Several returners are going to have much different roles for the Salem High School girls’ basketball squad, which will be searching for new offensive leaders this season.
Salem was scheduled to open the season Monday at Plato.
The Lady Tigers enjoyed a 16-11 overall record and a 5-2 mark in the rugged SCA last season. Back from that squad are four players with starting experience and six varsity lettermen.
Two seasons ago Salem built its offense around the talents of 6-3 post Baylee Bilyeu. After she graduated, last season the Tiger offense revolved around the perimeter shooting and playmaking talents of guard Taylor Norris, who was one of the area’s leading scorers at 20.1 points while also averaging 4.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.6 steals.
Norris, like Bilyeu, is now playing collegiate basketball.
So Jake Reardon, entering his eighth season as Lady Tiger head coach, will be in search of another offensive leader, or leaders.
Several role players from last season will be attempting to take up some of the scoring slack to make it work.
“The summer went well,” said Lady Tiger assistant coach Nick Frillman. “We have a big freshman class and you never know how that translates. But these seniors have took right to the freshmen. We’re trying to get everybody on the same page and are putting a lot of stuff in.”
Returners to the Lady Tiger rotation this season include 5-11 senior guard/forward Madison Woolf, 5-9 senior forward Jana Cook; 5-7 senior forward Nina Howard, 5-8 junior guard Tatum Hatridge, 5-3 junior guard Shelby Botkin and 5-5 sophomore guard Bella Jadwin.
Newcomers to the varsity include freshmen Savannah Manthey, a 5-5 guard; Ashton Bowers, a 5-4 guard, and Avery Erway, a 5-8 forward.
Woolf averaged 8.6 points and 3.9 rebounds last season while Jadwin averaged 8.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals and Hatridge 4.9 points and 3.3 boards.
“There is not one person looking to replace the points,” Frillman said. “I think it will be a group effort. We have more ball handlers this year than we’ve had before and I think that will work into what we do. I think it will be on a nightly basis – who’s hot that night. That’s kind of what we’re building on; everybody who rotates in are more comfortable handling the ball. We’ll be using our speed and ball handling.”
Frillman expects another stiff SCA race after a unique situation last season. Missouri Class 2 state champion Thayer could finish no better than runner-up in the SCA, as Mountain View Liberty captured the 2018-19 league crown.
“Last year was the best we’ve ever seen in the top-end,” he said of the SCA race. “Liberty won and Thayer was second in the conference and won state. This should be the most entertaining conference season – anyone can beat anyone.”
LADY TIGER NOTES: The Lady Tigers are slated to open the home portion of their schedule Thursday, Dec. 5 against Owensville (6 p.m.).
Salem will be a part of Class 4 District 9 this season, along with Owensville, Rolla, St. Clair, Sullivan and Union. Those same schools comprised District 10 last season.
Nov. 25 – at Plato
Dec. 5 – Owensville, 6 p.m.
Dec. 9-14 – Norwood Invitational
Dec. 11-18 – St. James JV Tourney
Dec. 16-20 – Sullivan Invitational
Dec. 26-28 – Mtn. Grove Family Pharmacy Holiday Tourney
Jan. 6 – Willow Springs, 6 p.m.*
Jan. 8-11 – Waynesville JV Tourney
Jan. 9 – at St. Elizabeth, 6 p.m.
Jan. 13 – Thayer, 6 p.m.*
Jan. 16 – at Mtn. View Liberty, 6 p.m.*
Jan. 20 – Lebanon, 6 p.m.
Jan. 24 – at Licking, 6 p.m.
Jan. 27 – West Plains, 6 p.m.
Feb. 3 – at Mtn. Grove, 6 p.m.*
Feb. 6 – Ava, 6 p.m.*
Feb. 10 – Cuba, 6 p.m.
Feb. 13 – Viburnum, 6 p.m.
Feb. 17 – at Houston, 6 p.m.*
Feb. 20 – at Cabool, 6 p.m.*
Feb. 24 – at St. Clair, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 29-March 6 – Class 4 District 9 Tourney