I hope everyone had a tremendous Thanksgiving Day filled with wonderful food and some time spent with family or friends or neighbors! I’m regretting my indulgence today, but it was worth it. I’m pretty sure I could live on pumpkin pie and Cool Whip if I had to. But, I digress, because today is the conclusion of the highly regarded, future award-winning two-part First National Bank of NWA Great 8 Girls Basketball Classic preview (which tips off next Thursday, Dec. 1st)!
Just like the third “Lord of the Rings” movie or the third “Twilight” movie, all the classics these days are divided up into two parts. Come to think of it, though, do those qualify as “classics?” And also, I hate it when they separate the third movie into two parts, so my apologies for stringing this preview out. Too late to do anything about it now, so onward with the remaining four teams.
The contenders part II:
The host team for this year’s Great 8 Girls Basketball Classic is under the leadership of head coach Preston Early who is in his 18th season at the helm of the Rogers High Lady Mounties. Early won his 300th game last season with a relatively young and inexperienced group. That shouldn’t be an issue this year as the Lady Mounties return all five starters (all now seniors) from last season’s 11-17 team. The five starters include Emma Wisdom, Maddi McKinney, Elise Randels, Kelsey Richmond, and Madison Sandor, who recently signed to play college ball at the University of Central Missouri. The Lady Mounties, who play with a WE>Me attitude, also won the Arkansas Activities Association Academic State Championship for Girls Basketball last season with a team GPA of 3.9.
The cross-town rivals to Rogers are the Lady War Eagles of Rogers Heritage led by first-year head coach Scott Moore. Moore brings 18 years of head coaching experience with him (the last three years as part of the women’s staff at Missouri State) to a team with just three seniors and two returning starters (Sr. Meredith Lakis and Jr. Brooke Menke). Focusing on doing things “The War Eagle Way,” this team will look to play with pride and desire and improve for Coach Moore as he takes this young program and looks to build it into a yearly state contender.
#Noexcuses and #brickbybrick are the mottos that will drive this year’s Alma team. With three full-time returning starters that include seniors Kailey Fagan, Abbye Ostrander, and Madi Tobler, and two others that started at times last season, this year’s Alma team has set some lofty goals including winning their conference and making the state tournament. In his second season at Alma, head coach Codey Mann is looking forward to seeing how far his green and gold Airedalettes will go this season, and they’ll be tested early as they tip off the Great 8 against Webb City, MO.
Fort Smith Southside
Coach Steve Brown brings 37 years of coaching experience and a much bigger squad to this year’s Great 8 Classic, physically and literally. At times last year, Ft. Smith Southside suited up only eight players and finished the season with just 11. There is more needed depth on this season’s team for Brown including newcomer senior Lynley Sharum. Southside will be led by returning seniors Loren Hernandez, Emily Lockhart, and Whitney Sober, and point guard and all-district player Kelly Carson is back for her junior season to help lead the floor attack for the Lady Mavericks.
Kyle, his wife Rebekah, and their daughter Caroline have called NW Arkansas home since 2001. He is a front runner so you will find him cheering for the Razorbacks, OU Sooners, and OSU Cowboys at various times throughout the year depending upon who is doing better. He is an avid sports fan in general and enjoys playing golf, reading, writing and he and his family are active members of Keypoint Church. Kyle claims to like almost everyone at #FNBNWA.