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Indians reload for the repeat
If the Jackson girls basketball team is going to bring home its second straight HealthSouth Holiday Classic on Monday, it will have to do so with an almost entirely different lineup.
Jackson lost four starters from a group which won the program's first HealthSouth tournament since the inaugural event in 1996.
With a group led by senior point guard Kelly Loos and juniors Bobbie Jones and Kylie Werner, the Indians have not had many problems showing they're up to the task early on this season.
"We're pretty young, basically a whole new team from last year, so I didn't know what we'd be like," Jackson coach Sam Sides said.
The Indians (7-0) already have brought home championship trophies from the Zizzer Classic and the Farmington Tournament.
They enter the ninth HealthSouth Holiday Classic, which is scheduled for today, Friday and Monday at the Show Me Center, with the top seed.
Farmington, last year's runner-up, is seeded second, followed by Sparta (Ill.) and Dexter.
Sides said that his team probably is not the best in the area at any one aspect of the game, but they always play hard.
"I think we play as hard as anyone around," he said. "I take a lot of pride in that."
Jones, the lone returning starter for the Indians, has helped to carry the offense so far this season. After playing a more important role on the defensive end in her first two years on the varsity, Jones is being counted on to provide a scoring threat for the Indians.
"Bobbie is a tough girl to match up with," Sides said.
Jones is not the only threat for Jackson on offense. Loos has scored in double figures several times this season, providing an option from outside. Werner also has reached double figures several times this season, and sophomore Amanda Peiffer put up 11 against Perryville.
"So far, someone's picked us up when we needed it, and that's what teamwork's all about," Sides said.
Jackson will open the tournament today with a familiar opponent. The Indians will clash with eighth seed Central at 4 p.m. in the tournament opener. The rivals met in first round last season, with Jackson downing the Tigers 43-27.
Notre Dame is seeded sixth in the event after a 1-2 showing at the Farmington Tournament. The Bulldogs feature a young squad with juniors Allison and Amanda Toole and sophomores Kristain Burger, Merideth Medling and Miranda Schlosser occupying key roles in the rotation.
Notre Dame comes into the tournament with a 2-3 overall record, having lost a 69-68 decision to seventh-seeded Perryville in its last outing last week.
Perryville is 3-1 heading into the tournament, with its only loss coming to Jackson.
Notre Dame will face Sparta at 8:30 tonight, while Perryville takes on Farmington at 7. The other opening round game pits Dexter against tournament newcomer Massac County (Ill.) at 5:30 p.m.
Jackson is the defending champ and the No. 1 seed, but Sides does not expect his team to be handed the title.
"I expect several teams to come for it," he said. "That seed doesn't mean a whole lot; you still have to play."