Carter Kruger is hoping a strong finish to last season carries over to this season. The third-year Barton Community College women’s basketball coach guided his team the Region VI semifinals last season pulling off a pair of upsets after finishing sixth in the Jayhawk West.
The Cougars will give their coach an idea of what to expect this weekend when Barton hosts the Best Western/Pizza Hut Classic at the Barton Gym. Barton will open play with Northern Oklahoma-Enid tomorrow and tangle with North Central Missouri College Saturday.
A prelude to the season was released earlier in the week when Jayhawk Conference announced its preseason coaches’ poll. Barton was tabbed to finish sixth. Four-time reigning champion Hutchinson was the top pick followed by Seward County. Butler Community College was picked third. Hutch, the national runner-up last season, will open the season ranked. No. 2 in the NJCAA poll.
“That is about what we thought or maybe a little higher than we thought because we have so many new people,” Coach Kruger said. “That poll is primarily based on who returns the most talent. We only have one player that averaged more than10 minutes a game last year.
“We have the lowest returning points and minutes played in the league. It is not a bad thing to be picked low. That gives us some motivation.”
The Cougars return three players from last year and no starters. Phikala Anthony did start two games for Barton and played big minutes. The 5-8 sophomore from Memphis averaged 7.6 points per contest. Also returning is 5-9 sophomore Ciera Lampe from Dodge City and 6-0 Emporia sophomore Brittany Bowman.
“We are really going to count on our sophomores,” Coach Kruger said. “They will all play major minutes for us. Besides that we are looking to get freshman help and the guard and post.”
Kruger said he is looking for guard help from a pair of 5-6 freshmen – Katrina Roenfeldt and Keneisha Winfrey.
Roenfeldt comes to Barton from Dodge City where she was a first team All-Western Athletic Conference performer her senior season and runner-up for player of the year. She guided the Red Demons to within a game of the state tournament losing to the eventual state champion in the sub state final. Winfrey is from Horn Lake, Mississippi where she helped guide the Eagles to a 6A state championship.
In the post, Kruger is looking to big minutes from 6-3 Hutchinson High School product McKinna Kraus and 6-0 Brandi Williams from Ohio.
Kraus averaged six points, six rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the Salt Hawks last season. Williams averaged six points and five rebounds a game last season at Fairfield High School in the Cincinnati area. The Indians finished the season with a 14-11 mark.
Last season Barton finished sixth in the West but opened Region VI play with a win at Cowley then knocked off No. 20 Seward County in the quarterfinals before losing to a 31-1 Butler team in the semifinals.
“I hope so,” Coach Kruger said of that momentum carrying into this season. “Our sophomore kids got playing time and got to be a part of that. Hopefully that gives them confidence to go into this year knowing they can play at a high level. And with our program in general, we hope that gave us a boost and we can build off that.”
With three jamborees and a scrimmage under their belt, the Cougars are ready to play a game that counts.
“It’s been a long fall already,” Coach Kruger said. “We are ready to go beat on someone else and to play a game that really matters. We have improved a lot with scrimmages and we are just ready to get going and to see where we stand.
2014-15 Jayhawk West Coaches Poll
4. Garden City
5. Cloud County
8. Dodge City