Sterlington Lady Panthers Basketball Preview
For the Sterlington Lady Panthers, the upcoming basketball season presents a new set of challenges.
First of all, the Lady Panthers are entering their inaugural campaign in Class 3A.
Secondly, third-year coach Mike Crumpler must find someone to help offset the losses of four-year starter Mimi Gray and point guard Saige Doty.
Mimi Gray, a first-team All-District 2-2A honoree, averaged 14.5 points and 7.8 rebounds last season while helping Sterlington to a 24-9 record and its first postseason victory since 2012. She is continuing her career as a freshman at Baton Rouge Community College.
A second-team All-District selection, Saige Doty averaged 8.3 points and a team-high 5.3 assists per game in her only season at Sterlington after transferring from Natchitoches St. Mary.
Juniors Kaela Mullins and Jayla Stewart, a pair of third-year starters, and sophomore Makayla Waters head up the returning cast.
Mullins averaged 13 points and a team-best 9.7 rebounds en route to earning first-team All-District accolades last season.
Rounding out the holdovers are Madeline Rogers — the team's lone senior — junior Ashleigh Davis and sophomores McKenzie Gray and Brianna Logan.
"We have a unique group this year," Crumpler said. "We have a little experience, but we have a lot of inexperience. We have 14 players, and three of those have never played. We have six or seven way above the learning curve, and six or seven way below the learning curve, which makes it difficult to have competitive practices."
Newcomers include sophomores Victoria Vaughan and Sesha Morris and freshmen Jyme Broadway and Kirston Green.
Vaughan, a 6-0 post who transferred from Neville, gives the Lady Panthers some much-needed height in the paint.
"I have high hopes for Victoria Vaughan," Crumpler said. "Right now, she's still catching on to a new system."
Along with the inexperience, Crumpler is concerned about the Lady Panthers' depth.
"It's going to be a different year, but we're doing the best we can. The season is going to be here before we're probably ready," Crumpler said. "Six-seven-eight is probably as deep as we are going to be able to go."
For the Lady Panthers, the new district represents a higher level of competition.
"It's going to be tough for us," said Crumpler of District 2-3A. "I look for Wossman and Madison Parish to be the best. I really don't know anything about Richwood. They have a new coach and I didn't see them at all this summer. They are always athletic and you can always throw them into the mix.
"We played Carroll several times over the summer. We beat them and they beat us.
"Union Parish hadn't won a game last year until they came to our tournament. They won two games in our tournament, and that kind of jump-started their season. They had a lot of young kids, who are back with a year of experience."
Sterlington makes its first preseason appearance Monday, Oct. 30 at Bastrop.