Lady Crusaders counting on everyone

It will be a true team effort this basketball season for the Helias Lady Crusaders.

“We’re going to be at our best when everybody is contributing,” Helias coach Doug Light said as the Lady Crusaders prepared for tonight’s season-opener against the Mexico Lady Bulldogs at Rackers Fieldhouse. “We’ve got a lot of great kids who can do a lot of things and we’re going to need all of them to be successful.”

The Lady Crusaders return five players who have varsity experience. Meghan Nappier, a 5-7 senior guard, is a returning full-time starter.

“Megan has been through the battles and she’s very confident,” Light said.

Kelsi Bernskoetter, a 5-9 forward, started late last season for the Lady Crusaders.

“Kelsi has a great outside shot and she is going to big things for us this season,” Light said.

Those two will be joined in the starting lineup by junior Darcy Baird, along with sophomores Luci Francka and Mai Nienhueser.

Baird (5-11) and Nienhueser (6-1) will be joined by reserve Molly Sandbothe (5-11 jr.) to give the Lady Crusaders a strong presence inside.

“We should be able to match anybody down low,” Light said. “They all have their own strengths and the great thing is they are all underclassmen.”

And they are all capable of scoring.

“If we get that going, that will open up things for us outside,” Light said.

Francka, a 5-7 guard, has made consistent progress throughout the preseason.

“I’m so excited for her, it seems like she’s getting better each day,” Light said. “Her confidence is soaring.”

Among other players being counted on to contribute are senior guards Baylee Francka (5-6) and Kaysie Scheuler (5-7).

“Baylee’s a hard-worker and a great leader who will have a big role for us,” Light said. “Kaysie is very good at giving us a spark.”

The team concept was put to the test in Friday night’s Jamboree at Helias. The Lady Crusaders struggled in their opener against the Fatima Lady Comets, committing 13 turnovers in 12 minutes of action.

“We weren’t playing as a team and you’re asking for trouble when you do that,” Light said. “It wasn’t anybody being selfish, Fatima is a pretty good team and they took full advantage.”

The Lady Crusaders redeemed themselves in the final two games of the Jamboree with wins against Blair Oaks and Jefferson City.

“We got ourselves together,” Light said.

The Lady Crusaders open the season with a pair of key performers injured.

Sophomore guard Molly Light (5-7) sat out the Jamboree with injured hips, but could see limited action tonight. Katlyn Cowell (5-10, jr.) will be out until late January after suffering a broken foot during club soccer in the fall.

“She’s our most versatile player, she can do a lot of things out there and we really don’t have another player like her,” Light said. “She had a fantastic summer and we were looking for a great season from her. But it will be an added bonus when we get her back into the lineup.”

Light and the Lady Crusaders are ready to get the season going.

“The kids are great to coach and they’re doing everything we’re asking,” he said.

The junior varsity game will start at 6 p.m. today, with the varsity contest to follow around 7:30 p.m.

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