutshell: Carson said this is the season he has been looking forward to for some time. “We have a great mix of size, speed and athleticism and have the ability to contend for a district title,” he said. “Additionally, these kids are great to coach. We will have a successful season if we can build on the momentum we got late last year and carry that over to this season.”