Finishing third in the Eastern Missouri Conference last season was quite an accomplishment for the North Callaway varsity girls basketball team.

The Ladybird's also went 19-9 overall a year ago and advanced all the way to the district title game, where it lost in double-overtime to Lutheran. While that might have been a good start to head coach Moragn Beamer's time atop this program, this season the team is looking to perform at an even higher level, a goal that will only be aided by the addition of junior Heather Thurman and sophomore Daelyn Schmauch, both of which will play the guard position in 2017-18.

"We made an appearance at Bowling Green in the league championship game but fell to Clopton. We have a lot of speed returning this season and our run and gun game should improve from last season," said Beamer. "Our transition game should be strong this year, and with four returning starters our style of play should improve. We need to focus on rebounding the basketball and being strong in the post position this season. Our goal is to improve upon last season and earn a higher place in conference."

No matter how positive this team tries to be about the possible pitfalls and trepidations that lie ahead, one peice of the pie it'll never replace is Sam Schaefer. While the same thing could be said for most newly graduated talent, Schaefer earned Second Team-All-EMO and First Team-All District honors last season and that creates a void that it might take more than one person to account for.

That's what makes returning starters like senior guard/forwards Kyla Bertschinger and Nicole Emmons so valuable, the former of which received First Team All-League and All-District recognition. Joining that duo in the backcourt will be returning junior guard Kenzie Ausfahl, who earned Second-Team All-EMO accolades.

Senior guard Reyna Schmauch will also move from being the sixth-man to the starting lineup and senior forward Allie Schlueter returns after claiming First Team All-EMO and All-District recognition. While these individuals are certainly valuable on their own, as a unit their even stronger, something Beamer learned early on last season and never forgot.

"As a second year head coach and with four returning starters and our sixth man returning our team is looking forward to a very competitive and fun season of basketball," Beamer said. "We are excited to play in a competitive EMO conference and hope to earn a higher place than we did last season."