21-22 Monroe City girls hoops.jpg

The 2021-22 Monroe City girls basketball team. Front row left to right: Lucy Pratt, Mackenzie Moss, Avery Johnson and Meghan Hays. Back row: Mari Gares, Alivia Chinn, Cahlin Chapman, Taylor Pfaff, Audri Youngblood and Savanah Utterback.

MONROE CITY, Mo. — It will be a clean slate for the Monroe City girls basketball team as the Lady Panthers will have few ties to the team that finished 23-3 last season.

Monroe City will have a new head coach, with former Clark County boys basketball and golf coach Adam Rung replacing Cody Leonard, who stepped down after last season.

“My first impression is the girls are very coachable,” Rung said. “They work very hard and they want to do well and be successful. From that standpoint, it’s been a pretty good transition so far.”

The Lady Panthers will have a completely new starting lineup after graduating All-Conference selections Hallie Dyer and Riley Quinn, as well as Bailee Hays and Clara Minor. All-Conference forward Haley Hagan transferred to Hallsville for her junior season.

Monroe City will lean heavily on seniors Mackenzie Moss and Savannah Utterback, who were the team’s top players off the bench last season and have the most varsity experience of the returning players.

“Our seniors have done a really good job of leading and just kind of setting the tone at practice,” Rung said. “They are positive kids. They are hard-working kids, so that has really helped and I think they’ve done a really good job of helping the younger kids.”

Sophomores Lucy Pratt and Taylor Pfaff move up from the junior varsity team and had limited playing time on the varsity roster last season. Both players will be starters this season, with Pratt being the point guard.

“I think as (Pratt) gets some varsity experience, she will slide into that point guard role real nice,” Rung said. “Taylor is another kid that’s improved a lot since I first saw her this summer. She can shoot the ball and she’s able to finish around the basket.”

Sophomore Mari Gares has progressed as a shooter and has the ability to stretch defenses, and will be given significant varsity playing time this season.

Freshmen Audri Youngblood and Cahlin Chapman could also see some playing time off the bench.

“Both of those two are really athletic kids,” Rung said. “They’ve got good motors on them and they play hard.”

Monroe City spent the preseason installing the new offensive and defensive schemes, as well as spending time working on skill development.

“Our (younger players) are going through that learning curve,” Rung said. “Once again, I think you will see us hopefully get better and better every night. What we look like now in November is going to be completely different than what we look like in January and February.”

Rung also hopes the team will gel as the season goes on.

“It’s a process and our goal is every time we step out on the floor for a game or practice is to be better than the day before,” Rung said. “We are going to be more process-oriented if we can continue to get better. Improve in the areas we need to improve upon, then the rest of it kind of takes care of itself.”

2021-22 Schedule

Nov. 22 — at Moberly

Nov. 29 — Canton

Dec. 4 — at Kirksville

Dec. 6-11 — Monroe City Tournament

Dec. 14 — at Mark Twain

Dec. 18 — at Quincy

Dec. 21 — at Montgomery County

Jan. 3-8 — Clopton Tournament

Jan. 11 — at QND

Jan. 14 — Clark County

Jan. 17-22 — Tony Lenzini Tournament

Jan. 25 — Highland

Jan. 28 — Hannibal

Feb. 1 — at South Shelby

Feb. 4 — Bowling Green

Feb. 8 — Palmyra

Feb. 11 — at Centralia

Feb. 15 — at Brookfield

Feb. 18 — Macon

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