David Reeder

KANSAS- Let’s face it, over the past several seasons, folks in South Delaware County have come to expect a certain amount of success from the Kansas Lady Comets.

And along the way, ‘Comet Nation’ has been rewarded with enough accolades for a school two or three times their size.

It’s easy to say that the 2009-10 Lady Comets are as good as advertised. And here’s the thing, the young Kansas Boys team will probably be better than previously advertised.

Head boys’ coach, Todd Lankston will be the first to tell you his ‘new look’ team is young, but confesses that, “We have our share of good athletes. We’ve got some things to learn, but we’ll go right at some people.”

Intent on bedeviling opponents with a lot of man-to-man defense, the Comets will concentrate on a 3-guard double post offensive scheme.

While four spots on the starting team appear to be spoken for, the affable Comet coach added, “It’s a wide open battle for the fifth and important sixth spot off the bench.”

Aspiring to join junior Ethan Fausett underneath the bucket are fellow 6-1 juniors, Dylan Duncan and Wade Lewis, along with senior Shawn Turtle and 6-0 sophomore, Jared Lamont.

Lankston noted that if had to start someone today he was leaning toward Lewis.

6-0 junior Tyler Lankston, who in addition to being a good ball handler, is jack rabbit quick with the verticality of a kangaroo, appears to be a lock at guard.

Sophomore Corey Cowan, who also possesses outstanding ball handling ability, as well as some slick shooting skills, will get the opportunity to transform himself into the Comet’s go-to-guy.

Coach Lankston praised the work of 5-9 junior Zack Carnes and his effort to become the sixth man off the Kansas bench, in addition to 5-9 sophomore, lefty, Brett Odle.

There’s a lot of parity in the boy’s side of the district where perennial foes, Colcord, Adair, Chouteau and Westville are lurking.

But let the Comets get a tournament and a few non-district tilts under their belts and they’re going pull off a lot more than a few surprises.

OK, let’s go ahead and say it, the 2009-10 version of the Kansas Lady Comets are loaded for bear.

And the Kansas faithful have, rightfully so, come to expect 20+ wins year end and year out.

But, on the heels of last year’s heartbreaking last second loss to Millwood in the state semi-finals and the graduation of only one starter, this season’s expectations are huge.

Senior star and recent JBU signee, Kortni Kendrick returns to anchor the Kansas middle and high post. The 6-1 Kendrick averaged 14.1 points per game last year and is an obvious force to be reckoned with, at both ends of the court.

Joining Kendrick is 5-10 fellow senior Brooke Panther. Panther’s ability to muscle down rebounds belies her skill of the gentle put back on offense.

Add to this impressive mix, 6-2 freshman Heather Marshall, who head coach Steve Odle says, “Is improving every day and could see her share of playing time.”

Joining forces are a trio of sensational sophomores in the persons of Kelsey Barnwell, Courtney Cowan and Keely Kerns.

Barnwell, who is nursing a severely injured ankle, is a ball handler extraordinaire, who averaged 13.6 points per game while leading her team and most of the state in steals.

The 5-7 Cowan knows her way around the basketball court with a sweet shooting stroke of her own.

Kerns, who also saw her share of playing time last season, is pegged as the first off the bench in relief of the Comet guards.

5-6 senior Brittany Lamont, who can cover at either forward or guard, adds to things with both ball handling and 3 point skill.

Odle pointed out that seniors Jessica Wells and Lisa Bearpaw continue to be impressive in their bid to start for his gifted team.

At first glance there is the inclination to compare this year’s squad with the 2004 state champions. Bear in mind this season’s Lady Comets have every bit, if not more potential than the one five years ago.

But this year’s ‘Red Storm’ has an altogether different dynamic than that of years past.

They can outrun a team at one moment, and then outmuscle them on the next. They will dive on the floor for a loose ball and crash the board for a rebound. And after all that, they can finesse the socks off of an opponent.

Taking all this in to consideration, the high hopes in Kansas are extremely justified.