The numbers both in the won-loss column and on the stat sheet screamed out all-state for St. James High School’s Rachel Connell.


And the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) made it official Wednesday: Connell is an all-stater.


Connell, a 5-10 sophomore point guard for the district champion St. James High School girls’ basketball team, has been selected to the MBCA Missouri Class 4 Girls’ All-State Team, it was announced today.


The numbers both in the won-loss column and on the stat sheet screamed out all-state for St. James High School’s Rachel Connell.

And the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) made it official Wednesday: Connell is an all-stater.

Connell, a 5-10 sophomore point guard for the district champion St. James High School girls’ basketball team, has been selected to the MBCA Missouri Class 4 Girls’ All-State Team, it was announced today.

Certainly, the selection seemed but a formality to those who watched her lead the Lady Tigers to a 27-2 record, a district championship and a berth in the Class 4 Quarterfinals this season.

Whether the Missouri Sportswriters/Sportscasters Association follows suit is yet to be determined. The sportswriters’ all-state team will be announced later this month.

“I thought she did a lot of good things on both ends of the floor,” said Lady Tiger head coach Brad Conway of his star player. “She led us in almost all statistical categories. She had a lot of big games for us -- the biggest being the Rogersville game.”

Conway was referring to the Class 4 Sectional game at Lebanon, in which Connell nearly single-handedly put away Logan-Rogersville in a 62-45 victory with 28 points, 12 rebounds and five steals.

St. James finished one win short of the Class 4 State Tournament Semifinals, falling to Webb City in Class 4 Quarterfinal play at Springfield.

Overall Connell averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 3.0 assists during her sophomore campaign.

“I was very surprised and feel very blessed to receive this award,” Connell said. “I could not have done any of this without my teammates. And there is definitely still a void to achieve, which was our main goal... make it to the state tournament (semifinals).

“This season we made it farther than last year. And as a team we made the most fun out of it as we could. (Getting to the Final Flour) will be our motivation next year. But we will really miss our seniors from this year.”

Connell has bounced back nicely from health issues that, for a while, threatened to wipe out her entire freshman season.

She missed several games during the 2007-08 season battling the problem. Conway knew he had a gem to start last season...he just didn’t know when Connell would get to show off her talent.

Eventually Connell took the court as a freshman and ended up as the Lady Tigers’ leading scorer.

“I had a problem with my pituitary gland,” Connell said. “I lost 20 pounds. For a while the doctors didn’t think I’d play at all as a freshman.

“I’m completely over it now. I’ve gained all my weight back, plus some more muscle.”
With all but seniors Brittany Herode and Marilyn Hughes coming back the Lady Tigers hope to make at least a couple of more runs at a state title during Connell’s time at St. James. And

Connell says she plans to do what she can to be an even more dangerous player in the future.

“I’ve got to work on my quickness,” Connell said. “As a guard I’ve got to get better speed. And, of course, strength...that’s become a big thing in basketball. And shooting, I need to work on getting my shot off quicker. And as a point guard I can always improve my dribbling.”

And because of her work ethic, Conway fully expects Connell to complete her off-season goals for improvement.

“I’d see her working on her quickness,” Conway said. “And she can work on her shot beyond 15 feet. The two biggest areas are quickness and overall strength; and she knows that.”

Joining Connell on the Class 4 All-State Team are a pair of Missouri S&T signees -- Dexter’s Katelyn Heil and Sullivan’s Hailee Parks.

Here is the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) 2008-09 Girls’ Class 4 All-State Team:
Morgan Johnson, Senior, Platte County
Katelyn Heil, Senior, Dexter
Hailee Parks, Senior, Sullivan
Holly Switzer, Senior, St. Joseph Benton
Teresa Turner, Junior, Notre Dame de Sion
Kaitlin Jaegar, Soph, Webb City
Nicole Hudson, Senior, Webb City
Ashley Taylor, Senior, Dexter
Ciara Leak, Senior, Miller Career Academy
Rachel Connell, Soph, St. James
Najee Donson, Junior, Logan-Rogersville
Polly Harrington, Junior, Hickman Mills
Molly Barnes, Senior, Farmington
Alisha Shipley, Senior, West Plains
Talisha Washington, Senior, Fulton