Wildcat hoopster Petty garners nod in coaches’ poll
For Frontier League girl's basketball fans, Feb. 25 is an important date. That night the league's top two returning players will face off in a game that should have a bearing on the final league standings.
Because the league's coaches had a difficult time deciding who the best player in the conference was, Gardner's Jessica Stewart and Paola's Tiffany Craner will have to stake their claim when they walk onto the court that night.
Both players were chosen on all 11 ballots, and both tallied 100 out of a possible 110 points. In a poll of league coaches that also had De Soto's Amy Petty mentioned as one of the league's best Stewart was tabbed top player on six of the 11 ballots, while Craner took top honors on four. The other first-place vote went to Ottawa's Megan Ramsey.
Craner made up for the difference by finishing third or better on all 11 ballots. Stewart was the fourth-best player in the league, in one coach's opinion. Otherwise she too finished in the top three on all ballots cast.
For now, Stewart has the edge, because she was picked as the player the coaches would want to build a team around. But that honor does not necessarily mean those same coaches think she's the best player.
Stewart edged out Paola's Brittany Miller and Ramsey by a 3-2 margin for the honor. De Soto's Petty, Craner and Spring Hill's Amanda Dittmer all received a vote as well.
Trailblazer coach Geoff Markos said Stewart was a must on the team, and history backs up his claim. The five-foot-five-inch senior is a three-time all-league selection and received the third most votes in earning the postseason honor a year ago.
She was also named to the second team all-state team in 5A a year ago.
"Her ability to make others better is astonishing," Markos said on his nomination form. "She sees the floor very well and is one of the best ball handlers I have seen, including guys."
Markos said Stewart's defense is so tough that she often holds opponents to much less than their average.
Stewart's numbers speak for themselves as well. She put up more than 11 points a game a year ago and dished out seven assists. Stewart was also good for four rebounds and more than three steals a contest.
Craner is a fourth-year starter that has also been all league the last three seasons. The 5-10 senior has been named to the 5A all-state team the past two campaigns and made the all-tournament teams at Olathe South, Burlington and Paola.
Paola girls basketball coach Richard Ebel described his star as a versatile player who can score inside and hit from the outside.
Joining Stewart and Craner in the order of points earned were Ramsey, Dittmer and Petty.
Ramsey is a 5-9 junior guard who averaged 15 points, six rebounds and two assists per outing.
She is a returning honorable mention all-starter in 5A and was named to the all-tournament teams at the Goodland Preseason Tournament in 2003-2004 and the Top Gun Tournament in Wellsville.
The Lawrence Journal-World tabbed Ramsey, who was named all-conference in the Huron League a year ago, as an all-area player.
The World Company owns both the Journal-World and the De Soto Explorer.
Dittmer will again take over the point-guard position for Clay Frigon's Broncos. The sophomore averaged 11 points, three rebounds and two steals a year ago. But more important she dished out three assists an outing.
De Soto's Petty has a knack for coming up big in big games. Just ask Frontier League foes Osawatomie and Spring Hill.
Last season the 5-7 senior led the Wildcats in the Louisburg Girl's Invitational Tournament by scoring 50 points in three games. Petty tallied 18 points against the Trojans in the semi-finals and poured in 16 in the championship game against the Broncos.
She also led De Soto to the Kaw Valley championship and a 19-3 record by putting up 14 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and two steals an outing.
Miller led all vote-getters on the second team. The 5-10 Paola sophomore averaged six points and four rebounds a year ago.
Although she dished out eight assists a game a year ago, Ottawa's Jara Vance couldn't climb any higher than the second team. The 5-7 senior was also credited with eight points, two steals, and two rebounds a year ago.
Eudora's 5-10 sophomore Erin Kracl played her way onto the second team after a fine freshman season that produced 6.6 points and more than four rebounds an outing.
Katelyn Miles of Baldwin and Louisburg's Kelsey Bowden grabbed the final two spots on the second team. Bowden is a 5-9 junior who put up 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds a game last season.
The third team comprised Ottawa's Caitlin Smith (5-8 senior guard), Osawatomie's Jessica Jones (5-6 junior), Anderson County's Brecken McDaniel (5-6 junior), Central Height's Jill Adkinson (5-6 senior) and Wellsville's Lacey Roecker (6-2 senior).
Receiving honorable mention were Samantha Troutman (Osawatomie), Kayla Moyer (Eudora), Krystal Barthol (Wellsville), Sierra Shore (Gardner-Edgerton), Taylor Brewer (Gardner-Edgerton) and Jessie Kreiser (Louisburg).