Seniors leave legacy at Carl Junction

Members of the Carl Junction girls basketballl team celebrate their playoff win against West Plains on Tuesday night at Nixa High School. Globe | Laurie Sisk

It’s not a stretch to say the seniors of the Carl Junction girls basketball team left their mark on the program.

The Bulldogs’ Class of 2020 played a role in 99 wins, four district championships, a pair of conference titles and three state semifinal appearances over the course of their four-year careers.

Carl Junction’s undefeated season ended abruptly on Monday as MSHSAA canceled the Class 4 and Class 5 state basketball tournaments due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. With that, the prep careers of seniors Katie Scott, Shila Winder, Dani Wrensch, Taylor Hughes, Ashley Stokes and Taylor Storm also concluded.

Bulldogs coach Brad Shorter noted his seniors are leaving behind a legacy of excellence.

“I’m just so fortunate to have coached our seniors,” Shorter said after his team’s final practice of the season on Monday. “We’re really going to miss them. They are a fine group of kids. Their leadership and their growth over four years has been outstanding. And that’s every one of them. They were willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. They put the work in, spent extra time in the gym shooting and they put in the time watching film. That was good for the kids that will follow them to see.”

A Drury recruit who was named the Gatorade Missouri Girls Basketball Player of Year, Scott earned multiple all-conference, all-district and all-state honors during her time as a four-year starter. Scott averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists per game as a senior guard/forward.

A shooting guard who did a little bit of everything, Winder averaged 9.5 points and five rebounds per game this season. A forward, Hughes contributed five points and four boards a night, while guard Wrensch averaged five points per game.

Scott, Wrensch, Winder and Hughes were all with the varsity squad from their arrival into high school. Stokes and Storm earned minutes off the bench during their careers.

The Bulldogs put together a historic and memorable 2019-20 season, going 28-0, claiming a Central Ozark Conference championship, winning three tournament titles, capturing a district championship for the fifth straight season, and advancing to the semifinal round of the state tournament for the third time in four years. Carl Junction averaged 63 points per game this season while only allowing 36.5.

The Bulldogs won 18 games in 2019 after winning 26 in ‘18 and 27 in ‘17. Carl Junction finished fourth in Class 4 in ‘17, and the Bulldogs were the state runner-up in ‘18. Carl Junction also won the COC in ‘17.

While the program’s seniors are moving on, the Bulldogs will return a large group of letter winners.

This year’s juniors were Hannah Lee and Hailey Koester. Sophomores were Jessa Hylton, often the team’s first player off the bench, Ellie Lawson and Adyson Walker. Freshmen Destiny Buerge and Hali Shorter spent the season with the varsity. Buerge scored 12 per game as the team’s starting point guard.

“We’ve got a lot of good kids underneath our seniors that are going to be excited to have their time to shine,” Shorter said.

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