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GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEW: Lady Wildcats will have new look in 2022-23

Sand Rock’s Katelyn StClair spots up for a 3-pointer against Fyffe. File photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

SAND ROCK – The 2022-23 Sand Rock Lady Wildcat basketball team will look a lot different than last year. That’s because Sand Rock graduated six seniors from last season’s 27-6 squad.

But a new look doesn’t mean the expectations have changed.

“We still have high expectations,” said head coach Lisa Bates, now in her 23rd season. “We’re not going to have a down year or a rebuilding year. We’re going to be expecting to win. We’ve just got to figure out who can do what to help us get there.”

It’s not as if the cupboard is completely bare for Sand Rock. Leading scorer Katelyn StClair returns for her junior year after averaging 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists last season, but a lot of new pieces to the puzzle are surrounding her.

“I was kind of scared because we did lose four starters, but after the summer I’m feeling way more hopeful for this season than I was before,” StClair said.

The Lady Wildcats have one senior, eight juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen.

Bates feels like one of the complimenting pieces to the puzzle is junior forward Zoey Handy. She feels like Handy is “going to surprise a lot of people this year.”

“She really loves this game and really works at it,” Bates said. “She has a jump shot like a boy. That’s hard to find in a girl. She’s really talented and we expect a lot out of her.”

At the post position is junior Kennedy Henderson. Henderson started a few games for Sand Rock last season.

“We’re going to be expecting a lot from her inside,” Bates said. “She’s got a nose for the ball like a magnet as far as rebounding.”

Sisters Jacey and Chloe Stephens join StClair as guards. Jacey Stephens is a senior and Chloe Stephens is a junior. Senior Sherina Foster is a newcomer to the Lady Wildcat lineup.

Juniors Amber Day, Lydia East and Allie Stansell, sophomore Aliyah King, and freshmen Megan Smith and Macey Pruitt are also expected to see some playing time for Sand Rock.

“It’s going to be interesting trying to figure out who we are,” Bates said.

In an attempt to find out who they are, Bates scheduled numerous play dates during the summer to get a better feel of who could do what.

“That’s what we needed this year, playing as much as possible, just to try and get in the flow and see who was going to do what for us,” she said. “We’re going to have different roles. That’s going to be the major thing. People who were just role players last year and came off the bench, now we’re depending on them a lot more to do different things and be producing some offense for us.

“These girls are going to learn how to handle in-the-game situations and handle pressure. They haven’t been in that in a tight game with a minute left, so we’ve got to learn who’s our go-to in that situation and what their role is to help us be successful.”

Sand Rock competes in Class 2A, Area 12 along with Collinsville, Fyffe and Gaston. The Lady Wildcats open the season on Tuesday at home against DAR.

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