(Kennt Felt/Exclusive to the Tribune)
But suspensions and injuries have forced first-year head coach Katie Reihmann to just about build her team from scratch again. And a team that's getting used to a completely different dynamic lost its ninth consecutive game Thursday night, falling to Cottey College, 71-54, in a non-conference game.
Cottey came into the contest ranked No. 19 in the latest NJCAA Division II poll, the first appearance for the Comets this season.
Three players were suspended for a few games while one more is off the roster for good. One of those suspended players is now injured and in order to round out the roster, one volleyball player and two softball players joined the team. The Greyhounds used all eight players who dressed out in this game.
While the new players have been on the roster for nine games, they don't have the benefit of the pre-season practices and scrimmages the remaining original players had in September and October. And other players' roles have changed.
An example from the coach:
"Rebecca Fisher's been thrown into being the starting point guard," Reihmann said after the loss. "She's learning a lot as we go and as she learns, she'll get better. She needs more experience as fast as we can get it to her.
"After Christmas break, there will be a lot of re-gelling the team, getting them to work with each other a little better than they are right now."
Fisher has been with the team all season but became a starter when Cheianne Ivy was dismissed.
The Greyhounds made only 6 field goals in the first half on 26 shots as they fell behind 31-18. Although they shot better in the second half, they finished 18 for 55 for 33 percent.
"You can't win games when you're only making 18 shots a game," Reihmann said.
Cottey (8-0) held a 14-5 lead after eight minutes, using its quickness to force turnovers and score in transition.
The 'Hounds got back within 10 points, 41-31, when D'Shawna Lee scored a layup with 14:05 left in the second half. But Dayna Turnbull, who had been quiet in the first half, popped her first field goal of the game, a 3-point shot that sparked an 8-1 run.
Erika McKenzie led the Greyhounds with 12 points while Malori Gales followed with 11, all in the second half.
Blaklee Skaggs led the Comets with 28 points and 10 rebounds, going 11 of 12 at the free-throw line. Turnbull scored 11 of her 12 points in the second half while also picking up 3 steals and 5 assists. Petra Stankovic made 4 of 6 field-goal tries as she finished with 10 points.
Cottey shot 44 percent from the field on 23 of 52 and also made 20 of 24 free throws. Fort Scott made 13 of its 16 charity tosses.
The Comets outrebounded the Greyhoounds, 41-32. Burgandie Lewis led Fort Scott with 13 boards.
Gales and McKenzie each haded out 3 assists for the 'Hounds and McKenzie picked up 2 steals.
Fort Scott will not play again until January 5 at Coffeyville in a Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division contest.
COTTEY: Rowland 0-2 0-0 0, Ingles 1-4 4-4 6, Gochenour 0-1 0-0 0, Hale 1-1 0-0 2, Stankovic 4-6 2-2 10, Turnbull 4-9 2-4 12, Zumalt 2-4 1-2 7, Braden 3-7 0-0 6, Sanders 8-18 11-12 28. TOTALS: 23-52 20-24 71.
FORT SCOTT: Horn 1-3 0-0 3, Fisher 3-8 0-0 8, Zimmerman 0-0 0-0 0, Gales 3-13 4-4 11, McKenzie 5-13 1-2 12, Aller 1-2 2-2 4, Lee 3-9 3-4 9, Lewis 2-6 3-4 7. TOTALS: 18-55 13-16 54.
Halftime: Cottey, 31-18.
Three-point field goals: Cottey 5-13 (Zumalt 2-3, Turnbull 2-6, Sanders 1-2, Ingles 0-1, Stankovic 0-1), Fort Scott 5-21 (Fisher 2-7, Horn 1-3, McKenzie 1-4, Gales 1-7).
Total fouls: Cottey 14, Fort Scott 17. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: none.
Rebounds: Cottey 41 (Sanders 10), Fort Scott 32 (Lewis 13). Assists: Cottey 13 (Turnbull 5), Fort Scott 10 (Gales 3, McKenzie 3). Turnovers: Cottey 14, Fort Scott 16. Steals: Cottey 8 (Turnbull 3), Fort Scott 5 (McKenzie 2). Blocked shots: Cottey 4 (Braden 3). Fort Scott 2 (McKenzie, Lee).