2017 Royal Valley Girls Basketball Preview
By Ali Holcomb
After serving as assistant coach for four years, Kyle Porter is now leading the Royal Valley Lady Panthers high school basketball team.
Coach Porter is taking over for coach Corey Katzer, who will continue at RVHS as the head girls softball coach.
With many returning starters, coach Porter said creating a chemistry between new and returning players will be one of the keys to a successful season.
“If this team can buy-in and compete to improve as players and teammates on a daily basis, they could be one of the biggest surprises in the state of Kansas this year,” Porter said.
The team ended its season 6-10 in the Big Seven League and 7-14 overall. The team fell in the first round of Class 3A sub-state competition.
The team has three returning starters, seniors Marlissa Jordan and Bella Thompson and junior Mary Broxterman.
At 5’11”, Broxterman was fifth in scoring last year in the Big Seven League averaging 11.33 points per game, as well as seven rebounds per game.
“She’s a tall and athletic post player and a tough match-up,” Porter said.
Porter called Thompson the most improved player last season.
“She’s a versatile player,” he said. “She’s athletic and comfortable playing both inside and out.”
Porter said Jordan is a “spot shooter,” who stepped up when asked to do a lot as a junior last year.
In addition, sisters Tamo Thomas, senior, and Kiikto Thomas, junior, have transferred back to Royal Valley this year after attending Lawrence High School last year.
As a sophomore at RVHS, Tamo was a unanimous Big Seven all-league guard, averaging 14.2 points and 2.7 steals per game.
“She has a chance to become one of the best players in the league and potentially in the state,” Porter said.
Other notable players include sophomore guard Kenzie Ogden, senior forward Danielle Stithem, junior guard Keanue Shopteese and junior guard Emily Albright.
“Emily was our best overall on-ball defender last year,” Porter said. “She brings tenacity, toughness and depth to the team.”
Senior Kylie Moore is also returning to the team after she was injured last season.
To be successful, Porter says it’s important for the returners and the transfers “to mesh” and to handle adversity well.
Offensively, Porter said he wants the team to focus on pushing the pace in transitions to generate easy baskets and wear other teams down.
“We want to execute in the half court and play inside-out,” he said.
Defensively, Porter want his team to “contain and contest” and force shots away from the basket.
“We need to win the rebounding war,” he said.
He said his team’s strengths are its varsity experience, depth and its balanced offensive attack.
“We have a plethora of scoring options,” he said.
The Panthers will open their season Friday on the road in Hiawatha. Games begin at 6 p.m.