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Perryville Lady MustangsPublished October 27, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.
Coach: Terry Smith, in his fifth year at Perryville; third year to coach girls; 19th in career
Assistant coach: Jason Johnson
Last year’s record: 20-10, defeated in the first round of the regionals
Returning starters: Smith said the Mustangs have two returning starters — junior Cali Lankford, a 5-11 forward, 10 points per game; and senior Alexa Kendrick, a 5-3 point guard, averaging 5 ppg. “She’s one of our better outside players. She kind of coordinates things on the floor,” Smith said.
Best inside player: Lankford is “very versatile, a really good perimeter shooter,” Smith said. He said he also will count on a 6-foot ninth-grader, Whitney Woods, who has “really good hands, real good footwork inside.”
Best outside players: Kendrick and Sydney Bean, who is “just a deadly 3-point shooter is what she is,” he said of the 5-6 junior. He also named junior Lacy Alford, 5-8, whom he said is a “tremendous athlete, just explosive and a solid perimeter shooter, but she’s pretty deadly off the dribble.” Junior Bailey Vines “is a good shooter and very quick.” Carly Gottsponer, a 10th-grader, is a player Smith described as “a good ballhandler, and she brings an element of toughness.”
How will you match/exceed/fall short of your success from last year? “We lost some key players, but we feel like we gained a lot of experience last year,” Smith said. “We feel like what we’ve got coming back, combined with what we’ve got moving up, we expect to make the state tournament. We expect to win that necessary game in the regional to get us there, no doubt.”
Team strengths: “I think we’re a good shooting basketball team, very versatile. We can put a lot of different lineups on the floor,” he said. Smith also said the team shines in two important elements: “They’ve got a good work ethic, good chemistry.”
Team weaknesses: “There are questions defensively” because the team will miss forward Emily West, a junior, who tore her ACL twice, Smith said. “She was probably our best defender. I don’t know that we can’t do it; it’s just not proven, yet.”
Games to watch: Riverview, Harding Academy and Wonderview in nonconference games. In conference play, Smith said, there are “two really good teams,” Jessieville and Little Rock eStem.
Toughest opponent: Jessieville and eStem. “Those are the two we have to beat to get to where we want to go,” the coach said.”It’s a tough league,” he said.
College prospects: Lankford is “certainly a college prospect,” Smith said, as well as Alford and Woods.
In a nutshell: “It’s just an outstanding group of individuals with a strong work ethic and with high expectations,” he said.