"Jim is a great supporter of our team and we are privileged to host this classic in his honor," FSCC head women's basketball coach Diana Couch said. "To this day you will find Jim on the sidelines during practice, helping encourage our young women. We are very fortunate to have his support."
Crowder (Mo.), Southwestern Iowa and Independence are the other teams in the classic. Fort Scott plays Crowder at 8 p.m. Friday night and Southwestern Iowa at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Sophomores Jolee Sharp (5' 9", Fort Scott) and Ashlie Baker (5' 9", Tulsa, Okla.) are the only returning players from last year's 9-22 squad that finished seventh in the Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division. Sharp averaged 12.7 points per game and led the conference in steals with 4.1 per game. She also averaged 7.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
"We've built our team around her," Couch says. "We've tried to find players that will allow her to expand her game. Last year, she had to play point guard. This year, we have three point guards, so we've been able to free Jolee up to expand her game and let her game come to her. Last year, she had to force a lot of things. This year, we're just going to let her play."
Couch said that the coaches are looking to change up Baker's game.
"I think everybody knows what to expect and we keep telling her that," Couch said. :So she's been working hard to work more from the perimeter and not just be a driver."
A third sophomore is a transfer from the junior college in Florida that Couch played for, Jataeva Arnold (6' 1", Titusville, Fla.). Arnold's mother was Couch's high-school teammate. Arnold did not get much playing time last season and is shaking off some rust. But Couch says she's able to both post up and hit the 3-pointer, which post players have to be able to do in her offense.
Another Fort Scott High graduate, Megan McDermed (5' 7", Fr.) is one of team's 10 freshmen. McDermed joined the team late after her high school coach, Jeff Armstrong, called Couch to ask if she would be interested in her. Coach had been looking at McDermed last season but had been told she was going to another school for track.
"She's been a workhorse, just like she was in high school," Couch said. "She gets things done. She finishes strong and she comes into every day focused. You can tell how much she loves the game every time she steps on the floor."
Kate Atherton (5' 10", Fr., Sydney, Australia) will be one of the point guards. She was brought in as a forward and Coach was looking to move her to shooting (2) guard.
"As time got closer to the season, she said. 'Coach, I want you to know, I ran the point in Australia and I really want to run the point,'" Couch recalled. "I was excited to hear that, so we gave it a shot and she's been doing a tremendous job. Very calm and precise in what she wants to do. She's been very mature at that point guard spot."
Jamisha Crawford (5' 0", Fr., Kansas City-Washington) is another point guard. Couch compares her to former FSCC guard Shadara Hampton, saying she is a spark plug who could go in when the 'Hounds need to run and gun. Cheianne Ivy (5' 5", Fr., Coweta, Okla.) is also a point and one of three left-handed players on the roster.
"(Ivy) loves the assist," Couch says. "She's always looking to get the assist. Can also hit the three from deep. She's kind of the overall package for us."
Brittany Pearl (5'6", Fr., St. Marys), Erica Smith (5' 9", Fr., Bonner Springs), and Hannah Bradley (5' 5", Fr., Chulutoa, Fla.) are the Greyhounds' shooting guards. Couch says Smith can pull up on a dime and hit shots but can also go inside. Bradley played a different kind of game in Florida and is learning to become a shooter.
Sharp, Baker, McDermed, Erika McKenzie (5' 9", Fr., Lehigh Acres, Fla.), Kelsa Noeller (5' 11", Fr., Neodesha) and Burgandie Lewis (5' 9", Fr., Leavenworth) are listed as forwards. McKenzie was a late pickup but is developing into a leader. Noeller and Lewis are the other lefties, which Couch feels can open up more plays.
The 'Hounds were picked to finish eighth in the East in the pre-season pool, which Couch says she's "comfortable" with though she thinks the team will finish higher.
We have a great bunch of kids who love the game," Couch says. "Nothing is worse than going to a basketball game and seeing players who look like they want the game over or if some adversity comes in front of them, they back down. These ladies are challenged in practice. If I don't make it competitive, they get bored. They love competition. They will dive out of bounds for the ball. They're going to be the ones that will have the X-factor, the one that has to do with heart."