By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
A young Joplin High School girls basketball team will open its season today by visiting nonconference rival Neosho.
The junior varsity contest at 6 p.m. is scheduled to open the program.
Six players are candidates to start for Joplin, new coach Dustin Larsen said Monday. There are no seniors on the ballclub.
Bailey Taylor, a 5-foot-8 sophomore, will be the point guard for the Eagles, Larsen said.
Juniors in the starting mix, Larsen said, are 6-1 Danielle Hollingshead, 5-6 Kelsey Johnson, 5-9 Jacqueline Lieurance and 5-5 Marissa Queen. Samantha Stout, a 5-6 sophomore, completes the starting candidates.
Three more sophomores will complete the current varsity roster, Larsen said. They are 5-5 Shantel Beck, 5-4 Madi Frost and 5-8 Avery Burlingame.
Larsen, who’s assisted by Danielle Falor, Kalan Hubbard and Sara Hansen, said that Joplin has 21 players for the varsity and junior varsity games. The Eagles likely will dress out 13 players for varsity tournaments, Larsen said.
“I like the way the players dug in and accepted the challenge of what we want brought to the table,” Larsen said. “We’ve been demanding. They’ve accepted the challenge. They’ve worked extremely hard. They have improved. We have high expectations.
“We realize there will be ups and downs during the season,” Larsen said. “We have to focus on improving each day.”
Larsen joined Joplin after 10 seasons as head coach at Springfield Catholic. The graduate of Buffalo High School (1995) and Central Methodist of Fayette (Mo.) began coaching with one year assisting Mark Fisher with the Springfield Greenwood boys before moving to Catholic.
Catholic finished 169-110 overall in Larsen’s 10 years. The Irish finished second in Class 3 in 2007 and fourth in 2005. They won four district titles and reached the district final nine of the 10 years.
Joplin finished 4-21 overall and 0-9 in the Ozark Conference in 2011-12 in Vicki Spivy’s third season at the helm.
The Joplin home opener will be against Monett next Monday night.