Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2007

Warmly welcomed

Senior happy to be back out for hoops after a year break

November 29, 2007

To say she was missed would be an understatement. Not only were her statistics missed, but to a close knit group of girls she was missed as a competitor and as a companion.

When senior Nikki Snider didn't go out for basketball last year, opting instead to concentrate on volleyball, it was a blow to the team. She had earned all-Frontier League honors as a sophomore and added depth at the post position.

But this year she's glad to be back.

"I really wish I would have now," Snider said of not playing. "But this year, me not playing last year, it makes me want to win more this year."

As the Eudora girls basketball team prepares to open its season with a tournament at Paola on Monday, Snider figures to be an integral part of the 2007-2008 squad.

The 5-foot-10 Snider has had a successful career as a volleyball and basketball player. Her volleyball accomplishments are pretty well known. Her sophomore year she earned all-league honorable mention. Snider's junior campaign was capped with a state championship, and she was part of the all-tournament team. As far as league honors, she was chosen first team.

In her senior season she garnished first team all-conference once again, and was chosen as a member of the Lawrence Journal-World's all-area team for the second consecutive year.

Add to that the all-league honors in basketball -- somewhat of a rarity as a sophomore.

It all comes back to her last go-around as a senior basketball player.

The 2007-2008 girls team returns almost everyone from last year. After coming up one victory short from a state berth last year, this team is hungry and has high expectations.

But one would wonder, with the near-success the team experienced last year, are there any lingering effects with team chemistry that could be attributed to Snider sitting out last year?

"Not from myself or any of the girls who've talked to me," fellow senior Emily Ballock said. "We're all really happy to have her back. She's a great athlete so she's going to contribute to our team and help us reach our goals."

As far as coach-player relations, Eudora coach Ryan Luke said things couldn't be better.

"I was a little disappointed she didn't go out last year, but I'm glad she's out and I think it's good for her that she's out," he said. "She saw that she missed basketball and I think she's excited to be out and understands how important it is. So I think it's made things probably even better."

Snider said it was a little tough being around Luke last year during weight lifting after she told him she didn't want to play. But they kept a friendship that still carries over, which says something positive about both the player and the coach.

If that's the case, and like Luke said if things are even better now after Snider didn't play last year, then no one has any reason for any hard feelings.

That team was young with only one senior, Allison Braden. Hopes of a state-championship caliber team were somewhat farfetched.

But this year, things are different. The team is loaded with upperclassmen and the players are hoping this year is Eudora's chance to rise to the top of Kansas girls high school basketball.

"We want to make it to state," Snider said. "We have one of the best groups of girls that has ever come through for basketball and if we could do it this year, this would be the time."

Both Snider and Ballock said the chemistry on the team is really good at this point. Part of that can be attributed to summer work, which Snider did take part in, the players said. The girls had two teams for a Baker University summer league and Luke took 20 girls to the Northwest Missouri State team camp.

The team didn't have a coach for the summer league, so Luke said that helped in that the girls had to assume leadership roles themselves, and it helped the team get closer to one another.

This all plays right into the Cardinals' and Snider's hands for a successful season this year. And they'll get tested right away.

Eudora opens up with the Paola Invitational, a tournament in which Tonganoxie and Paola, two state teams, are taking part. The team's opening game will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday against Piper.

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