By William / www.mcpherson-county-ks.com

LINDSBORG – After having their first winning season since 2007-08, the Smoky Valley girls basketball team is looking to build on some momentum from the 2020-21 season and hopefully make a run at making the state tournament.

Last season the Lady Vikings finished 13-8 overall, a huge improvement over a team that has not had more than seven wins in just three of thirteen seasons.

Despite the improvement, head coach Larry VanDerWege stepped down from leading the Smoky Valley girls after just three seasons, leaving former Smoky Valley middle school girls coach Jason Drouillard as the coach in charge.

While the Lady Vikings graduated four of their top scorers, three starters return as a core to build around for 2021-22.

Seniors Abby Rose and Breanna Priddy, along with sophomore Adrian Hazelwood had a combined average of 17.0 points and 14.5 rebounds per game last season with Hazelwood making honorable mention all-Central Kansas League as just a freshman.

“We will look to build off the momentum from last season,” noted first-year head coach Jason Drouillard. “We return a good core of young talent to mix with some solid upper classmen and with the athleticism we will have, we will look to push the tempo of the game.”

Smoky Valley will also have six other Lady Vikings returning after earning varsity playing experience last season and Coach Drouillard’s job will be to combine them with the three returning starters and three touted sophomores from the junior varsity and a pair of highly anticipated freshman to give the home crowd lots to cheer about.

Competing in the Central Kansas League means the Lady Vikings will have to be on their game every time they step foot on the court as the league once again will show off some of the state’s top lady hoopsters.

Here is a complete summary of the upcoming 2021-22 season for the Smoky Valley Lady Vikings:

SMOKY VALLEY LADY VIKINGS OPENING MONTH OF THE 2021-22 SEASON =

Friday, December 3 = At Abilene

Tuesday, December 7 = Host Southeast of Saline

Friday, December 10 = At Concordia

Tuesday, December 14 = Host Hesston

Friday, December 17 = At Halstead

WHAT YOU GET WITH LADY VIKINGS HEAD COACH JASON DROUILLARD =

  • Coach Drouillard is in his 1st season as head coach.
  • Coach Drouillard spent 3 seasons as Smoky Valley Middle School Lady Viking Coach.
  • Record leading the Lady Junior Vikings was 18-6.
  • In 2020-21 the Lady Vikings finished 13-8 overall.
  • Assistant Lady Viking Coaches = Kimi Lindshield & Lauren Doak.
  • Lady Vikings play in the Central Kansas League.

SMOKY VALLEY LADY VIKINGS WHO GRADUATED/TRANSFERRED =

  • Ellie Brumbaugh
  • Kerington Haxton
  • McKinley Johnson
  • Claire Broxterman

KEY RETURNING LADY VIKING PLAYERS FOR 2021-22 =

  • STARTER – Adrian Hazelwood = 5’7” sophomore guard; 8.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game; named Honorable Mention All-Central Kansas League.
  • STARTER – Abby Rose = 6’0” senior forward; 2.5 points & 3.5 rebounds per game.
  • STARTER – Breanna Priddy = 5’9” senior center; 5.6 points & 6.2 rebounds per game.
  • Avery VanDerWege = 5’5” senior guard.
  • Keira Mullen = 5’5” sophomore guard.
  • Gracie Lambert = 5’7” senior forward.
  • Tinley Scott = 5’7” sophomore guard.
  • Karee Adam = 5’3” junior guard.
  • Mackenzie Holcom = 6’1” senior forward.

INCOMING LADY VIKINGS TO PAY ATTENTION TO =

  • Katja Blanchat = 5’10” freshman forward.
  • Clara McElroy = 5’5” sophomore guard.
  • Alyssa Holt = 5’10” sophomore forward.
  • Breanne Peters = 5’4” sophomore guard.
  • Kenzie Franklin = 5’7” junior guard.
  • Sophia Fruits = 5’3” freshman guard.

WHAT COACH JASON DROUILLARD HAS TO SAY =

About the 2020-21 season = “The Lady Vikings posted the school’s best record in over a decade, and we look to build off that momentum from last season.”

About the 2021-22 season = “While we lost a good chunk of our scoring from last year’s seniors, we can turn to a good core of young talent to mix in with our upperclassmen.”

How does he expect the Lady Vikings to play = “With the amount of athleticism we will have, we will look to push the tempo in each game with our speed and agility while playing tough on the defensive end of the court. We will look to shut down the easy driving lanes and force teams to take contested outside shots. As a team, we certainly look to take that next step further and compete in the state tournament.”

Looking at the Central Kansas League = “Our league will once again be extremely competitive from top to bottom. While the league lost several quality players, we also return some of the top players in the state. It will be a great battle night in and night out.”

{The Smoky Valley Lady Viking Preview is SPONSORED by CrossDove Creations}