ARMA — The Northeast Lady Vikings have gone 46-18 over their last three seasons, and they could be even better in the 2016-17 basketball season.
As part of that record, the Vikings are 24-3 in Three Rivers League play over the past three years, with all three losses coming at the hands of St. Paul.
Last year, they finished 15-6 and earned the No. 1 seed in their 3A sub-state tournament but were upset in the first round. The goals for this year are to improve upon last year’s finish, according to head coach Scott Post.
“Our expectations this year are to do what we did last year from a record standpoint, but we feel we have the pieces in place to have a very good season,” he said. “We are looking to get to the state tournament this year. It will be a disappointment if we do not reach that goal.”
This year, Post returns four starters, three of whom are seniors — two-time all-state guard Autumn Walker, all-state guard Kelsea Choate and forward Haley Robinson. A fourth senior, Kyla Zornes is one of the key contributors off the bench.
“Kyla Zornes is a good ballplayer who comes off the bench and gives us great minutes,” Post said. “She is good defensively, and she is athletic; she won the league title last year in the 100 in track. Autumn Walker and Kelsea Choate have a shot at 1,000 career points, and Autumn should finish with over 700 career rebounds. She was all-state as a freshman in the post, as a junior at the wing, and she will be our point guard this year. She is a basketball player. Haley Robinson is one of the better defenders that I have ever seen, and I have coached at the 6A level at Maize. We have got some girls who can flat play. The pieces are there for us to have a very successful season, and it starts with our seniors.”
Walker has the same high expectations as her coach, and, as a leader, she has high expectations for her teammates.
“I expect the girls to work hard and try for every loose ball, to never stop hustling, and to fight for every rebound,” Walker said. “I hold myself to play hard and lead.”
To prepare his team for a successful campaign, Coach Post played as much team ball over the summer as he could, taking his girls to team camps at Wichita State, Neosho County, the University of Kansas and the Sonic Shootout in Bolivar, Missouri.
At these camps, NHS played and performed well against 5A and 6A teams, like Salina South, who the Vikings almost beat.
“Playing summer ball against 5A and 6A teams is beneficial mainly because we get to compete against girls so much bigger than us,” Post said. “Our tallest girl is 5-foot-11-inches tall and the next tallest is 5’8”. I wanted them to have that type of competition. Some of our girls played up to 55 games this summer. We have the best high school summer league in Eastern Kansas that includes 14 teams, and it has helped us prepare for our season a lot. It can do nothing but improve us.”
Senior forward Haley Robinson shares the same mentality as her coach.
“It was good for us to play so much this summer, to get a look at how the season is going to be,” Robinson said. “With us losing a senior, we got to see how we would play without her. Playing together keeps us moving and keeps our program going in the right direction.”
The program is definitely headed in the right direction, and this year could be a special year for the Lady Vikings, who kick off their season at 5 p.m. Friday night at Bronaugh.