BENTON, Mo. -- Put last season's 23-5 team and its district runner-up finish out of your memory.
Kelly girls' basketball coach Rod McQuerter already has.
"We're not talking about trying to repeat anything we did last season or any other goals like that," McQuerter said. "Our goal is to play hard and compete. That's it."
The Hawks return a big chunk of last year's team that lost to eventual Class 2 state champion Notre Dame in a one-sided district championship. Among the players back are four starters: Dana Essner (5-foot-7, sr.), who averaged 10 points, four rebounds, four steals and four assists a game; sophomore guard Kelly Essner (5-7), who averaged eight points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals; junior forward Ashley Kern (5-8); and senior forward Christy Kluesner (5-9), who averaged 11 points, five rebounds and four steals.
The Lady Hawks also return several players that had significant playing time last year: Cara Scherer (5-9, sr.), Julia Vetter (5-7, sr.), Natalie Scherer (5-7, sr.), Andrea Kluesner (5-9, sr.) and Monica Senciboy (5-7, jr.).
Sophomores Jessica Burnett (5-9) Rachel Kline (5-8), Michelle Collins (5-9) and Stephanie Hency (5-8) fill out the roster.
Kelly lost Alania Burford, Shannon Deshaney, Bridgett Riley and Ashley Payne to graduation. Last year the Lady Hawks were defeated by Notre Dame in the district championship game.
"We have a mixture of young girls and experience," McQuerter said. " The main thing right now is just teaching the girls the fundamentals, like how to psas, how to dribble, how to catch. Those are the things you have to learn before you learn an offense or defense. That's what we're focusing on."
Once the fundamentals are in place Kelly can concentrate on running a half-court defense. That aspect of the Hawks' game, McQuerter said, should develop the offensive side in time.
"We're stressing to do the fundamentals the right way and the rest will take care of itself," he said. "The girls' attitudes has been great. They're patient and we're patient. Everybody feels good about the season we had last year and the momentum coming off that, and that automatically makes things so much easier."
Last year's success may already have helped in another way this year: The school will have a freshman team this year for the first time.
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