The Boonville Lady Pirates basketball team had the motto of “Unfinished Business” in 2016-17.
While the Lady Pirates still made the postseason and finished 24-3 overall and 12-0 in the NCMC, a loss in the sectional round of the state playoffs against Kansas City Southeast was unexpected to say the least.
Fast forward to the 2017-18 season. With 20 girls suited out for the upcoming season, head coach Jaryt Hunziker welcomed back four starters and three letterwinners.
“We are very excited about the upcoming season since we have four starters back from last year’s sectional team that went 24-3,” Hunziker said. “We have three returning letterwinners along with a handful of freshmen that should help with our depth this year. Our schedule is very competitive again so we will need to continue to commit to the defensive end in order to have another successful season. The Centralia Tournament will be even more competitive this year since most teams are bringing back the core players of their programs. The California Tournament got tougher with the additions of St. James and Helias to the already talented pool of teams. Our non-conference schedule might be the toughest around, which includes California, Southern Boone, Helias, Chillicothe and Bowling Green.”
Finishing the conference season unbeaten last year will no doubt leave a bull’s-eye on Boonville’s back this season. While jumping to the Tri-County Conference in 2018-19, Hunziker said it would be very fitting to go out winning their fifth consecutive title.
“With that said, the conference is going to be the most competitive it has been in years,” Hunziker said. “Be aware of teams such as Marshall, Mexico and Moberly as they bring back the nucleus of their teams and many returning all-conference players. The top teams can’t look past Kirksville, Fulton and Hannibal, either, since they were filled with many young players that I’m sure have developed over the past year to help their teams improve.”
With four starters back from last year’s team and many reserves, Hunziker said that will be a huge advantage. He said these girls having been a huge part of the Lady Pirate program over the last 3-4 years now know what it takes to win ballgames with their hard work on the court.
“Depth should not be an issued as we can play up to 8-10 girls a night if we need to,” Hunziker said. “This will allow us to pressure more throughout the game and let players have some rest. We also have a good balance of inside and outside threats.”
With so much back from last year’s team and a talented freshmen class coming in, Hunziker said when you talk about playing multiple freshman there will be some mistakes made early in the season that will improve as they gain confidence.
“I think these girls will mature fast and look like different players as the season continues on as they develop,” Hunziker said.
Hunziker also has a theory when it comes to team goals. While it’s hardly ever discussed, Hunziker said team instead concentrates on getting better every day in practice by working hard and playing together.
“We know we will have a chance to win games if we do those things,” Hunziker said. “With that being said I’m sure that winning a fifth consecutive NCMC and district title would be nice even though we don’t discuss it that often. We do focus on being the best defensive team that we can be. We are usually known for our defensive style of play so we want to make sure we give full effort on that end of the court.”
The Lady Pirates would also like to have another chance at sectionals this season. As a team, Hunziker said, the girls know that last year was last year and this year will bring new challenges along the way.
Returning to the fold this season for the Lady Pirates are 5’-11” senior guard/forward Brynn Edwards, 5’-5” senior guard Camryn Monteer, 5’-10” senior guard/forward Kate Peterson and 5’-10” junior center Jamie Lemmons.
Edwards, a all-conference, all-district selection last season for the Lady Pirates, returns after averaging 11.9 ppg along with 3.5 spg, 2.8 rpg and 2.1 apg. Edwards also led the team at the free throw line by hitting 75 percent of her shots.
Hunziker said Edwards will be a huge factor on defense since she can play multiple positions and has a long wing span, which is key.
“Offensively she can play both inside and out and has the ability to be a scorer on any night. “She does a great job of attacking the rim off the dribble but is very unselfish and will find the open teammate as well.”
Monteer also returns for the Lady Pirates. While averaging 10.6 ppg last year, Monteer also finished the season at 2.6 spg, 1.8 apg and 1.6 rpg.
