As odd as the statement sounds, Chris Stubbs believes he returns more than five starters from last year.
Platte County lost a trio of key role playing seniors, but six players back received ample time in the starting five due to injuries and a player leaving the team. The Pirates experienced a breakout with a deep lineup, finally ending a long district dry spell, and they might have even more depth this time around.
“It’s the most depth I’ve had since ’09,” Stubbs said, referencing his 2009 Class 4 state championship team. “I’m not comparing them to ’09, but we’re going to be deep.”
Platte County returns its top four scorers from last year’s team, which finished 14-12.
To earn a winning record for a second straight season, the Pirates won four of five late in the season including a Class 4 District 15 first round blowout for their first postseason victory since 2011. They were then overmatched a semifinal against eventual district champion St. Pius X with only two seniors — forwards Amy Lett and Liz Peterson — in uniform.
Ava White, a key defensive piece at guard, suffered a season-ending knee injury late in her senior year.
Platte County also played the majority of the season without senior guard Rockey Chambers, who led the Pirates in scoring before leaving the team for personal reasons. She’s back along with junior guard Jaycie Stubbs — expected to be a third-year starter after scoring 10 points to go with a team-high 2.5 assists per game as a sophomore.
In addition, Platte County returns junior guard Hannah Valentine (7.5 points per game), senior forward Lauren Walker (6.0 points, 5.0 rebounds per game), junior guard Taylor Farr (4.5 points per game) and junior forward Janessa Barmann (4.0 points per game). All six of the top returners spent some time in last season’s starting lineups with the junior contingent still making up the bulk of the experience.
With juniors Meghan Amos, Steph Carroll and Shayla Kohler also ready to take on larger roles, Chris Stubbs could go 10 players deep and return to his preferred up-tempo style.
“With Rockey being back and the maturity of some of these girls, I’m changing,” Chris Stubbs said. “We’re going to open it back up and let them score. It’s not going to have to be sets. We might even look at going up tempo on defense, press a little bit. We’ll see.”
Platte County hasn’t developed a go-to scorer during its recent resurrection, and that trend could continue. The Pirates expect balance with matchups possibly dictating some of the lineups.
With 27 wins over the past two seasons, one excuse no longer exists. Platte County went through a youth movement two years ago but will now rely mainly on experienced juniors and seniors to continue their development.
Platte County went 5-5 in the Suburban Conference Blue Division, finishing third. Jaycie Stubbs (first team), White (second team) and Valentine and Walker (honorable mention) received all-conference honors.
“We’re not young,” Chris Stubbs said. “We played so young and so nervous in that semifinal game (against St. Pius X), so I think we’re going to be better. They’ve played together forever, so excuses? No more.”