Women’s basketball opens tomorrow at PSU Classic, signs 3 for ’09 class

Kim DeRaedt

In order for the women’s basketball Lions to distinguish themselves from the pack, they will need to excel at rebounding and rely on consistent performances from the point guard and post positions.

Missouri Southern Head Coach Maryann Mitts is excited to tip off the 2008-2009 campaign and showcase the talent that the womens basketball team prides itself on.

“This team seems to have great team chemistry,” Mitts said. “They all seem to get along well off the court, which is essential for any great team. Secondly, the fact that we have so many seniors on this year’s team makes it special as well.

“This is their last year to leave their legacy at Missouri Southern, and I know that hanging a banner in Leggett & Platt would be a great way for them to finish their careers.

“Lastly, up to this point, this group has been very coachable and had a tremendous work ethic. As coaches, we enjoy coaching this team!”

The team will return seven seniors, two juniors and one sophomore.

Mitts also announced the signing of Erin Rice, Kelby Fritz and Myriah Hicks to national letters of intent to play basketball at Southern beginning in the fall of 2009.

Rice, is a 6-2 forward from Cole Camp, Mo. She was a four-year starter on both the basketball and volleyball teams. She also played softball.

“Erin will be an extremely versatile player for our program,” Mitts said. “As she develops her strength and footspeed, she has the potential to be one of the most productive players to graduate from Missouri Southern.”

With a career 13.6 points per game average, Rice scored 15.0 per game last season as a junior, and added 3.9 rebounds per game average and 1.3 assists. She had 16 blocks and 66 steals on the season.

“At 6’2″, her athleticism will enable her to play every position on the floor,” Mitts said. “She currently plays the point for her high school team, however her strengths will allow her to be better suited for the guard and small forward positions at the collegiate level.”

Fritz is a 5’7 point guard from Vinita, Okla. Fritz has scored 852 career points and has helped her team to records of 19-7 and 27-1.

“Kelby is a true point guard with excellent court sense and passing ability,” Mitts said. “She has the opportunity to play immediately.”

This past year, Fritz averaged 11.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.1 steals. She shot 56 percent from the field, 38 percent from long range and 77 percent from the free throw line.

“Kelby is a winner,” Mitts said. “The quality of coaching she has received in high school and during the summer will be very beneficial as she transitions to the collegiate game.”

Hicks is a 5-4 guard from Springfield, Mo. She is a four-year starter for the Lady Bulldogs basketball team and also starts for the soccer team.

“Myriah is an aggressive and tough-nose competitor,” Mitts said. “It is her approach to the game that impressed our staff over.”

Hicks has led her team in field goal and free throw percentage the past two seasons.

“When watching Myriah play, one cannot help but notice her passion for the game,” Mitts said.

The Lions will travel to the Pittsburg State Classic this weekend where they will take on Southwestern, Kan. on Saturday before battling Paul Quinn on Sunday.

[Editor’s Note: MSSU Sports information contributed to this report.]