It’s amazing to me how much girls’ high school basketball has evolved since I first started writing about the sport in 1981. But actually my interest in the game started back when I was in high school at Smith-Cotton and my friend Dave Backer was the head coach.
The sport was established at S-C in 1976 to give Kathy Anderson a chance to play high school ball her senior year. Sharron Rustman was the first head coach at S-C but Anderson really did most of the coaching.
I believe Backer took over the team in 1978 and guided the Lady Tigers to the district title and sectional appearance at Hickman High School in Columbia. Remember that Lady Tiger team? I do: Barb (Berry) Knight, whose daughter Abby is a sophomore starter for the current Lady Tiger team); Carla (Coble) Baldwin, Judy Curd, Sandi Sims and Lisa Carter. That was a great team and thee were fun to be around.
Getting back to my original point, when the game first started around here, the play was so mechanical and slow. Players had to stop and contemplate each pass and shot they took. Scores were low, turnovers were way too high to count, fundamentals were sorely lacking.
Had you been at the Smith-Cotton Lady Tiger McDonald’s Classic last weekend, you would have laughed at me for saying these things.
In the modern game, the girls play an up tempo style, running up and down the floor with precision, running multiple offenses and defenses. The ball-handling is much improved. Girls shoot the ball the way they are supposed to.
It’s a fun game to watch for the most part. Now, yes there are some games that are like watching paint dry, but there are not near as many as there were back in the early days of the game.
The Lady Tiger Classic last weekend was probably the best one the school has ever hosted. There were eight teams, with third-ranked Nixa winning the title over eighth-ranked Hickman. A very good Springfield Parkview team took third over Rolla. S-C won two of their three games and won the consolation.
I made all 12 games in the tourney, and then had to come home late at night and write until the early morning hours. Back in my early days, that pace would not have fazed me. But by Saturday morning, I was exhausted.
I even laid down in the bleachers at Smith-Cotton and took a short nap. I kept nodding off during the games and when I walked around, I probably looked like a zombie. But I wanted to be there for the kids.
I was there for eight of the 12 games in the S-C Boys Classic.
I like to count the games I have attended each year. After Saturday’s four games, I have been to 60 games this season.
I made 79 the season before, then 131 and 148.
I really like S-C Coaches Ray Hughes and Zach Vandevender. They are two really nice gentlemen. My best regards to our school district for hiring them.
The Kaysinger Conference Tournament starts this weekend at State Fair Community College.
I will pick either Cole Camp or Sacred Heart to win the boys title with Green Ridge as a dark horse. I will pick Cole Camp or Green Ridge to win the girls title.