Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

With one very big exception, the 2009-10 season was not a good one for Delaware County hoops.

The Kansas Lady Comets won their third state championship of the decade under head coach Steve Odle, defeating OKC Millwood in the title game.

The rest of the county teams didnít fare as well, with not one other team even qualifying for the state tournament.

But, for various reasons, there are signs that better days are ahead.

For the Grove Ridgerunners, new head coach Will Jones has nowhere to go but up after last yearís 5-18 campaign. This is Jonesí third head coaching job, after stints in Pawhuska and Enid. His average season record of 16-9 shows that he knows what heís doing. And with seniors Chase Hilton and Trent Phillips leading a group of young players, itís certain the Ridgerunners will be better.

The Lady Red are also looking for improvement after last yearís 13-12 season. With plenty of depth and a strong core of post players, head coach Richard Bassett and his squad should also be better. And with many of the minutes going to freshmen and sophomores, the Lady Red will only get better in seasons to come.

Depth, along with experience, will be the strength of Carl Scottís Jay Bulldogs. The Bulldogs boast a roster with 10 seniors and two juniors. Now in his second season, Scott thinks that with the players buying into his system and being a year older, his team should do better than last yearís 11-13 mark.

Although the Lady Bulldogs lost leading scorer Hannah Ritter and her 18 points per game to graduation, head coach Terry Sweeney feels that he has the talent, led by younger sister Megan Ritter, to make a run at the state tournament.

Of course, there are still the Kansas Lady Comets, who find themselves in the familiar position of being ranked number one in Class 3A and favored to win the state championship once again. But this yearís Lady Comets, after losing post players Brooke Panther and Kortni Kendrick to graduation, will have a different look. Led by Kelsey Barnwell, the Lady Comets will be a guard-dominated team that will play suffocating pressure defense, as evidenced in their season-opening win over Jay. The look may be different, but the expected results will be the same for the Lady Comets.

The big difference this year is they arenít the only ones with cause for optimism.