LINDSBORG – It is an exciting time for the Smoky Valley girls basketball program as for the second season in a row the Lady Vikings had a winning record in 2021-22 as well as the best overall record in several seasons.
Finishing 15-7 a season ago, the Lady Vikings increased their win total by two and will now look to continue the upward momentum of the program in 2022-23.
Jason Drouillard, who is entering his second season as head coach of the Lady Vikings and fourth overall as a head coach, will be getting help on the bench from assistant’s Kimi Lindshield and Kelsie Anderson.
“We look to build off of the momentum from last season where we posted the school’s best record in over a decade,” noted coach Drouillard. “We loved the commitment the girls made to improving over the summer. We spent many early mornings in the gym working on skill development and lifting weights. I am excited to see that hard work and dedication pay off this upcoming season.”
While Smoky Valley has a solid nucleus of Lady Vikings to hit the court with in a couple of weeks, they will have to compensate for the loss of graduates Breanna Priddy, Gracie Lambert and Abby Rose, all three of whom filled valuable roles in the successes of the past two seasons.
The 2022-23 season will begin with the talented Adrian Hazelwood, now a five-foot-seven junior guard who earned first-team All-Central Kansas League honors as well as being named honorable mention All-State with her average of 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game.
Along with Hazelwood, the Lady Vikings return five other players with a plethora of playing experience while all being underclassman. Among those returning will be juniors Clara McElroy (5’6”), Tinley Scott (5’7”), and Breanne Peters (5’5”) plus sophomores Katja Blanchat (6’0”) and Sophia Fruits (5’4”).
Working the remaining or new members of the Smoky Valley girls team, one name came up as someone the coaches noted to be a player to watch, and that would be Eva Malm, a five-foot-six junior guard.
Speaking of the returnees and what they bring to the game, coach Drouillard said, “We look to be more well-rounded offensively, especially with our style of playing fast. While we won’t have much size, we have great athletes, so we will look to push tempo and control that aspect of the game. Defensively, we will want to create havoc and just non-stop pressure on the ball. This is a very special group of girls, and I am very pleased to be their coach.”
The Lady Vikings are scheduled to begin the 2022-23 season on Friday, December 2 when they play host to Abilene, a team that finished just 3-18 a year ago.
Concluding his pre-season reflections, coach Drouillard spoke of the league and schedule by adding, “Out league will be extremely competitive from top to bottom. While the league did lose a number of quality basketball players, we also return some of the top players in the state. It will be a great battle night in and night out.”
(The Staff covering McPherson County Activities can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org)