During all four years that he’s been head coach of the Neosho girls basketball program, Grant Berendt has seen at least one player sign with a four- or two-year university or college.
Previous signees included Chelsey Henry (Missouri Southern), Morgan Brodie (Pittsburg State), Brooke Stauffer (Westminster, now at Missouri Southern), and Sydney Linny (Crowder).
The two latest college signees are Neosho seniors Caitlyn Jordon and Makayla Hayes, and Jordon made it official with NCAA Division II Northwest Missouri on Wednesday.
“She missed her junior year due to an ACL tear,” Berendt said. “It never dampened her spirits. Two things about her: She has a tremendous work ethic and she always strives to do the best. Her skill set made her a very diverse player in our league (Central Ozark Conference Large), a very hard and tough matchup. As a senior, she averaged 8.7 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, and she led our team in field goal percentage.”
Jordon earned team captain honors three years in her prep career and she tallied 617 career points and over 400 career rebounds, numbers obviously affected by her missing her junior season with a knee injury.
Berendt said that Northwest Missouri’s current state reminds him of the Neosho girls basketball program just four years ago.
“She will be greatly missed (at Neosho),” Berendt said. “She was a key part in the turnaround of our program and the success we achieved the last four years. Northwest is getting a great recruit in her, a kid that will work extremely hard. They’re in that rebuild process this year that she was coming in as a high school freshman where they have a new head coach and new kids. I’m super excited to see what she can accomplish there in her four years.”
On March 5, Buck Scheel resigned as women’s head coach after a 5-22 overall and 4-15 season in the rugged Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. Scheel had been the Northwest Missouri head coach since 2016.
Just a couple weeks later, Austin Meyer was hired as the new head coach. Meyer, a former Northwest Missouri men’s player who scored 1,294 career points in four seasons (2002-06), had been a men’s assistant for the last 10 years at Northwest Missouri and the associate head coach for the previous three seasons.
“I’m real excited (about Northwest Missouri),” Jordon said for a feature on the six Neosho seniors playing girls basketball. “Just came out of the blue. Once I went to visit, I was taken away with the school and really liked all the players and the coaches. Once they offered, I jumped on it, so I’m really excited to continue basketball and go up there farther away than Neosho and experience something new. I think it will be fun. A little nervous, but excited.”
Jordan named her most disappointing moment in high school during that interview, one which also came to define her career at Neosho because of her response and her return.
“Probably the ACL tear,” Jordon said. “Not being able to play junior year was definitely a disappointment. Missing out not being to able to play with them, but still getting to be on the team was nice. Not playing was definitely hard. ... Rehab was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, just because trying to build back that muscle and not being able to do a lot of things I’m used to, like running and jumping, I couldn’t do that for four months. So that was difficult and mentally, once I got cleared, not thinking about it in the back of my head. It was a difficult process, but it was good for me once I realized that I can do this.”