The Eads Girls’ Basketball program is looking to take a big step forward in the competitive world of girls’ 1A basketball as they return all five starters to a team that, by the end of the season, ended up in the Regional championship game. Unfortunately, because of their early season losses, they ended up seeded in the Briggsdale region where the Lady Eagles would lose to the eventual state champions, 57-25.
Head coach Trey Eder, who is in his 15th season as the girls’ head coach, is excited with his crop of players this year. After a 12-12 season record a year ago, and a disappointing 1-4 league record in the Hi-Plains League, his young team has now matured and is ready to bring it up a few more notches.
“We have lots of young, talented returners. We’re still lacking that upperclassman experience, for the most part, but even though they are young they have tons of game experience as they all started a some point last year.”
Eder will be looking to build off the five returning starters including one senior, a junior, and three sophomores. Tailee Weeks-Johnson, a strong sophomore guard/forward, led Eads last season by averaging 9.9 points per game. She also contributed 6 rebounds each outing and 3.6 steals per game.
Alessandra Paez, a junior guard, is a strong defensive player and took up much of the point guard services a year ago. She’ll have to run the ball a lot this year. Paez averaged 5.0 points per game and had 4.6 rebounds. She also added 2.4 steals and 1.5 assists per outing.
Lexi Shotton, a rough and aggressive sophomore guard/forward, returns and will lead Eads on defense. She managed to score 5.0 points per game a year ago, pulled down 2.2 rebounds each outing, took 2.2 steals per game, and distributed 1.4 assists.
The only senior on the team, Madison McDowell, will bring her extensive services to the court for Eads. McDowell can shoot the three, can help bring up the ball, and can also rebound well. She averaged 4.3 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game a year ago.
Kara Wilson is a long, 5’9 sophomore forward who improved exponentially during her freshman campaign. She would eventually earn a starting spot and averaged 4.3 points per game, 2.4 rebounds per game, and grabbed 1.5 steals each outing.
Eads is also pleased to have Landri Tuttle, a 5’8 junior, transfer onto the team this year when her family moved back to Kiowa County.
The team rounds out with four freshmen who are coming off an Eads middle school team that went undefeated last year. They include Anna Wollert (strong forward/center); Bailey Sierra (guard/forward); Kennedy Gyurman (strong forward/center); and Savanna Brown (forward).
Eder believes their strength this year will come from their size. “We will have to be strong on defense and try to use some of our length that we have this year to our advantage.”
But, with their inexperience, Eder knows it will take some time to get to the level they need to play at. “We have to immediately have good play and overall effective offensive play for us to win.”
As with the rest of the league, Eder sees McClave as their biggest challenge, “McClave will definitely be the front runner again this year, but our league, I think, will be strong overall once again.”
The Lady Eagles are finally, after a full fall season of being on the road as the gym floor in Eads was being rebuilt, will be at Home Sweet Home on December 1 when they welcome the Hi-Plains Lady Patriots for the home and season opener. Then, the week of December 5-9, the Eads girls will be in the Border Wars in Kansas for three separate nights of tournament play. Finally, they are excited to get back to the Lamar Holiday Basketball Tournament on December 14, 15, 16.
In the meantime, Eder and his Lady Eagles are excited about how far they can get this year. “We’re definitely looking to build upon what we did last year making the finals of Regionals and hopefully make that jump to the state tournament.”