Basketball Teams Picked
to Win East
Getting respect from the Jayhawk Conference, the Cowley men’s and women’s basketball teams were picked to finish first in the Jayhawk East preseason coaches’ polls. The Cowley men’s late-season run, which saw them finish just one win short of qualifying for the national tournament for the first time in nearly 50 years, along with the talent it has coming back, was enough for the coaches to vote the Tigers as the favorite in the East.
The Tigers were picked ahead of last year’s conference champion, Coffeyville. Colby, ranked seventh in the NJCAA preseason poll, was picked to finish first in the West. “It’s a credit to our players and a credit to our program,” coach Randy Smithson said. “But, I don’t feel like number one until we beat Coffeyville. I hope our team can grow, I definitely think we have a team that can be first in the East.”
The Lady Tigers, who have won five of the last six Jayhawk East titles, were picked to finish ahead of Independence, while Coffeyville was picked third in the East. Sixth-ranked Seward County was picked first in the Jayhawk West, ahead of 17th-ranked Garden City and 28th-ranked Cloud County. For new Cowley head women’s coach Stephanie Smith, being picked first in the East speaks volumes about the respect other coaches in the conference have for the program. “It’s nice for recruiting purposes, and it’s an honor to be picked number one in the conference,” Smith said. “I’m a little surprised to be picked first with me being a new coach (at Cowley) and not having any returning players.
Cowley has had a very successful program, and like a lot of coaches in the conference said, Cowley is number one until somebody can knock them off.” Smith and her assistant, Erroll Lowery, had tremendous success working together at Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Ill. They have assembled a team full of newcomers. The only holdover from last year’s team is sophomore LaShelle Parker, who recently suffered a knee injury and is likely out for the season. “We expected her to be a major part of our team this year,” Smith said. “She will still be able to help us from the bench by encouraging and helping her teammates.”
Smith believes the key will be how quickly the new players can come together and form solid team chemistry. “We have to adjust quickly in order to live up to being picked number one in the conference,” Smith said. “We’ll use it as motivation. My teams at Wabash were proud to be picked that high, now we just need to stay there.”
Dec. 5-7—M/W at Jayhawk Shootout
Dec. 10—W home vs. NEO, 6 p.m.; M home vs. Friends JV, 8 p.m.
Dec. 16—M/W at Johnson County, 6/8 p.m.
Jan. 7—M/W home vs. Coffeyville, 6/8 p.m.
Jan. 10—M/W at Allen County, 6/8 p.m.
Jan. 14—M/W home vs. Indep., 6/8 p.m.