Quality still formidable, but quantity suffers after graduation for Lady Tigers.
The quality is still extremely formidable for the St. James High School girls’ basketball team.
The quantity has been thinned, however. And that is what head coach Terry Wells and the Lady Tigers have been addressing during the summer.
The core of the standout St. James girls’ squad from a season ago returns. That team finished 24-3 and was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 most of the regular season in Class 3 state poll before being upset in the Class 3 District 9 Tournament.
However, graduation has stripped the squad of depth.
Wells said the squad is attempting to tweak things while some of the youngsters can replenish that quality depth.
“The summer has gone great,” Wells said. “Basically we’ve been focused on a half-court defense and a new type offense, because we have lost some of the depth that we’ve had in the past. And the girls’ have caught on well.”
In the past several seasons, the last two under Wells and previous to that under former head coach Brad Conway, the Lady Tigers have used a trapping, pressure defense that created havoc throughout a game.
St. James will still use pressure defense, but perhaps in shorter stretches.
“We’re going to have to pick and choose our spots,” Wells said. “We have only played seven players at the varsity level this summer. We’ve got to develop some depth to do that (pressure defense) for 32 minutes like we’ve done in the past.”
Of course, the Lady Tigers are still loaded with talent if they stay healthy.
Key players back include 5-7 senior guards Ashlee Marlatt - and all-stater - and Alexis Uffmann; 5-6 junior guard Shauna Rinehart, and 5-10 sophomore forwards Devin Fuhring and Kenzie Guese.
So far this summer the varsity squad has played in the Nixa Team Camp as well as four different sessions of the Licking Shootout.
And during those events the Lady Tigers have rolled up a 38-3 summer record. And the three teams they have lost to - Blue Springs South, Park Hills Central and Bolivar - St. James has also beaten this summer.
St. James is slated to end its summer game competition on July 17-19 with another Licking Shootout session in St. James and Rolla.
“The entire high school program is playing well,” Wells said. “And our junior high program has shown some improvement as well. Our junior high teams have played mostly small-school varsity teams. That’s where our depth has got to come from.