Believing in the process. That’s what Boonville Lady Pirates basketball coach Jaryt Hunziker tried to instill into his players after closing out the 2012-13 season at 7-18 overall.
While returning four out of five starters off of the 2012-13 team, Hunziker said after having a successful summer and great team chemistry that this season could be a lot different.
He was right. Not only did the Lady Pirates improve by 18 games this season at 25-4 overall, they also captured the conference title at 11-1.
“We gained a lot of confidence over the summer playing good competition and playing well together,” Hunziker said. “We are not a goal oriented team but one that believes in ‘The Process’. We know by working hard each day, being great teammates, and holding each other accountable that results would come. It was a very special season playing in three tournament championships, winning the Eugene Tournament,  winning the NCMC, District, 25 games and playing in Sectionals.”
The Lady Pirates also improved twofold in the conference this season going from two wins in 2012-13 to 11 wins this season.
Hunziker said besides Boonville and Mexico most of the other teams were pretty even.
“Now with that said, I always felt like any of the other teams could beat us on any night if we didn’t come focused and play well,” Hunziker said. “Besides Kirksville, most of the teams were bringing back key players from the 2012-13 season. There were many all-conference players that returned also. Kirksville took the biggest hit when it graduated all five starters from last season but did bring back their reserves. It should be very competitive again next season when many teams reload again.”
The Lady Pirates also had several highlights this season. Hunziker said going from last place to first place would stick out because it was the first NCMC basketball title since joining the conference in 2008. The last game of the regular season against the Jeff City Helias Crusaders, Hunziker said, also stands because it gave the team confidence and momentum going into districts and eventually winning it.
“The girls loved the experience playing in front of bigger crowds and seeing the community support that followed,” Hunziker said. “We were all very grateful.”
Although the losses were few and in-between, Hunziker said the low points had to be their performances in their four losses to North Callaway, Jeff City, Marshall and Palmyra.
“We knew we didn’t play as well as we could or needed to in order to win,” Hunziker said. “I believe that some of those losses did get us re-focused for upcoming games that we did win.”
The first loss for the Lady Pirates came in the championship in the Centralia Tournament against North Callaway 57-39. The second loss, meanwhile, came six games later against Jeff City in the championship in the California Tournament by a score of 47-19. Then, after putting together another six game win streak, Boonville dropped its third game against the Marshall Lady Owls,  a team they had defeated earlier at home, by a score of 55-34. Unfortunately for Boonville, the fourth loss came in the sectional round of the state playoffs against the Palmyra Lady Panthers 49-45.
While finishing the season with 1,624 points for an average of 56 ppg, Hunziker said his team could have been much better if they could have finished out the possession by dominating on the defensive boards.
“All season that was one of our biggest weaknesses,” Hunziker said. “It seemed it didn’t matter how much we stressed it, practiced it, held everyone accountable, we still didn’t rebound like we were capable of. If we can improve on rebounding for next season watch out because our defense will be that much better. Free throw shooting was another problem we encountered. We have to be able to step to the line and have the confidence to knock down key free throws throughout the game. Free throws not only can win you games but can extend the lead throughout a game or get you back into it if you fall behind.”
For the season, the Lady Pirates hit on 253 of 429 shots from the foul line for 59 percent. Meanwhile, on the defensive side, Boonville held opponents to 1,189 points for average of 41 ppg.
On the flip side, Hunziker said in 2012-13 when he took over the program it seemed that most of the team was more worried about how many points the team could score compared to how many they could hold a team to.
“As a whole I believe we came together this season and became a defensive minded team,” Hunziker said. “Improving our rebounding will just make us that much better. The team knew that deep down our defense could easily be our best offense due to the opportunities we could have to score from turnovers and steals. We have a great team chemistry and I believe that had a lot to do with our success this year. We do a great job of sharing the ball and being unselfish.”
The future also looks bright for the Lady Pirates with four starters back in 2014-15. However, Hunziker said everyone knows that next season is a new one and that anything can happen.
“We also know that if we keep believing in ‘The Process’  and keep working hard we could see a lot of the same results as we did this year,” Hunziker said. “We have to be willing to find time on our own to make ourselves a better player. By having a lot of success this season should give everyone the motivation to improve themselves and the team. There are many teams out there that are eying the prize for next year and will be working hard to have the same success we did this year. I tell the girls don’t be satisfied and to work on fundamentals because you can never work enough on them to improve your game.”