On Friday, the Sun interviewed Girls Basketball Head Coach Beau Swopes.

Q. How’s your team this year?

We are kind of low on numbers this year. We’ve got one senior. We don’t have any juniors. We will have three sophomores when Morgan Mitchell gets back from cross country. We will have six freshmen when Hannah Sweigert? gets back from cross country state. So we have 10 or 11 girls right now.

Q. Are you ranked yet?

No, I don’t even know when the rankings come out and that is not something I’m really worried about. It doesn’t mean anything until you get to the end of the season anyway. Right now, we are just worried about ourselves and getting  ourselves prepared for the season and trying to figure out what we’re going to be like and who we’re going to be.

Even though we are low in numbers, the girls are coming in every day and we’re working hard trying to develop an identity for our team.

Q. How do they look? You’ve been at this a few years. You’ve seen a championship team. So you know what it looks like.

Every year we come in a little rusty. So many of our girls play fall sports. I only have one girl this year who didn’t do something in the fall, so we let them focus on those fall sports. These first couple of weeks we let them come in and kinda knock the rust off, I guess.

In all the years I’ve done it, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a group come in and just look great the first week. That’s probably a good thing. It’s not the time of year I want to peak. As long as we are progressing I feel pretty good.   We’re got some girls who are shooting the ball probably better than they did last year. We’ve got some young girls stepping up and ready to produce for us.

Q. Did you get some volleyball girls?

Yes, we got quite a few volleyball girl and softball girls. And, o f course, we are still waiting on track girls. We’ve got five volleyball girls out of what would be our 10, two cross country kids and three softball kids. We’ve go a mixture of a little bit of everything right now.

Q. Well, I would think, and you can tell me if it’s true, that having been in another sport, they’d be in shape already.

They are in shape, not necessarily basketball shape. There’s a difference.  The coaches do a good job of getting their kids in shape, but basketball is a little bit different game. Out cross country girls that come back from state. They will be in shape and able to run a long time. They just may not be able to run the same type as we normally do. It takes a little bit of a transition, but they are working hard at it. I can see they are already getting better.

Q. Do they get shin splints running on the hard floor where they are used to running on dirt?

Our cross country kids? I haven’t had a ton of kids from cross country. They ones I have had have transitioned pretty well. Around town they run a lot of streets and hard surfaces. This my year 11 as the girls’ coach. I had one girl get really back shin splints. That was last year. It was the first time I had to deal with somebody that had shin splints that caused them to not be able to perform as well as they were capable of.

With shin splints you have to take time off or you’re not going to get over it.

Q. Is this your 11th year or your 12th year?

I think this is year 11. That’s how I know I’m getting old.

Q. And you had a state championship team. I recall that well.

Yes, that was in 2014. The girls have high expectations. It’s one of those special things. It doesn’t happen that often. That’s something every team in Missouri is striving  for, to get back there or at least to get one.

We’re gong to have our work cut out for us. We’ll just go out and compete every day ad get better aand repare ourselves for the first game rather than the last gave.

Q. What conference are we in now?

They went back to the original name which was the Ozark Highlands Conference.

Q. When is your first game?

We will go to a jamboree in Neosho for three games – Neosho, Lamar and Southwest on Nov. 21. Our first official game will be Nov. 26 at Adrian. Our first home game will be Dec. 16 against Warsaw, our first conference home game.

Q. How does the height of the team look?

We are pretty long. This is probably the tallest team I’ve had from top to bottom.  I’ve got a lot of girls in that 5 foot 8 range to 5 fot 11. So heightwise, we’ll be OK. We’ve got several girls that are pretty long and athletic. That definitely helps.

I talked about that yesterday in practice how our length could help ud and create some problems for other teams. So we just need to get our girls to use that to our advantage and play like 5 foot 10 girls instead of like 5 foot 3 girls.

.Q. I remember well sitting under the basket at state when Maddy Mays brought the ball down the court, stopped and dropped in the first 3 pointer.

It certainly makes the game easier when you can hit from the outside. We’ll try to do that this year. Basketball has transitioned into shooting threes and making layups.

Everybody is doing that now.

We work on a semi regular basis of shooting  under that pressure at game speed.

Q. How do you think you’re going to do?

We are young. I’m not going to use that as an excuse for not playing well.  We’ve got girls who have played a lot of basketball. They are excited about getting out there and playing. Young girls will step up an fill roles that they are not used to. We want to go out there and compete every single night and do as well as we possibly can. I have high expectations for them but I don’t know if they are as high as what they have for themselves.

Q. Will this be your first year in a conference?

We played in a conference last year and wound up getting second. We were going pretty well until the last week and we dealt with some injuries and some sickness and didn’t play as well as we were capable of.

Q. I’d like to see you go all the way.

I would, too. But we will  probably be a Class 3 school and the last few years Class 3 schools have been some of the elite schools. Strafford won four in a row. Mt/ Vernon has been there a few times. We were there. Stockton has been there. So there is definitely some competition in this are for us to get to that point.

The size rankings won’t come out until next week. We’ve typically been in the middle of Class 3 because of our enrollment. I’d expect us to be in that same spot again.