Despite a 7-18 finish for the 2012-13 season, Boonville Lady Pirates basketball coach Jaryt Hunziker said he saw significant progress from the summer until now.
Although the record may not show it, or the fact that Boonville also finished 2-10 in the NCMC, Hunziker said he kept telling the players to focus more on the process and not the end result.
“If we keep improving on fundamentals on a daily basis and keep the right attitude and work ethic then wins will eventually come,” Hunziker said. “We had many games come down to a possession or two but we just didn’t capitalize on them. I know those games will make us better in the future since we now know the importance of every possession.”
As one of the youngest teams in the conference while starting one freshman, three sophomores and  one junior, the Lady Pirates still managed bring home two pieces of hardware this past season from the Eugene and Centralia Tournament and were three points away from a third in the California Tournament.
But while playing one of the toughest schedules in the area against mostly Class 4 schools, Hunziker said the girls realized that they had to bring their A game in order to not only win but compete.
“When your lacking in areas like shooting, ballhandling and toughness you are going to struggle until those areas get better,” Hunziker said. We have to get better all around. If players don’t make themselves better in the offseason then we will be back to the same thing we were this season. Everyone has to be dedicated in doing this to make a change. Many of the teams we play are losing key players but still have many pieces coming back. It comes down to which teams will outwork the others and improves from now until then. However, we have the opportunity to be much better.”
With all five starters back next year, the Lady Pirates could also make a push for the NCMC title. Of course Boonville will have to do better than the two wins this season, which ranked dead last in the conference.
Hunziker said he felt like the team competed in almost every conference game this season.
“Many of our losses came by five points or less,” Hunziker said. “We just have to be able to close out games when given the opportunity. That is something I know we will be better at next season due to the experience of this year.”
Hunziker said he also saw the conference as very competitive this season. With the Kirksville still playing in the postseason, Hunziker said Lady Tigers were pretty much heads above everyone else.
“They had senior leadership along with girls who were definitely skilled at their positions,” Hunziker said. “We knew we could compete with any conference team but we had to show up for four quarters, that’s how strong the conference was. The NCMC is probably one of the strongest conferences around. Something we need to improve on is our shooting ability, especially from behind the arc. One thing about all the other NCMC teams is that they have multiple shooters on the court which can cause problems for a defense. We need to get to that level where we have multiple scoring threats all over the court.”
While averaging just over 45.0 ppg for the season, the Lady Pirates will also have to show major improvement in the areas of shooting, rebounding and ballhandling. As a team, Boonville made only 465 of 1,185 shots from the field for 39 percent while hitting just 35 of 177 shots from the three-point arc for 19 percent. The Lady Pirates also struggled at the free-throw line at times while making just 180 of 311 attempts for 58 percent.
Opponents also dominated the boards against Boonville while holding the Lady Pirates to 677 rebounds for an average of 27.1 rpg. Turnovers were also a problem for Boonville this season. In 25 games, the Lady Pirates had 415 turnovers for an average of 16.6 turnovers per game.
On the plus side, Boonville averaged 13.8 steals per game, 12.1 assists per game and 3.6 blocks per game.
But even while struggling to score at times this season, Hunziker said the girls never lost focus and kept working knowing that they were competing every night.
“I felt that if we could have pulled off a couple of those losses we could have gotten over the hump and on a roll,” Hunziker said. “We just aren’t there yet. We are getting closer, it just takes time to improve on fundamentals. It doesn’t happen over night. We are going to have open gyms and play in several shootouts and camps this summer, but the team has to dedicate their time to getting better not only individually but as a whole. However, I would love to see the program towards the top of the NCMC on a constant basis along with being a team that people know will work hard and bring it each night.”
The good news is that with all five starters back for the 2013-14 season, the Lady Pirates will also return their leading scorer and rebounder back as well in sophomore Morgan Edwards. While leading the team with an average of 14.2 ppg, Edwards also ranked first in rebounds with 7.2 rpg, shooting percentage at 49 percent and free-throw percentage at 67 percent. Sophomore Olivia Imhoff also returns for the Lady Pirates after leading the team with 70 assists for an average of 2.8 apg and 89 steals for 3.6 spg.