Dustin Fox and his crew have pivoted to the 2019-2020 basketball season.

Fresh off of a 13-8 record and winning their second league title in the past four seasons, basketball practice kicked off this week for the Lady Blue Comets. With the help of assistants Shannon Bogle and Jerrod Richards, Fox said the energy level has been exceptional thus far.

“So far the energy has been great. I feel like the girls have been working hard, and we are focused on getting better,” Fox said.

Fox said the first week is about implementing the big stuff. On Monday and Tuesday, the Lady Blue Comets worked on transition offense and defense. On Wednesday, it was all about press and press-breaker; Thursday was about ensuring the student-athletes’ understanding the concepts of half-court defense, while other days were about the other side of the court – the half-court offense.

With key losses including Shayla Bogle (Ozark Christian College), Rachel Jackett (Ozark Christian College), Molly Rollins (All-SEK Honorable Mention) and Thea Alschner (second-team All-SEK), Fox needs a set of new players to step up and fill those shoes. And right off the bat, Fox said senior Makayla Schoenhofer (5-11), who will play in the post, has been exhibiting a lead-by-example approach. Schoenhofer has a nice touch around the rim and can rebound.

Senior Jacey Lewis (5-7) is one of the better athletes for Chanute, and she, too, has been leading well. Lewis has the ability to shoot the ball well, but can also get to the rim and finish. The guard will most likely take on the role of Rollins, inside and outside. 

“Those are two girls who saw a little bit of varsity time last year, but this year will be their time to step into a much bigger role,” Fox mentioned.

Junior Kori Babcock (5-6), though, has the most returning experience, and to no surprise, has been hitting the ground running early in this new season. Last year Babcock, who has been starting the last two years, earned first-team All-SEK and was a Class 4A All-State Honorable Mention player, averaging 11.7 points with 3.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals a game. Babcock will run the point guard position. 

Junior Mattilyn Cranor (5-10) has been displaying a spirited will to play, as she is another of the more athletic players on the team. She will play out on the perimeter and will use her ability to slash to the basket. 

Junior Brianna Waggoner (5-2), a guard, has been showing signs of a willingness to hustle, as her role will be the scrapper of the team. Waggoner is a solid ball handler and has the ability to shoot from beyond the arc. Her energy will be key.

“Every year is different for sure; you’ve got a different group of kids and dynamics. I think one of the things we have been fortunate with in our program is that we had great leaders,” Fox said. “They have really shown the way and so that’s no different this year. That’s the thing that has continued on to be the same, the communication, the girls really stepping up and helping each other out and picking each other up. The kind of positive vibes in practice has been something that’s really special.”

Fox said coaches Bogle, a former Neosho County Community College guard, and Richards, a former big man in his playing days, have been huge in facilitating positive vibes that have led to impactful results.

“Both of them do so much for our programs. They’re great role models for our kids, and each of them have their strengths and expertise to kind of lend to the kid,” Fox continued. “I’m really fortunate to have the assistants that I have.”

The next steps for the Lady Blue Comets will be the second annual Dad’s Scrimmage, an exhibition game in which the fathers of the team play versus their daughters. That will take place Saturday at 9 am. 

Then on Tuesday at 6 pm, the team’s intra-squad scrimmage will take place. 

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