By The Telegram

A year ago, the Greeley County boys basketball team went 23-2, losing to eventual state 1A runner-up Quinter in the finals of the sub-state to end one of the school's best seasons in recent years.

Gone from that team is leading scorer Chip Schneider (6-4 center) and his 18 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

But Schneider is the only absentee for coach Jeff Starkey as the Jackrabbits appear to be loaded for another outstanding season.

"We're hoping to be a group that wins games on the defensive end," said Starkey, whose squad set a school record for limiting opponents to 37 points per game. "We return a lot of really good defenders and other than not having a shot blocker at the back of the defense, should be very similar on the defensive end."

The other four starters who are back include a pair of 6-0 senior guards (Kellum Schneider, 6.6 points) and Isaac Wilson (8.9 points, 4.4 assists); and juniors Jonathan Miller (6-2 forward, 10 points) and Stephen Houston (6-0 forward, 5.6 points).

"We're looking to be more balanced offensively and would like to see four or five guys in double figures each night," Starkey said. "We probably won't get as many easy baskets this year, but our guards have the potential to be pretty good but they need to be good on a consistent basis for us to be successful."

u u u

A new face appears on the scene for the Greeley County Lady Jackrabbits and it's not any player on the roster.

Tom Farmer, a former all-state guard for the Jackrabbits when they won the Class B state basketball championship in 1968, will be coaching his first season at his alma mater. He takes over for the retired Stan Shafer, who stepped down after 15 seasons.

Farmer inherits a team that will be lacking height but has plenty of athletic ability and should be a fast-breaking and defensive-minded team.

The Lady Jackrabbits went 17-8 a year ago and three starters are back from that team. They are senior guards Kelli Crittenden (5-6), Madison Moser (5-3) and Mackenzi Bender (5-3).

"We hope to be competitive and fun to watch," Farmer said of this year's team.

Farmer hopes to build depth from his group of underclassmen which includes three juniors and three sophomores. His group of juniors include 5-6 forward Haylie Greeson, 5-4 guard Carly Robertson and 5-4 forward Shalee Myers. His sophomore class includes 5-4 guard Kennedy Schneider, 5-6 forward Kelcy Crittenden and 5-10 forward Courtney Nemechek.

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Greeley County Jackrabbits

Class: 1A

League: Western Kansas Liberty

Coach: Jeff Starkey (5th year)

2008-2009 Record: 23-2, 9-0 league

Returning Starters: Kellum Schneider (6-0, Sr., G); Isaac Wilson (6-0, Sr., G); Jonathan Miller (6-2, Jr., F); Stephen Houston (6-0, Jr., F)

Other top returners: Jordan Nemechek (6-3, Sr., c, 2.8 pts.); Jonathan Splitter (6-1, Jr., F); Clay Robertson (5-6, Jr., G)

Greeley County Lady Jackrabbits

Class 1A

League: Western Kansas Liberty

Coach: Tom Farmer (1st year)

2008-2009 Season record: 17-8

Returning Starters: Kelli Crittenden (5-6, Sr., G); Madison Moser (5-3, Sr., G); Mackenzi Bender (5-3, Sr., G)

Other top returners: Haylie Greeson (5-6, Jr., F); Carly Robertson (5-4, Jr., G); Shalee Myers (5-4, Jr., F); Kennedy Schneider (5-4, So., G); Kelcy Crittenden (5-6, So., F); Courtney Nemechek (5-10, So., F)