DAVENPORT — Davenport West Coach Frank Dexter had the most colorful definition of his team at Friday's Mississippi Athletic Conference girls basketball luncheon at the RiverCenter. But he's not alone in his assessment.
Joined at the lectern by sophomores Jessica Chalupa and Allie Poston, Dexter told the Optimist Club members and others in attendance what to expect this season.
"You're looking at probably the kind of team we're going to have this year — very, very young," he said. "Ordered a lot of pacifiers and Pampers before the season began because I know how young we're going to be."
Several other teams also will have some growing pains after graduating players who have been all-state caliber for the past several years.
Among the hardest-hit teams was MAC co-champion Davenport North, which came within seven points of making its second consecutive trip to the state tournament despite a late-season injury to star player Jinaya Houston. Houston made it back for the finale and dropped in 31 points, but she and fellow first-team all-conference player Jacionna Stowers both graduated after re-energizing the Wildcats' program for four years.
"We do have two seniors who have been playing since they were freshmen," first-year North Coach Matt Hoeppner said, referring to 2017 MAC Player of the Year Paige Bradford and Coral Dillie, both of whom accompanied him to the luncheon.
Defending Class 4A state champion North Scott lost first-team all-conference standout Karli Rucker, now playing at Northern Iowa. Davenport Assumption also lost a first-team all-conference player in 2017 graduate Jasmine Harris.
Clinton Coach Andy Eberhart is hoping that the MAC's youth movement can help the River Queens. They tied Burlington for seventh in the conference last year at 4-12.
"I'm kind of optimistic about this team," he said. "They're working hard. We've got not great numbers, but the ones we do have returning have a lot of experience."
Megan Gandrup and Sarah Goldensoph, the top two scorers from last year's 8-15 both return to lead the Queens. Eberhart brought Goldensoph to the luncheon, along with his daughters Madison and McKenna.
One coach didn't have to address graduation losses, however.
Pleasant Valley's Jennifer Goetz has everybody back from a 19-4 team that tied North for the league title.
"These (seniors) do things the right way," she said.
While rosters will be needed to identify all the new players, fans will have to print team schedules because the MAC schedule has changed.
Teams will play a complete 18-game, double-round-robin conference format. In the past teams played 16 conference games.
The addition of two conference games forced teams to remove two non-conference contests. For the River Queens, that meant ending the River Queen Classic that was played on Thanksgiving weekend.
Clinton opens the regular season on Monday, Nov. 20, at Central DeWitt.