Expectations are high for the Houston High School girls’ basketball team.
How high? Hardwood hopes don’t get much higher than those established by the Lady Tigers:
•Win 20 or more games.
•Win the conference championship.
•Win a district title.
“My expectations are high. Their expectations are high,” HHS coach Brent Kell said. “We’re committed to it.”
The Lady Tigers enter the 2015-’16 campaign with a veteran crew that appears to be capable of reaching the milestones.
HHS returns four of its five starters from last year’s 20-win team that reached the district finale for the second straight year. The group is led by all-conference selections Sarah Kelley and Abby Casper.
Although the Lady Tigers lost their second-leading scorer, top perimeter shooter and floor general Kylee Elmore to graduation, Kell is optimistic about the prospects for his team.
“We feel like we can be an even better basketball team this year,” he said. “We’ve got a little more depth, especially inside, and we’ve improved our physical strength.
“We’ve got kids that are lifting a phenomenal amount of weight. It’s almost scary. I don’t want to mouth off to them too much.”
HHS will be led by Kelley, a senior center who enters the season with 902 career points. She averaged team highs in points (16.7) and rebounds (9.6) last year.
In the backcourt, Casper is back after averaging 7.8 points and a team-best 2.6 steals last year. Also returning is senior point guard Shelby Cremer.
Casper and junior Jaydin Ramsey, who will start on the opposite wing, will be counted on to provide perimeter scoring.
“Jaydin is going to surprise some people,” Kell said. “She’s capable of putting up a lot of points.”
Junior Alyssa Hayes will start alongside Kelley in the frontcourt.
Off the bench, Makayla Koch, Emily Shea and Kaitlyn Root provide depth on the interior. Stephani Crewse, Krista Scott, Monica Hunter and Sevanna Rowland are backcourt options.
HHS begins its journey toward its lofty goals against Fair Grove on Saturday in the Cabool Shootout.
“By Christmas, we could be a pretty good team,” Kell said. “We have to keep working hard, and that’s something they usually do.”