To start the 2016-17 varsity girls basketball season Mexico's Adria Costley was on the bench with an injury.

When she came back few outside the Lady Bulldogs program were happy to see her, though, but this was mostly because that's when she began lighting up the rest of the North Central Missouri Conference like votive candles to luminary bags on a chilly December evening. From there Adria Costley spent her summer playing with the Missouri Phenom travel basketball squad before suiting up with the Mexico varsity volleyball team this fall.

Now that she's signed her national letter of intent to play for the Central Missouri University women's basketball team starting the next school year, Adria Costley's whirlwind final year of prep competition can adjust its focus and get back to the business of winning a league championship.

"We're excited about what we've done so far in the preseason. We bring back our top three scorers from the perimeter in guards Adria Costley,Raigan Playter and Reghan Smith," said coach Ed Costley. "We'll need our interior post play to continue to grow to be consistent this season, which will give us a true balanced attack. We really are young, but If we can continue to improve on the mental part of game it'll allow us to put together a productive season. We'll bring the effort and play hard nightly."

Because Playter is a junior and Smith is a sophomore, they appear to play well along side fellow returning junior forwards Logan Blevins and Shelbi Shaw. At the guard position junior Aaryn Sampo and senior Makenzie Davis will also be looking to help the Lady Bulldogs perform to the best of their abilities, but after playing in a limited amount ofvarsity contests a season ago, sophomore guard/forward Taylor Sherrow could, quite possibly, be the one to eat up any available playing time.

"Sherrow played some varsity last year qnd will step in a role to be the versatile player to defend for us and look to take scoring opportunities in game flow," Ed Costley said. "She could be a good addition for our transition play. Sophomore forward Rachel Kristofferson could also end up seeing some minutes at varsity. She could be a rebounding asset for us. She has a knack of being where the ball is."

Last year Mexico finished with a record of 13-14 overall, 6-6 NCMC. The team also lost three players to graduation that all played the forward and/or center positions. This includes Anna Proctor, Kayla Scobee and Morgan Bledsoe.

"We look to be a more improved team in transition play offensively and be able to put more pressure up front to allow for fastbreak opportunities," Ed Costley said. "Having a better understanding of ball movement has been key so far for us in practices. We tend to stand too often and ball watch. Improvement on having an attacking mentality will be key to our success."

Another part of the process Ed Costley would like to see Mexico spend more time immersed in is the playoffs. He's not wrong for feeling his team has that potential after eliminating Fulton 47-31 in 2016-17 to begin Class 4, District 8, either, and the fact the Lady Bulldogs were just barely edged out in their next game by St. Dominics 42-41 is encouraging for all the same reasons.

"We have to get better on the defensive end being able to create turnovers or disrupt opponents offensive flow with deflections," said Ed Costley. "A majority of our points came in the half-court set. We have to find more fastbreak opportunities. One crucial issue will always be reboundin. We have to win the rebound margin and we have to improve on offensive rebound's for second chance looks."