After finishing their 2009-2010 season 31-3 and posting a nearly flawless 15-1 mark in Jayhawk West Conference play en route to taking home the title, the Seward County Lady Saints basketball team has been picked 2nd for the 2010-2011 season in a poll of the league’s coaches Monday at the conference media day.
The Lady Saints who were ranked 9th and ahead of #14 Hutchinson in the NJCAA National poll, find themselves behind the Lady Dragons in the coaches poll to open the year. The pair are followed nearly identically in the vote by the way that the conferences seven other teams finished last season with Garden City coming in 3rd, Cloud County 4th, and Butler, Barton, Pratt, Colby, and Dodge City following them. On the East side maybe the shock of the day came when last year’s Region VI Champions and 3rd place National finishers, the Labette Lady Cardinals were chosen 8th out of 10 teams by the coaches in the East. Independence was chosen as the top team in the league after a 12-6 finish last year and were followed by Johnson County, Cowley, Coffeyville, and Ft. Scott in the top 5. The coaches predicted KCK, Highland, Labette, Neosho County, and Allen County to finish in the bottom half of the conference at spots 6-10.
Seward will have plenty of room on their bench this season as the Lady Saints will likely start the season with just 9 players and just 1 returning lettermen dressed for opening night. The Lady Saints lone returning player that will be ready to go opening night will be Morgan Skomal who is a versatile 5’10 forward that averaged 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds a season ago as a freshman while playing in 32 of 34 games. Skomal is also a deep threat for the Lady Saints as she led Seward last year in shooting from behind the arc as she knocked the three ball down at a 44% clip. Seward will also have Kendra Spresser back this season after averaging 9.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last season but an injury has forced the sophomore guard off of the court for the time being and it is unknown at this point when she will be ready to go in game action this season. To add some experience, the Lady Saints do bring on a pair of sophomore transfers this season in Cierra Harris and Hannah Rotolo. Harris is a 6’1 forward who joins the team from Ekard College in Florida while Rotolo is a familiar name in Liberal after playing her high school days for the Lady Skins at LHS and playing her freshman season for the Barton Cougars before returning to Liberal again. Harris will give the Lady Saints an experienced forward inside that has a surprisingly soft touch with her jump shot as well. Rotolo brings sophomore leadership to the guard position and an experienced player who has been the rigors of a Jayhawk West season before. Last season at Barton she averaged 8.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.4 steals in 29 games for the Cougars.
Seven freshman will don the green and white for the first time this season and they look to be a strong class with a trio of guards to go along with four front court players. Autumn Miller will vie for time at the point guard spot as she comes to Seward from Louisville, Kentucky. Miller averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists per game as a junior and looks to be back to form after missing her senior year due to injury. Mattie Yanke is a 5’11 guard from Gruver, Texas. With a tall frame but good touch from the outside, Yanke will look to create problems for opposing defenses this season by stretching them out or taking advantage of her size inside. Kayla Thomas was an All-State pick a season ago for South Gray HS and is a proven winner after leading the Rebs to an undefeated season and a state championship in 2010. She will be looked upon early to make an impact on the Lady Saints and should be able to do that with her good quickness and ability to score from both inside and out of the paint.
The Lady Saints forwards should stack up favorably size wise at least to any in the Jayhawk Conference this season as they throw out there 6’2 Hanna Bognar, 6’0 Ashlynn Knoll and Kelsey Willson, as well as 5’10 Mariah Lee to go along with Harris and Skomal. Bognar is the tallest player on the Lady Saints roster and will look to make a difference inside for the Lady Saints this season. Along with her ability to score inside, Bognar possesses a nice mid range jumper that should come in handy throughout the season. Knoll was a big time scorer in high school at Happy High in Texas and will be looked upon to do the same this season for the Lady Saints. She is one of the better shooters on the team but also has a nose for the ball inside where she averaged 8.3 rebounds per game as a senior last year. Willson will be looked upon for tough minutes inside this year after coming to Seward from Ripley HS in Oklahoma. As a senior she averaged nearly 14 points and 9 rebounds per game and was an All-State pick. Lee brings a lot to the table for Seward and has good strength inside to go with her 5’10 body. She averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds per game a year ago and also created havoc for opposing offenses by blocking 6 shots per game.
Seward wraps up its preseason schedule today in Alva against Northwestern Oklahoma State and will kick off its season November 5th in the Greenhouse at 6:00 when the Jayhawk East’s Neosho County Lady Panthers come to town to take them on in the Pepsi Classic. The Lady Saints will continue action in the Pepsi Classic Saturday night when they host Ranger College again with the tip at 6:00.

JAYHAWK CONFERENCE PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH