First-year HHS girls' basketball coach Jim Moore talks to his team during a fourth-quarter huddle Saturday.

Jim Moore is happy to be home.

The Houston High School graduate returned to his alma mater in April when he was named the successor for longtime girls’ basketball coach Brent Kell.

“Houston has always had a special place in my heart,” Moore said. “My family is still here and a lot of my high school friends are here. It means a lot to be part of the basketball program.”

Especially such a good one.

Moore inherited a team that returns three starters from the program’s second-ever district championship.

“Coach Kell did such a great job,” Moore said. “My hopes are to not only keep it at the level it’s at, but somehow take it higher.”

He hopes to do so with the same style of play ––a fast-paced offense and baseline to baseline pressure defense –– that the past 13 years led his teams to a combined 245-115 record with five district championships, four conference titles and a state semifinal appearance.

HHS will be led by senior Abby Casper, who makes a transition from shooting guard to point guard. She averaged 9.2 points and 3.7 steals last season to earn all-district and second team all-conference honors.

Alongside Casper in the backcourt is senior Jaydin Ramsey, an honorable mention all-conference selection last year. Ramsey hit three 3-pointers and scored 18 points in the Lady Tigers’ season-opening 48-46 loss Saturday to Fordland.

Moore said seniors Stephani Crewse and Emily Shea will both start at times on the wing opposite Ramsey. Shea can also play on the interior when needed.

Three juniors –– Chloe Hunninghake, Sevanna Rowland and Carly Crawford –– provide backcourt depth off the bench. Rowland is the backup point guard and Hunninghake is one of the team’s top perimeter shooters.

Senior Jaycee Huff will also figure into the guard mix when she returns from a concussion she suffered in the first practice of the season.

In the frontcourt, junior Kaitlyn Root returns as a starter at power forward. She’ll start alongside senior center Alyssa Hayes. They will be backed up by sophomore Ally Morgan.

Moore believes depth will be one of his team’s strengths.

“We’re going to play a lot of girls and with our system that way it is, we’ll need that,” Moore said. “If these girls will commit to play as hard as they can, three or four minutes is all they’ll be able to play at a time.”

Moore said his players –– who were part of last year’s 21-8 team that advanced to sectionals –– expect to duplicate last year’s success.

“I expect to be in position to have a chance to win a championship,” he said. “We want to compete for a conference championship and put ourselves in position to repeat in districts.

“They believe they could win a sectional game, go to quarterfinals and maybe even higher than that. If you’re not thinking that way, then why are you playing the game? They understand they are high goals and what it will take to reach them.”

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