Park Hill South experienced the ups and downs a year ago.
In Josh Dorr’s first season as head coach, the Panthers scored quality wins over St. Joseph Central, Liberty and Hickman during the regular season. They eventually finished 12-15 overall after a loss to North Kansas City in the Class 5 District 14 championship game.
Park Hill South showed the capability of being a consistent winner, promise Dorr hopes the players fully realize this season.
“I think it was eye opening to a lot of them just to see that they could do it, maybe just to get that belief factor and the attitude that there’s no reason we can’t do this,” he said. “I don’t know if they had really had that belief factor yet, and I think they were able to get that and some of that is just maturity.”
Park Hill South lost three seniors, including starters Grace Cunningham and Emily Dinovo.
However, Raquel Reid — recently signed to play collegiately at Missouri Valley — played only sparingly late in the season after recovering from an offseason torn ACL. Her full return paired with all-district performers Alecia Westbrook and Dymeria Guillory gives reason to believe the production lost can be replaced.
Dorr also knows more of what to expect after finishing 6-4 and in a three-way tie for second in the Suburban Conference Red Division.
“I didn’t know much about any of the teams until we got there and we were able to see them play,” Dorr said about the conference teams they faced in his first year as coach. “Just getting to know the coaches and getting to know their teams was a good experience.”
A 6-foot-1 junior, Westbrook will be a third-year starter for Park Hill South after averaging team-highs of 15.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game last season. Guillory, a senior guard, scored 8.6 points per game to go with 2.1 steals per game.
Both earned All-Red Division honors.
Park Hill South has 11 players total on the roster, also including senior starter Kate Eischens and junior reserve De’Jaria Guillory. The Panthers often played fast last season but occasionally reckless with turnovers.
In addition, Park Hill South pushed for points and drew a lot of fouls but struggled at the free throw line.
“I kind of come in every year especially at the beginning and we focus a lot on defense,” Dorr said. “We want to be one of the best defensive teams and so we’re going to focus on that and more playing aggressive and hard on defense. We want to get out and run and we have a lot of good athletes and speed so we want to take advantage of that.”