Without any real trees inside, the Rolla High School girls' basketball team will relay on its speed and quickness to create a lot of scoring opportunities.
The Lady Bulldogs are slated to open the season against Willard on Saturday, Nov. 30 as part of the Key Sport Shootout at the RHS gym.
RHS has six varsity letter-winners back from last season's squad, which finished 10-15 overall. They are 5-5 senior guard Shannon McCaul, 5-6 senior forward Madison Collier, 5-8 senior forward Gabe Otte, 5-8 senior guard Jade DeShurley, 6-0 senior Megan Neal and 5-5 senior guard Brooke Maxwell.
Coming up from the junior varsity squad expecting to help are 5-7 sophomore forward Caroline Victor and 5-7 junior guard Kalise Garner.
The big loss to graduation is all-district and all-conference forward Andrea Zalis, who led the squad in scoring (15.3) and rebounding (8.0) last season.
"I believe we're over the conditioning hump and are now fine-tuning things," said RHS head coach Bryce Swafford.
Swafford says RHS has to play to its strengths.
"Everybody knows we're a senior-loaded group," he said. "We've got to get up and down the floor quickly. I think speed will be to our advantage; transitioning from offense to defense. We've got to rely on our quickness and speed, get some easy transition baskets and create a lot of havoc and panic.
"Shannon McCaul has done a really nice job so far. She's really taking the role of point guard. And Gabe Otte has the potential to be a big-time scorer for us. Also, Collier, and McCaul will be chipping in (scoring). Neal will be contributing more with her height and DeShurley is doing some good things. And we're expecting some good things from Victor, Garner and Maxwell. They showed a lot of promise this summer."
With a lack of overall size, the coach says the Lady Bulldogs must do the little things inside.
"When a shot goes up we've got to really crash the boards and make people block us out," Swafford said. "And we need someone to step into the role to get garbage points around the basket. We're losing 15-to-18 points a game. We've got to distribute that out between everybody."
LADY BULLDOG NOTES: Amy Luna will be Swafford's varsity/junior varsity assistant coach while former Lady Bulldog standout Kaitlin (Bramel) Jones will coach the freshman squad.
This is the first season that Missouri prep basketball teams can hold preseason jamborees, and the Rolla Jamboree will be held Friday at the RHS gym, starting at 4:30 p.m.
In addition to the Rolla boys' and girls' basketball squads, the Crocker and Cuba teams will also be participating.
Page 2 of 3 - The jamboree sessions are basically practice scrimmages. Each team will play two sessions of three, 6-minute quarters versus the other two schools. Personal fouls will not be tallied and coaches may be on the court to provide instruction to players during play.
Admission will be $3 per person (ages 6-60).
Here is the jamboree schedule:
Nov. 22, RHS gym
4:30 p.m.: Rolla vs. Crocker girls.
5:05 p.m.: Rolla vs. Crocker boys.
5:40 p.m.: Cuba vs. Crocker girls.
6:15 p.m.: Cuba vs. Crocker boys.
6:50 p.m.: Rolla vs. Cuba girls.
7:25 p.m.: Rolla vs. Cuba boys.
Key Sport Classic
The RHS basketball teams will officially open the season on Saturday, Nov. 30 by again hosting the Key Sport Shop Tip-Off Classic at the RHS gyms.
Schools participating this year are Rolla, Salem, Northwest (Cedar Hill) and Willard.
All teams and spectators should enter through the main entrance behind the high school. Doors will be open at 11 a.m.
Admission will be $3 for ages 6-up.
The boys' and girls' varsity and junior varsity teams will all be playing during the Key Sport Classic. The Rolla teams will be taking on the Willard teams while Salem will meet Northwest.
Here is the schedule
Key Sport Tip-Off Classic, RHS gyms
Noon - Main Gym: Salem vs. Northwest varsity girls. Practice Gym: Salem vs. Northwest jayvee boys.
1:30 p.m. - Main Gym: Salem vs. Northwest varsity boys. Practice Gym: Salem vs. Northwest jayvee girls.
3 p.m. - Main Gym: Rolla vs. Willard varsity girls.
Practice Gym: Rolla vs. Willard jayvee boys.
4:30 p.m. - Main Gym: Rolla vs. Willard varsity boys. Practice: Rolla vs. Willard jayvee girls.
Nov. 30...vs. Willard in Key Sport Shootout, 3 p.m.
Dec. 2...Jefferson City, 6 p.m.
Dec. 5...Columbia Rock Bridge, 6 p.m.
Dec. 12...at Pacific, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 16...at Columbia Hickman, 6 p.m.
Dec. 20...Jeff. City Helias, 6 p.m.
Dec. 26-28...US Bank Holiday Invitational
Jan. 6-11...Waynesville JV Tourney
Jan. 9...Marshfield, 6 p.m.
Jan. 13...Joplin, 6 p.m.
Jan. 16...at Dixon, 6 p.m.
Jan. 23-25...Sedalia Tourney
Jan. 28...at St. James, 6 p.m.
Jan. 30...Springfield Hillcrest, 6 p.m.
Feb. 3...at Waynesville, 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 6...at West Plains, 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 10...at Springfield Parkview, 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 13...Camdenton, 6 p.m.
Feb. 17...Springfield Kickapoo, 6 p.m.
Feb. 20...Springfield Glendale, 6 p.m.
Page 3 of 3 - Feb. 24...at Lebanon, 6 p.m.
March 3-8...Class 5 District 10 District Tourney at Cedar Hill