Unlike a year ago the Rolla High School girls’ basketball team has got some experience to lean on this winter.

A veteran Lady Bulldog squad is scheduled to open its season this weekend in the Key Sport Tip-Off at the RHS gym. On Saturday, Nov. 29 Rolla’s varsity girls’ squad takes on St. Clair at 3 p.m. in the main gym and the Lady Bulldog junior varsity squad plays St. Clair at 4:30 p.m. in the practice gym.


Unlike a year ago the Rolla High School girls’ basketball team has got some experience to lean on this winter.
A veteran Lady Bulldog squad is scheduled to open its season this weekend in the Key Sport Tip-Off at the RHS gym. On Saturday, Nov. 29 Rolla’s varsity girls’ squad takes on St. Clair at 3 p.m. in the main gym and the Lady Bulldog junior varsity squad plays St. Clair at 4:30 p.m. in the practice gym.
The Lady Bulldogs are coming off a 10-15 campaign. The main loss to graduation is all-district and all-conference point guard Kaitlin Bramel.
Although roles are going to have to be tweaked, the RHS girls have a large group returning with varsity experience.
“In past seasons we have always had three or four starters returning,” said RHS head coach Bryce Swafford. “Last year we were returning only one true starter and the others were not real seasoned with varsity experience.
“Last year we really got an introduction to it. Now they understand the speed of the game. And I think we’ll be more balanced this year.”
Expected to compete in the Lady Bulldog varsity rotation for Saturday’s opener are 5-9 senior forward Dani Steele, 5-11 senior forward Tori Hagni, 5-5 senior guard Amanda Rogers, 5-3 senior guard Kim Carter, 5-10 junior forward Adrian Pogue, 5-7 sophomore forward Ashlee Rightnowar, 5-9 junior guard Ijeoma Okafor and 5-7 junior forward Kaylyn Stoll.
Leah Parry, a 6-2 senior post, will be added in the mix when she recovers from an ankle injury suffered during the volleyball season. Swafford said Parry may return in around three weeks.
Steele and Hagni both averaged around eight points per game last season. Pogue and Stoll are in their first season with the squad.
“There are three keys for us this season,” Swafford. “No. 1 is to take care of the ball. No. 2 is to finish off shots. And No. 3 is leadership. We have to do those three things and we have to play as one.”
Identifying primary scorers and ball handlers are priorities for the squad.
“The top two scorers returning are Steele and Hagni,” Swafford said. “I think we have the (scoring) potential to do very well. I don’t think we’ll score a lot of points as a team, so defense is going to be what we stress. We have to shut people down.
“Last year Amanda Rogers grew up pretty fast (as a ball handler) when Bramel was hurt. I think she’ll be able to handle pressure. But it will have to be a team effort.”
Speed and quickness figure to be strengths for the Lady Bulldogs, and Swafford hopes that plays a part in triggering many RHS fast breaks.
“Our overall team speed is great,” he said. “We can do a lot of things. I think our team speed and quickness will help us down the stretch. We’ve got to be determined to do that as a whole.”
Swafford feels the Ozark Conference race will be, as usual, extremely difficult.
“It will be tough,” he said. “One of the toughest years of competition for the conference will be this year. A lot of teams are balanced. I think we’ll be right in the thick of the race.
“(Springfield) Kickapoo will be nails followed closely by a really strong (Springfield) Glendale team.”
Here is the RHS girls’ basketball 2008-09 schedule:
Varsity/Junior Varsity
Nov. 29...Key Sport Tip-Off Classic, vs. St. Clair, 3 p.m.
Dec. 1...at Jeff. City Helias, 6 p.m.
Dec. 4...at Columbia Rock Bridge, 6 p.m.
Dec. 8...at Nixa, 6 p.m.
Dec. 11...Waynesville, 6 p.m.
Dec. 15...Columbia Hickman, 6 p.m.
Dec. 19...at Mexico, 6 p.m.
Dec. 27-29...Jeff. City Unilever Classic, tba
Jan. 5-10...Rolla Invitational, tba
Jan. 5-10...Waynesville JV Tourney, tba
Jan. 15...St. James, 6 p.m.
Jan. 19...Lebanon, 6 p.m.
Jan. 22...at Joplin
Jan. 26...at Springfield Hillcrest, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 29...at Jefferson City, 6 p.m.
Feb. 2...at Visitation Academy
Feb. 5...West Plains, 6 p.m.
Feb. 9...Springfield Parkview, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12...at Camdenton, 6 p.m.
Feb. 16...at Springfield Kickapoo, 6 p.m.
Feb. 19...at Springfield Glendale, 6 p.m.
Feb. 23-28...District Tourney, tba

Freshman Girls
Dec. 1-6...Waynesville Tourney, tba
Dec. 8...Lebanon, 6 p.m.
Dec. 9...at St. James, 6 p.m.
Dec. 18...at Columbia Jefferson Junior, 6 p.m.
Jan. 12...Waynesville, 6 p.m.
Jan. 17...Columbia West, 10 a.m.
Jan. 20...Jefferson City, 6 p.m.
Jan. 22...at Joplin, 6 p.m.
Jan. 27...at Lebanon, 6 p.m.
Feb. 3...at Osage, 6 p.m.
Feb. 5...West Plains (at high school), 5 p.m.
Feb. 12...at Camdenton, 6 p.m.
Eighth-Grade Girls
Dec. 1...at Lebanon, 5 p.m.
Dec. 2...at Waynesville, 5 p.m.
Dec. 6...at Columbia Jefferson Junior, 10 a.m.
Dec. 8...at Jeff. City Lewis & Clark, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 11...Jeff. City Thomas Jefferson, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 13...at Columbia Oakland, 10 a.m.
Dec. 15-19...Jeff. City Lewis & Clark Tourney, tba
Jan. 5...at Joel E. Barber, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 12-17...Lebanon Tourney, tba
Jan. 20...Waynesville, 5 p.m.
Jan. 22...Joel E. Barber, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 29...Jeff. City Lewis & Clark, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 2-6...Rolla Invitational, tba