Parkview coach Keri Nichols joked Wednesday afternoon at the season-opening Court Talk banquet that her program had an easy offseason of scouting.
Because the Lady Vikings lost its Class 5 sectional game to Nixa, and then open this season on Monday against Nixa again, Parkview was able to focus on its own development.
That’s good for the Lady Vikings because I expect Aubrey Buckley and Co. to be right back in that sectional round this year against the District 11 champion.
That foe could be Nixa again, or Hannah Cook and Ozark, or maybe another team, but Parkview need not worry about that yet.
Buckley, a Missouri State signee, should show off a more developed game as a senior.
But the real key for the Vikings will be the supporting cast. Will point guard Tyra Moore provide a consistent second option? Can newcomer Dazjah Bryant be a difference maker? What about Buckley’s sophomore little sister, Aaliyah? Is she another college-bound prospect?
Affirmative answers to these questions could turn the Lady Vikings into a factor in the state picture.
Parkview’s District 12 rivals don’t seem to have the firepower to compete, provided Buckley stays healthy. Willard and Central could have the best shots of posing a challenge.
Willard will have to replace Amber Percival, but coach Mike Percival has a handful of returners with experience. It will be crucial for one of those returners to develop as a consistent scoring threat.
Central’s Savannah Rush has developed into a leader and should have the Lady Bulldogs looking at an improved season.
In District 9, defending champion Waynesville appears to have the upper hand. Coach Brittany Matlock’s Lady Tigers were led by freshman Kallie Bildner last season, and a strong sophomore season should have Waynesville in solid position again.
It’s a weak district, and top-ranked Rock Bridge will be waiting in the sectional round.
Rock Bridge should then move to the quarterfinal, awaiting the other local winner.
Who will that be?
Traditionally, if you look at the list of the District 11 and 12 teams, you’d think the District 11 team would win in a walk-through.
But with one of the state’s best players, and an improved supporting cast, Parkview could buck that trend.