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Highland Women Start Season Ranked in Hoops Top Tenpublished October 29, 2014
Highland Women Start Season Ranked in Hoops Top Ten
After finishing the 2014 season at 33-3, Jayhawk East champion, Region 6 champion, and National Runner-up (losing the championship game in overtime), the Highland women’s basketball team starts the 2014-15 season ranked #9 in the pre-season NJCAA rankings.
The Scotties had their highest national finish last season as well their first Jayhawk Conference championship. “Last year was a great experience for our team, but it was exactly that . . . last year,” stated Highland head coach BJ Smith. “This year is a new season and our departing sophomores left us with a whole lot of production to replace, as well as lots of leadership.” The Scotties are the only college team in America at any level that had three players on the All-American list. “At this level, every year is a new season. This year is especially new as we are replacing three All-Americans, which will be very difficult,” said Smith.
In addition to the departing sophomores, the Scotties have already been bitten by the dreaded injury bug as returning sophomore Cassie Ledgerwood (Lenexa) was lost to the season with an ACL and returner Ashleigh Bristol (St. Joseph, MO) will be out until January with a broken wrist. This will leave the Highland women with just five other returners who saw action a year ago. “Injuries are a part of every season and it’s important that we understand that injuries are just an opportunity for other players to grow and develop. Injuries don’t change what are expectations are,” said Smith.
The other five returning Scottie sophomores are Maria Bello (Port Arthur, TX), Justice Daniel (Olathe), Anna Deegan (Bonner Springs), India Johnson (Overland Park, and Faith Rolen (Carrollton, TX).) Along with Bristol, Daniel, Deegan, and Johnson all played key roles for the Scottie run last year and will be looked to for the leadership needed in the upcoming season.
The Scotties were also picked 2nd in the Jayhawk East conference for the third straight year. “Pre-season picks and rankings are fun, and I believe we have gained a small modicum of respect from being picked 7th in the Conference our first year, but in the end, all that fun doesn’t get us any baskets. Oour goal is to be there in March, and we have more work than days right now, so we will focus on improving daily,” Smith noted.
Highland opens play this Friday, October 31 – which is perhaps only right as Smith notoriously sounds scary about every new season -- in Allen Fieldhouse at 5:00 pm against Little Priest Tribal College. When asked about a prediction on the season, Smith said, “We have some guards, we have some forwards, and we are thinking about putting in a couple of offenses and defenses. Hopefully, we can find a way to be as good as the corn crops have been in Highland.” Time will tell, but regardless of the departures and the injuries, Scottie fans know they will have fun watching the 2015 rendition and are looking forward to seeing their new team in this new season.