GRANBY — At times, the East Newton Lady Patriots struggled scoring the basketball last season during a 12-14 overall season.

The Lady Patriots graduated Kanah Burkey and Koty Cooper, who were the main point scorers the past two or three seasons.

Rusty McDermott takes over the head coaching reins for Erin Rice, the former Missouri Southern player who guided the Lady Patriots for three seasons and made consecutive trips to the Class 3, District 12 finals.

So, overall, it’s certainly a brand new era for East Newton girls basketball.

“The girls did a great job of dealing with the adversity of injuries throughout the whole season,” McDermott said in a preview for the 4-State Coaches Association. “Several different ladies stepped up to those challenges and made important contributions.

“We have lost a large part of scoring to graduation. We will need to be confident in our ability to score points, and not be hesitant to shoot.

“Our standards are going to be to play with heart and give our best every time we step on the floor. Have the mindset to do whatever it takes to make our team better. The Big 8 Conference is a very tough conference with great players and coaches. We are going to try and come out and compete every night we get to play.”

Key returners include Brynne Smith, Kinsey Sorrell, Kendra Hickman, and Robin Hussong.

“Brynne Smith is a solid player and good leader,” McDermott said. “We are looking for her to control the boards and be a defensive stopper.

“Kinsey Sorrell will be our floor general. She will help guide the team offensively and defensively.

“Kendra Hickman’s speed and toughness will be a big asset. We look for her to contribute on both ends of the floor.

“Robin Hussong is an all-around player that every coach loves to have. We want her hard-nosed style to become contagious.”

Sorrell averaged 5.8 points, three rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.2 steals last season, with her three best scoring games of the season coming in the final three games of the season. She has the most varsity experience of any Lady Patriot players this season. Over her career, Sorrell has excelled in four different sports at the varsity level, with cross country, softball, and track in addition to hoops.

Smith, who’s shown flashes over the past couple seasons often times spelling the foul-prone Cooper, averaged 2.2 points and three rebounds last season.

Hickman averaged one point in her four games last season and Hussong also saw minimal playing time last season.

Nov. 27-Dec. 2 — Carthage Tournament
Dec. 4-9 — Joplin Tournament
Dec. 4 — vs. Carthage
Dec. 11 — vs. Pierce City
Dec. 14 — at Marshfield
Dec. 18 — at Neosho
Jan. 4 — at Diamond
Jan. 8 — vs. Mount Vernon
Jan. 9 — vs. Southwest
Jan. 15 — at Lamar
Jan. 18-20 — Jay Tournament
Jan. 22 — at Purdy
Jan. 25 — at Aurora
Jan. 29 — at Strafford
Feb. 5 — vs. Seneca
Feb. 8 — vs. Cassville
Feb. 12 — vs. McDonald County
Feb. 15 — at Monett