Despite losing six seniors, West Platte might have the pieces in place to make a run at a winning record.
The Bluejays went 7-17 a year ago but bring back many of their key players, including All-KCI Conference selection Nealie Niemeier (10 points per game). In addition, sophomore Hannah McGivern returns after suffering an ACL injury early last season after a promising start to her freshman campaign.
“I’m pretty excited and I feel like we’re working hard in here,” Niemeier said after an early practice. “I know we want to win a lot of games, and I think that’s what we’re going to do. I know a lot of (players) will step up. we have Hannah and quite a few talented underclassmen.”
West Platte’s departed seniors included honorable mention All-KCI pick Gretchen Hiatt along with contributors Taylor Binkley, Lauren Moose, Sadie Kleman, Jessica Lintner and Angel Robinson. The Bluejays were balanced much of last year, and sophomore Lea Moose, juniors Karen Knox (seven points per game) and Rachel Heili and seniors Alexa Raney and Alex LaRoe have experience.
In addition, coach Jennifer Lawson expects freshman Faith Stevens to push for varsity time right away.
“We’ve got three seniors, and it’s the fourth year I’ve been here so it’s the first group I’ve seen all the way through,” Lawson said.
West Platte went from eight wins in 2014-15 to seven last year, but overall, the Bluejays have been pretty consistent. They did take a huge step forward with a victory in the KCI Conference Tournament last year, the first for West Platte in the event since 2006.
Thirteen of the losses in 2015-16 were by eight points or fewer, including a season-ending loss to Orrick in the first round of the Class 2 District 15 tournament.
“While last year was tough on the returning players, they are still hopeful in making up for lost opportunities from last season,” Niemeier said. “I know we lost a lot of games by under 10 points so hopefully those are games we can make up this year and win.”