New faces for Lady Eagles basketball team
Purdy looks to youth for hoops answers
For the second consecutive year, the Purdy girls basketball team will be breaking in a new coach.
Jason Webb, who served one season after Eli Ernst left, decided to step away from the head coaching role and the district tapped Ashlee Luko, who spent the last three years as an assistant at Nixa, to take over the young program.
“Getting to know the girls will be important, and the girls learning my expectations and philosophy will be key, as well,” Luko said. “I expect us to work hard, give our best effort, and compete to the best of our ability. If we do that, we will have a chance to be competitive in every game.”
The Lady Eagles went 18-8 last year, but graduation hit the team hard with three All-Conference performers gaining their diplomas, including All-State performer Layne Skiles.
“Layne’s a great player that did a lot of things very well,” Luko said. “It’ll be a team effort to replace what she did, but I think with everyone chipping in and contributing different things, we will be able to make up for Layne’s production.”
Purdy will turn to a trio of seniors in Emma Harkey, Madison Renkoski and McKenzie Renkoski to lead the squad.
“As a new coach, I’ll depend on these players to help me throughout the season,” Luko said. “Emma, Madison and McKenzie are all seniors and will be counted on for their experience and leadership.”
Kinsley Mattingly is another player returning that will have a big impact. Luko said Mattingly brings athleticism and a big wingspan. Freshman Dally Craig will help out in her first high school season.
Purdy will also have to get familiar with a new conference moving over from the Ozark 7 to the Southwest Conference League.
“The SWCL is a very tough conference, with Crane and Blue Eye among others,” Luko said. “These games will provide us with opportunities to test ourselves against some of the better teams in the conference and area.”
Purdy opens the season at the Diamond Tournament, which started Monday and continues through Saturday.