By BOB LATTA
Record Sports Editor
The McPherson Bullpups have been a roadblock to the state tournament for the Hesston Lady Swathers the past two seasons, ending Hesston's season each time in the sub-state finals.
But they won't this season. McPherson is still in Class 4A while Hesston has dropped down to 3A.
The Lady Swathers had a great year last year, finishing at 20-3. But no trip to the state tournament.
So it is a hungry, determined bunch that heads into the 2013-14 season. Some people must think they will be pretty good because the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association (KBCA) has ranked Hesston No. 1 in Class 3A in a preseason poll.
Thus, the target is already on their backs, and everyone will be aiming to take them down a notch or two.
That is the context the Lady Swathers face as they get set to launch their season next Tuesday (Dec. 10) when the travel to Emporia to battle the Class 5A Spartans in the opening round of the Garden Plain Tournament.
In case that sounds confusing, it is accurate. The following two rounds of the tournament will be in Garden Plain, with the Lady Swathers taking on Garden Plain on Friday, Dec. 13 (lucky someone) and Rose Hill on Dec. 14.
Thus, Hesston will need to be ready to go at the opening tip-off in the opening game of the season.
It's highly likely that they will be ready to go as this is a veteran group and as Hesston coach Matt Richardson indicates that he has six returning starters. Nope, that's not a typo either. Those who were starters at one time or another last year are Megan Voth, Ali Jost, Hannah Schmitt, Caylee Richardson, Kelsey Unruh and Cami Richardson.
Schmitt and Caylee Richardson were “returning starters” last year, so there is plenty of experience back this year.
Four of the returning Lady Swather basketball players received post-season recognition last season.
Caylee Richardson was a unanimous First Team CKL All-League pick and Second Team All 4A pick by The Wichita Eagle and The Topeka Capital Journal.
Cami Richardson was named to the CKL Second Team and received 4A Honorable Mention by The Eagle.