By The Telegram
It was a memorable season for the Dighton Lady Hornets last year.
Coach Amy Felker's squad went 24-4, finished fourth in Class 1A and Felker was named The Telegram's girls coach of the year. Two of those losses came to state 1A runner-up South Gray, including a semifinal loss at the state tournament.
In addition, Felker's top player — junior Kaylee Cramer — was named to The Telegram's All-Area first team. The 5-10 senior forward averaged 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals per game to pace the Lady Hornets to their successful season.
Cramer, though, tore her anterior cruciate ligament in the third quarter of the Class 1A consolation game, rehabilitated it during the spring and summer and returned for the final half of the 2009 fall volleyball season and appears primed for basketball.
"She's ready to go," Felker said. "We will have lots of role changes this year."
Gone from last year's team is point guard Kelsey Hubin who led the fastbreak attack for the Lady Hornets. Her likely replacement will be sophomore Katren Cramer who started at the No. 2 guard spot last season as a freshman and contributed 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Also absent from this year's roster is 5-10 senior Kathleen Frise, the team's fourth leading scorer and second leading rebounder, who moved earlier this year.
However, Felker has 5-10 junior Emily Torson, who contributed 13.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game as a sophomore.
"We have some girls that can score on the perimeter as well as power it up on the inside," Felker said. "Defense will be the key for us."
Senior Kirsten Kuhlman, a 5-9 athletic forward who missed most of last season with a knee injury is now healthy and ready to go. Sophomore Sarah Mulville, a 5-4 guard, also saw limited play a year ago and is expected to see more playing time this season.
u u u
There will likely be a learning curve for the Dighton Hornets as this season gets underway for first-year coach Earl Steffens.
After a 4-15 record a year ago, Steffens is hoping that experienced returners in Zac Birney and Tyrel Hoffman, both seniors, and junior C.J. Shaffer, will play key roles in improvement for the Hornets.
"I do expect these to be players who will be very instrumental in our season," Steffens said. "The team is working very hard and we have excellent athletes. I expect us to be competitive and to play solid defense."
Steffens is also optimistic about his team's outside shooting prospects with Birney, Shaffer, Hoffman and 6-1 freshman Ryan Kuhlman all being good shooters.
In addition, Steffens welcomes 6-6 senior Dylon Linenberger, 6-1 senior Matt Jones, 5-10 sophomore Guy Fullmer to the team. Joey Ward also returns as a letterman.
Other newcomers who are expected to contribute include 5-11 junior Garrett Parker, 6-0 freshman Trevor Bollinger and 5-10 junior Tyler Horn.
"Our inside players are untested, but I do expect them to be much improved as the season progresses," Steffens said. "Our team is anxious for the playing season to get underway."
Dighton Lady Hornets
League: Western Kansas Liberty
2008-2009 Record: 24-4
Coach: Amy Felker (8th year, 84-27)
Returning Starters: Kaylee Cramer (5-10, Sr., F); Emily Torson (5-10, Jr., F); Katren Cramer (5-4, So., G)
Other Top Returners: Kirsten Kuhlman (5-9, Sr., F); Sarah Mulville (5-4, So., G)
Top Newcomers: Alex Conine (5-9, Jr., F); Paige Gridley (5-6, So., G); Hannah Speer (5-8, So., F)
League: Western Kansas Liberty
2008-2009 Record: 4-15
Coach: Earl Steffens (1st year)
Returning Starters: Zac Birney (5-8, Sr., G); C.J. Shaffer (5-7, Jr., G); Tyrel Hoffman (5-8, Sr., G)
Other Returners: Joey Ward (6-1, Sr., F); Taylor Parker (6-3, Jr., C)
Top Newcomers: Dylon Linenberger (6-6, Sr., C); Matt Jones (6-1, Sr., C); Guy Fullmer (5-10, So., G); Ryan Kuhlman (6-1, Fr., F); Garrett Parker (5-11, Jr., F); Trevor Bollinger (6-0, Fr., F); Tyler Horn (5-10, Jr., F)