KEARNEY — The Kearney High girls basketball team returns a lot of experience from a team that went 11-12 a season ago.
The Bearcats have four returning starters in Alexis Mishou, Elle Dahlgren, Adison Wood and Janae Kowalski. Not only do the Bearcats return four starters, they also have a lot depth with Lily Novacek, Aspen Rusher and Ashley Ringlein.
“A lot of those kids last year were playing their first year,” KHS coach Jason Boyd said. “Several of them were playing their first year of varsity. Now you get several of those kids going into year two. That’s going to pay dividends for us for sure.”
Not only do the Bearcats have a lot of experience coming back, Kearney will be playing in a new conference this season.
They’ll be making the move to a loaded Heartland Athletic Conference after spending the last 32 years in the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference.
Boyd said the HAC is best it has been since he’s been at Kearney.
“Our schedule doesn’t change a lot being in the HAC,” Boyd said. “It makes the overall schedule a little more difficult adding that tournament. There’s a lot of good teams in the HAC right now. Lincoln girls basketball is as good as I can remember, from top to bottom really.
“We hope to improve from last year and hope that experience carries over from last year. ... Hopefully we can start off strong. We don’t really have many nights off in Class A.”
The one area the Bearcats really excelled at last year was on the defensive end. In 23 games, Kearney gave up on average 42.1 points.
Boyd said he plans to play more halfcourt man-to-man defense this year
“A couple years ago you saw us trapping all over the place. ... Maybe you add that stuff as the year goes on,” he said.
Kearney will open its season at Bellevue West on Nov. 29. The Thunderbirds defeated the Bearcats 76-65 last season.