Hunziker said Monteer quickly developed into one of the best perimeter shooters in our conference last year. “With the graduation of outside threat Hannah Fuemmeler, we will look to Camryn even more to get us going from behind the arc,” Hunziker said. “Camryn is one of those defenders that loves to apply uncomfortable pressure on the opponent which gives us the ability to get steals and deflections. Camryn is a great vocal leader on and off the court and is another player that earned all-conference and all-district  last year.”
While Edwards and Monteer combined for over 21 ppg last year, Peterson is the type of player that does the dirty work for the Lady Pirates with rebounds and grabbing loose balls on the floor.
In 26 games last year, Peterson averaged 2.9 ppg along with 4.2 rpg, 2.3 spg and 2.3 apg.
“Kate has the ability to play multiple positions for us on both ends of the court since she is very athletic and versatile,” Hunziker said. “Kate will give us another player on defense that plays aggressive and will help cause problems for the opponents. We are hoping that the energy she provides on defense become contagious to all. Kate put in many hours over the off season to improve on her offensive skills and has become more confident in her game by doing so.”
Lemmons will also pose a threat on the inside this season for the Lady Pirates. While leading the team in both scoring and rebounding last season at 16.0 ppg and 8.0 rpg, Lemmons also averaged 2.1 spg and 1.0 apg while shooting 46 percent from the field.
Hunziker said Lemmons was recognized as a sophomore as one of the top posts around by receiving many postseason honors, including all-conference, all-district, KMZU Dream Team and KRES All-Star Team.
“She gives us a huge target to throw the ball inside to where she uses her body well to get position in the post to score,” Hunziker said. “Jamie is also a great passer from the post and plays very smart. She knows when she draws help defenders that her teammates will open to pass to. Jamie greatly improved her free throw percentage last season which was key for us on the offensive end throughout the season. Jamie is only a couple hundred points away from scoring her 1,000 point.”
Other players that will contribute this season are 5’-3” junior guard Jalyn Schnetzler, 5’-9” junior forward Maddie Lenz and Lawren Luscombe and freshmen Jodie Bass, Kennedy Renfrow, Hana Cook, Sophi Waibel and Brooke Eichelberger.
Schnetzler, Lenz and Luscombe all saw action on the varsity team last year in a limited role. Hunziker said Schnetzler will give the Lady Pirates another ballhandler on the offensive end that can distribute the ball when needed while both Lenz and Luscombe are almost identical when it comes to their abilities.
“Jalyn uses her speed well and we are hoping she can get out into the open floor often to score,” Hunziker said. “On defense, we are wanting her to cause problems by being as aggressive as she can be by making the opposing guards uncomfortable. As for Madison and Lawren, they both can play inside and outside for us when needed. On defense they can defend at every position. They have some length which can cause the opposing teams problems when it comes to making certain reads. Offensively, Maddie and Lawren both have a nice touch from the mid-range but have the ability to step out and knock down the outside shot from behind the arc.”
As for the Fab Five, or freshmen class, Hunziker said the future looks very bright with a freshmen class of 10 that work very hard and have a head start of understanding the game.
“We are looking for them to play their role on the team and to keep developing over the season,” Hunziker said. “Jodie will  help handle the ball for us on offense and has the ability to breakdown defenses by taking them off the dribble. Both Jodie and Kennedy will help with our outside shooting as they continue to become more consistent from the perimeter. They play smart and do a good job of getting the ball to our scorers when open even though they have the ability to score themselves.
“Hana gives us another big body inside that plays physical on both ends. She has to continue to work hard on her footwork and getting position inside along with finishing. Hana has a knack of getting to the ball and becoming a good rebounder for us. Both Sophi and Brooke will see time on the JV as well for us. They are both athletic which not only helps us offensively but on defense as well. We need the freshmen to continue to grow over the next few months so by the end of the season we are hitting our stride come district time. We are expecting bigger things from these girls as the season goes on.”