The women's basketball team at Lamar Community College will feature new coaches, new faces, and a new direction.
Landon Steele takes over the reins as head coach of the Lady Lopes. Steele comes from Northwest Kansas Technical College (NWKTC) in Goodland, Kansas. The Mavericks posted a 20-10 record under his direction last year. Steele ended with a 28-31 career record, leaving NWKTC as the program's career wins leader.
Prior to NWKTC, Steele was the Head Coach at Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, Kansas, where he posted a career 88-42 record in six years as well as two state tournament appearances and a state championship in 2012.
"I'm really excited to take over the reins of the women's basketball program here at LCC. I think the region is wide open this year with four of the eight teams in the south having new coaching staffs, or being a first year program," said Coach Steele.
Joining Coach Steele as the assistant coach is Nolan Collins. Coach Collins comes to Lamar after spending the last four years at North Platte Community College (NPCC) in North Platte, Nebraska. Collins was in charge of defense, recruiting, film exchange, scouting, and was also the team's strength coach. The NPCC Knights were 57-58, with one NJCAA Division II National Tournament appearance in Coach Collins' four years with the team.
Edina Krusko returns as the only sophomore to play at LCC last year. Krusko, a 5'5" guard from Littleton, Colorado, led last year's team in scoring at 12 points per game.
Joining Krusko will be transfer sophomores TiAna Davila, a 5'7" guard from Victoria, Texas; Shenayah Castillo, a 5'6" guard from Aurora, Colorado; Harley Morris, a 5'7" guard from New Orleans, Louisiana; and Dominique Wilson, a 5'7" guard from Rancho Cucamonga, California.
Davila and Morris both transferred from NWKTC, where Davila scored 8.6 points per game on 36% shooting from the three and Morris averaged 1 point per game. Castillo comes to LCC after spending a year at Southeastern Community College in Iowa where she averaged 2 points per game. Wilson is a transfer from Northeastern Junior College.
There will also be an international flair to this year's team. Ann-Kathrin Schaetzle, a 6'1" wing/forward, and Marlene Stechl, a 5'8" guard, both come from Germany. Sabela Reigosa Pernas, a 6'1" forward, and Caudia Del Moral, a 5'5" point guard, hail from Spain. Rounding out the international players is Damilola Balogun, a 6'1" forward from Nigeria, who has spent the last two years in US high schools.
Kiara Budd joins LCC from Dighton, Kansas. Her older sister Shambrey, who is now at Washburn, played the last two seasons for Coach Steele at NWKTC. The 5'6" sharpshooter also won a state championship at Dighton last year.
The freshman class is rounded out by Caylynn Wolf, a 5'8" guard/forward from Angelton, Texas; Brittany Hoekwater, a 5'7" guard from Manton, Michigan; Kyndell King, a 6'0" forward from Simla, Colorado; Shelby Hawkins, a 5'8" guard/forward from Elizabeth, Colorado; and Morgan Bolen, a 5'6" guard from Aurora, Colorado.
"We are very young this year, and our young players don't know what they don't know yet. Even though we have had seven scrimmage games, nothing compares to the real thing," said Coach Steele. "I think our team has worked really hard in the preseason conditioning and our first month of practice. We are excited to kick things off next week at the Garden City Classic."
The Garden City Classic will be held on Friday and Saturday, November 4-5. The Lopes will start their season against Kansas Wesleyan University JV at 2:00pm on Friday, followed by a 5:00pm game on Saturday against host team Garden City Community College.
The team's first home game is set for Tuesday, November 15. The Lopes will play Frank Phillips College in the Wellness Center starting at 6:00pm.