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Lady Pirates aim for the stars with all five returners back in 2020-21

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

Boonville senior Kourtney Kendrick couldn’t hold back when referring to the 2020-21 Lady Pirates basketball team.

After finishing 22-4 overall and 7-0 in the Tri-County Conference last year, the Lady Pirates look to take that next step this season with all five starters returning under head coach Jaryt Hunziker.

Hunziker said during the pre-season team meeting the coaching staff emphasized the words “Be Ready” for this season. He said due to the unpredictability of this winter, players need to be ready to step up when needed, play without certain players if quarantined, and have games canceled on game day. 

“Having a season is a win for the team, the school and the Boonville community,” Hunziker said.

As for the 2019-20 season, Hunziker said it was very rewarding to the Lady Pirates even though they came up short in the district finals to Helias. He added that the Lady Pirates were able to achieve some worthwhile accomplishments, including a 7-0 record in a very competitive Tri-County Conference, third place finish in the conference tournament early in the year, a second place finish in the Southern Boone Tournament and a first place finish in the Centralia Tournament.

Kendrick said Lady Pirate basketball is a family and we are jumping at the bit to get back on the court together for one last year.

Senior Jodie Bass said she feels this season is going to be a special one, especially for the seniors and hope to make it a good one even with all the COVID going around.

Entering his 17th year of coaching-ninth at Boonville-Hunziker has definitely built a dynasty while sporting a record of 171-47. He is also 19 wins away from the 300 win mark in his career at 281-143.

The Lady Pirates will find out soon enough if they are pretenders or contenders as the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Tri-County Conference Tournament in Blair Oaks on November 30.

Needless to say, Boonville will have its hands full in the TCC with the likes of Southern Boone, California and Blair Oaks just to name a few.

Hunziker said you know the conference is going to be strong this season when 16 of the 19 players selected for all-conference last season are returning. 

“California and Southern Boone saw themselves ranked towards the top in Class 3 and continue to reload every season,” Hunziker said. “Blair Oaks and Hallsville are going to put themselves in the discussion for being towards the top of the conference due to having almost everyone back and having success last year. Osage, Eldon and Versailles will be much improved due to players coming back from injury and incoming players that should help them right away.”

Although the Lady Pirates had few faults last year, the one area that Coach Hunziker is looking for in improvement is free throw shooting. As a team in 2019-20, Boonville shot just 63 percent from the foul line. But even then it would be hard to find fault for a team that averaged 65 ppg along with 19 steals per game and 15 assists per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 32.4 from the arc. 

As for the returning starters, Hunziker will look to seniors Kourtney Kendrick, Jodie Bass, Kennedy Renfrow and Brooke Eichelberger and junior Addi Brownfield.

Kendrick, a 5-10 guard/forward, returns after receiving all-conference, all-district and KMZU Dream Team honors last year. While averaging 11.4 ppg along with 6.3 rpg, 3.4 spg and 2.8 spg, Hunziker said Kendrick is a scoring threat by having the ability to knock down shots from the outside but also posting up inside. “Defensively, she can guard any position on the floor and is a great rebounder who can go get the ball then lead the break,” Hunziker said. “She is an all around player for sure.”

Bass also returns after posting big numbers last year with 15.0 ppg along with 2.9 spg, 2.0 rpg and 2.0 apg. Bass will play the guard position.

Hunziker said Bass is a very athletic guard, who has the ability to score the basketball in many ways.

Bass also earned all-conference and all-district honors last year.

“Jodie uses her speed out in transition to cause problems but also had the ability to create off the dribble and score on the perimeter,” Hunziker said. “Defensively, she uses her speed and aggressiveness to disrupt the opposing team.”

As for Renfrow, she will be called on to do a number of things this season. While playing in all 26 games last year, Renfrow averaged 5.2 ppg along with 3.3 rpg, 2.3 spg and 2.1 apg.

Hunziker said Renfrow is one of the most valuable players because she uses her high basketball IQ to not only get herself open, but her teammates as well.

“She is a very unselfish player that has the ability to both set and reach screens better

than most. She definitely takes advantage of what the defense gives her. We are expecting her to step up her scoring this season by becoming another scorer defenses have to watch out for.”

The last of the seniors, Brooke Eichelberger, also played in 26 games last year at the forward position. While averaging 2.8 ppg along with 4.2 rpg, 1.6 spg and 1.0 apg,

Hunziker said Eichelberger uses her athleticism on both ends of the floor, especially her length. “Brooke can guard any position for us on defense and creates a lot of deflections and steals that allows the defense to become the offense,” Hunziker said. “Brooke knows her role on this team and plays it to perfection.”

The lone junior starter, Addi Brownfield, is probably the most heralded of the group after earning all-conference, all-district and all-state honors in a very competitive Class 4 group of athletes.

Brownfield also pretty much did it all last season for Boonville while leading the team in ppg at 15.5, apg at 3.6, spg at 3.6, field goal shooting at 51 percent, three-point shooting at 43 percent and free-throw shooting at 79 percent. She also finished second in rebound at 4.2 rpg. 

Hunziker said Brownfield is a natural scorer but also loves to make her teammates around her better by creating for them. “She is a vocal leader on the court and is always getting her teammates to raise their game,” Hunziker said. “She is the focal point of every team’s game plan.”

Other players that Coach Hunziker is counting on to come off the bench this season are juniors Emma West and Faith Mesik and sophomore Abby Fuemmeler. 

West appeared in 25 games last season for Boonville and averaged 3.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg and 1.4 spg.  Mesik, meanwhile, played in 21 games and averaged 1.4 ppg and 1.0 rpg off the bench. Fuemmeler saw action in 13 games.

Hunziker said West, who will play forward, has the ability to play both inside and outside for the program. “She definitely is a spark plug for us since she gives 100 percent all the time,” Hunziker said. “We are expecting Emma to have a bigger impact this season on both offense and defense. For only being 5-8, Emma plays more like she is 6-0 when out on the floor due to her work ethic.”

As for Mesik, Hunziker said Faith is a high energy player that comes in the game and just gives the team everything that she has. “Faith does a great job of being unselfish and creating to get her teammates open,” Hunziker said. “She uses her speed to her advantage on defense and in transition on offense.”

As for Fuemmeler, Hunziker said Abby has the ability to be an outside threat for the Lady Pirates this season. “She has made some great strides from last season as a freshman and we can’t wait to watch her develop even more this year,” Hunziker said. 

BOONVILLE GIRLS BASKETBALL-(front row, left to right) Abby Fuemmeler, Faith Mesik, Molly Schuster, Alison Eichelberger and  Kylee Turner. (second row, left to right) Addie Hubach, Jodie Bass, Kennedy Renfrow, Brooke Eichelberger, Kourtney Kendrick, Addison Brownfield and Payten Black. (back row, left to right) Head coach Jaryt Hunziker, Zoey Lang, Twelva Mason, Hailey James, Abby Pulliam, Emma West and assistant coach Paul Moore.