The American Family Insurance preseason ALL-USA Ozarks teams recognize high school girls players poised to have great seasons on the hardwood.
The News-Leader selects the first and second ALL-USA Ozarks teams based on the individual player’s value to her team, overall basketball skill, and leadership traits. It is not a college basketball prospect ranker, nor are selections intended to inflict any negative opinion toward a player, coach or team.
Selected players are listed in no particular order:
American Family Insurance Preseason ALL-USA Ozarks First Team
Jordan Sanders, Kickapoo
As a junior, Sanders led Kickapoo’s girls basketball team in scoring with 15.6 points per game and in rebounding with 6.9 rebounds per game. She scored 437 points in 30 games. Kickapoo comes off a 29-3 campaign in which the Chiefs won the Class 5 state championship. Sanders signed to play NCAA Division I basketball at University of California-Irvine. At 5-foot-11, Sanders is an instinctive rebounder capable of scoring baskets and drawing fouls in the paint.
“Jordan is that player you can count on in crunch time,” UC-Irvine coach Tamara Inoue said. “Her length and wingspan creates a mismatch on both ends of the court. Jordan comes from a winning program and I am looking for her to be an immediate impact to our program next year.”
Sanders is also a 2016 state champion in javelin throwing.
Hayley Frank, Strafford
She’s only a sophomore, but Hayley Frank is 6-foot-1 with the ball skills of a point guard and the scoring ability of a power forward. She shares Strafford basketball with her family, head coach Steve Frank and non-identical twin sister Kayley Frank. Hayley Frank scored 619 points in her freshman season. She averaged a double-double of 18.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, which led 30-3 Strafford in scoring all the way to a Class 3 state championship. Strafford had never played in the state final four since the Missouri State High School Activities Association began organizing girls basketball championship games in 1973, but since Frank is only a sophomore, there will be three more chances.
Jordan Wersinger, Kickapoo
Wersinger was one of four Kickapoo players to hold a double-digit scoring average a season ago with 13 points per game. One of her best performances of the season came on Missouri high school basketball’s biggest stage. Wersinger scored 26 points in 31 minutes of Kickapoo’s 55-49 win over Liberty in the Class 5 playoff semifinals at Mizzou Arena. She followed with 14 points in a 63-53 championship win over Kirkwood. The Chiefs will need more big game performances from Wersinger, a junior, this season in order to have a chance to repeat as state champions.
Bayley Harman, Walnut Grove
Harman scored an average of 18.5 points per game. The all-state selection also averaged 4.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game from the point guard spot. Walnut Grove finished the season 23-10 with a third-place finish in the Class 1 state championship tournament. The Tigers had no seniors in 2015-2016, and return all five starters from last season. Harman has been a starter since her freshman season, when Walnut Grove won the 2015 Class 1 state championship.
Kelsey Winfrey, Lebanon
Winfrey committed to the University of Missouri as a sophomore and upheld her commitment by signing with the Tigers this month. Winfrey holds 21 Lebanon records after just three seasons, including career points (1,425), career rebounds (579), career assists (212) and career steals (320). The 5-foot-9 guard received 2016 First-Team All-State honors after averaging a school-record 21.2 points per game as a junior. Winfrey led a turnaround at Lebanon that has seen the Yellowjackets post back-to-back winning seasons, including an 18-8 mark last year. Winfrey chose Mizzou over recruiting from North Carolina and Oklahoma State.
Preseason ALL-USA Ozarks Second Team
Taylor Fergen, Republic—Republic went 25-2 last season and reloads its roster with a class of five seniors. Fergen will be a key cog in the machine should coach Kris Flood’s Tigers make a run for a fourth consecutive district championship.
Kaylee DaMitz, Skyline—DaMitz had a heavy hand in Skyline reaching the Class 2 final four for a fourth consecutive year with 14.1 points per game. The 5-foot-5 guard led the Tigers in assists with 74.
Abby Oliver, Strafford—Oliver may well be the most underrated player on a Strafford squad that went 30-3 and won the Class 3 state championship. As a junior, Strafford’s point guard scored 18.7 points per game and led the team in assists. She is also a defensive leader for a team that held opposing teams to less than 50 points in 21 games.
Raylie Hejna, Walnut Grove—When Walnut Grove has to have a basket, look inside to 6-foot-1 forward Raylie Hejna. She put up 16 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, and played on a badly sprained ankle in Walnut Grove’s 52-51 win over Glasgow in the Class 1 third-place game.
Madison Fulp, Crane—A new era begins in “the neatest little town in Missouri,” where the four-time reigning and defending state champions face the departure of six seniors who have gone on to become college athletes. Fulp is a 5-foot-9 forward who scored 8.3 points per game last season and whose role should change from supporting cast member to senior leader.
Amanda Kearney, Branson—Class 5 all-state guard Amanda Kearney holds Branson’s single-season scoring record. The Harding University signee shows the ability to score off the dribble in half court sets, shoot 3-pointers and play hustling defense with her hands in the passing lanes.
Madison Chittenden, Springfield Catholic—Springfield Catholic started the 2015-2016 season 1-10, but a freshman-laden team pulled together to finish the season on an 8-7 run. Chittenden scored 25 points in an upset win over Clever in the playoffs and will be expected to be a team leader as a sophomore as the Fightin’ Irish continue a rebuilding project under coach Dan Stander.
Sarah Jordan, Rogersville—All-COC Small first-team selection Sarah Jordan will be the engine that drives a defensive-minded Rogersville team looking for a third consecutive winning season. Jordan has averaged more than 13 points per game over her past two seasons.
Alana Findley, Fair Grove—Fair Grove will need multi-sport standout Alana Findley if it hopes to challenge Strafford for a district championship in February. Findley led Fair Grove and averaged a double-double with 12.9 points and 11.4 rebounds per game in the prior season’s 20-8 campaign.
Emily Parker, Aurora—Parker averaged 22.6 points per game as a junior for Aurora before injuring her knee and ending her season early. The Missouri Basketball Coaches Association made Parker an all-state selection in Class 4 as a sophomore and as a junior. She recently signed to play next season at Drury University.