By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
The Webb City High School girls basketball team apparently is improved in all areas this season.
“We like how things are going,” Cardinal coach Brad Shorter said Wednesday. “Practices have been very competitive.”
Webb City, which has returned to Class 4, has five junior veterans from a 15-13 edition that finished 2-5 in the Central Ozark Conference Large Division. It lost 47-43 to Carthage on its floor in the championship game of the Class 5 District 12 Tournament.
Those players are 5-foot-8 Kaitlin Beason, 5-7 Mikaela Burgess, 5-7 Kenzie Cooper, 5-7 Megan Heman and 5-6 Lacy Resa.
New faces include a pair of familiar names from softball — 5-5 junior Asia Bemo and 6-0 sophomore Desirea Buerge.
Bemo, who would have been sidelined for most of the season because of a foot injury, didn’t play in 2011-12. Buerge is a transfer from Carthage.
Another new face is 6-2 junior Casey Heger. The transfer from Gilbert (Ariz.) averaged some 14 points and 10 rebounds as a sophomore at her school. Also, she was an all-tournament choice (21 ppg, 10 rpg) during the Southwest Showcase Summer Championships last May in Phoenix.
Completing the Webb City roster for its varsity/junior varsity teams are 5-6 sophomore Kaylee Reynolds and six ninth-graders — 5-8 Tyanna Brown, 5-8 Katy Crane, (twins) 5-7 Lendey Kneib, 5-5 Lexey Kneib, 5-5 Kelsey Lewis and 5-6 Peyton Rogers.
Webb City, seeded first in Pool 1 of the annual Carl Junction Classic, will open the season at 6 p.m. on Tuesday against Monett.
Likely starters for the Cardinals, according to Shorter, will be Beason, Buerge, Burgess, Heger and Heman. Look for Bemo, Cooper and Resa to quickly come off the bench, Shorter said.
“Obviously, I like our size,” Shorter said. “That helps our offense (scoring on the inside) and defensively it should help our rebounding and applying pressure on teams. I like our overall quickness.
“Rebounding, as always, will be a key,” Shorter said. “We must position and block out We can’t get comfortable or nonchalant because of our size. We want to limit teams to one opportunity.
“Asia Bemo brings another dimension with her attributes of speed and team player,” Shorter said.
“Beason and Heman have been looking very strong,” Shorter said. “They will play important roles.
“Burgess (an all-league choice last season) had a great summer,” Shorter said. “She’s more aggressive, stronger and faster. She’ll handle the ball a lot.
“Heger, of course, started as a sophomore (in Arizona),” Shorter said. “I understand she missed some games because of an injury. The addition of those three players — Bemo, Buerge and Heger — will help a lot.”
Shorter doesn’t believe the COC Large Division overall has fallen off in talent. Republic won the Class 4 title last season after a 4-3 effort in the league.
Shorter, who’s in his fifth season at Webb City, is assisted by Walter Resa, Nathan Dingman and Elaine Shewmake.