Junction City doesn’t have a basketball start date inked in for the season. The Lady Dragons, annually, don’t hit the hardwood until football season is finished, and Junction City is usually the last football team playing.
Coach Henry Harrell said that’s not a bad thing for his Lady Dragons, who just get more practice time. It paid off last year when Junction City went 20-4, claimed the conference and regional championship and advanced to the second round of the 2A State Tournament.
The Lady Dragons might be hard-pressed to repeat last year’s success after losing a chunk of their production to graduation.
“Stay healthy and, as the season goes along, get more experience and play more consistently. Those are the keys for us,” said Harrell, who will return Bryanna Raye and Kenslee McLelland from last year’s starting lineup. He hopes to have Keyanna Ross on the court for the second semester.
This year’s success will hinge, largely, on Raye’s play at point guard.
“She’s going to have to stay out of foul trouble and play more consistent, shoot the ball more consistent,” said Harrell. “We’ll have to have Kenslee come on and be able to score for us. We’re depending on Shannon Evans to step up and we have a sophomore (Leslie Reddick) that can be pretty good if she gets it together. She’s young and inexperienced.
“We’re also depending on Olivia Creager.”
Bryun Meadows and Keaundra Jackson round out an athletic roster.
Harrell hopes Junction City’s past success will help this season.
“I think for the last two years, we played pretty good. I think these kids don’t want to be the ones to let the program down,” he said. “I think we can take being in tight ball games and finding a way to win. That can help us a lot for this season as well.”
As for the late start, most teams would look at it as a bad thing. Junction City has always written its early-season schedule in pencil rather than ink. It hasn’t hurt the Lady Dragons in the past.
“We’re kind of used to that. We’re used to not playing until football is over with,” said Harrell. “I wanted to play in a tournament, but we weren’t able to get in one. But that just gives us more time on the practice floor. Hopefully, we’ll be able to hit the floor running when the season finally does tip off for us.
“We’re looking forward to the season getting started. It should be a fun season. Ups and downs and bumps along the way but I think at the end, we should be able to, at least, make it to the regionals and who knows from there.”