Can Union native Grant Young lead the Union basketball Lady ’Cats to victory this season?

Young, who has a very successful record during his career, takes over the Union girls basketball program this season from Jolene Smith.

“I am very excited to bring my coaching experience back to my hometown,” Young said. “Being a hometown kid I would love for the community to support what we have going as a program.”

Young has a 237-129 record as a head coach, which includes girls coaching stints at Wheatland, Neosho and Purdy. He also coached the Wheatland boys.

Young last was at Purdy High School, which he led to a 73-17 record and a Class 2 state title in 2011. He was named Missouri Basketball Coaches Association and Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Class 2 girls coach of the year that season.

He also coached the Wheatland boys to a MSHSAA Class 1 state tournament in 2002.

At Purdy, Young also was the school’s athletic director. And, at Wheatland, he coached both the boys and girls teams. He also has girls coaching experience with Neosho and won a district title there.

Young’s assistant coaches are Collin Flynn, Nick Kelley and Tracy Jefferies.

Young has a seasoned group for this campaign with the Lady ’Cats. Of the 12 players on the varsity team, 11 played last season with Union’s top level squad. Union had only one major loss to graduation, guard Taylor Timmons, who averaged 5.6 points , 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 assists per game.

Union returns everyone else.

Quickness should be a positive for the team while height could be a disadvantage. Union’s tallest player is 5-11 with two others at 5-10 and two more at 5-9. “The players have bought into the high-intensity level and tempo of the system we are implementing,” Young said. “At the offensive end we have worked extensively on the dribble drive motion. We have potent outside threats and quick penetrators that can get to the hoop. Defensively we have incorporated our hybrid match-up zone. The girls have really enjoyed learning the new defensive style. Our aggressiveness will allow our match-up to extend and eliminate the size discrepancy in a lot of teams we face. Our size will be a weakness, but if we work on blocking out well we can utilize our quickness during transition.”

Sophomore Bethany Coons came up early in her freshman season to score 11.1 points per game while adding 2.1 steals per contest. She’s a projected starter at a guard position.

Senior forward Rachael Bassett was second in scoring last year at 11.0 points. She led the team in rebounding with 6.8 boards per contest. Bassett will start at the post position. She has the chance to reach 1,000 points for her career this season.

Senior Alyssa Coons averaged 9.7 points and 1.9 steals per game last season and projects to start at the point guard spot.

Senior Abbie Brack averaged seven points and 2.2 rebounds last season. She is a returning guard starter.

Union has only three forwards this season with Bassett, senior Jillian Johnston (1.4 points, 1.4 rebounds per game) and junior Maddy Weinhold listed to play forward.

The rest of the team consists of guards.

Senior Briana Lakebrink played in 17 games last year.

Junior Kaila AuBuchon was in 20 varsity games last season.

Junior Megan Altemueller saw action in three varsity games. She will start the season as a swing player on both the varsity and JV teams.

Senior Whitney Vitt, the team’s tallest player, was on last year’s team but left early in the season after averaging 10 points per game. She projects to start at the shooting forward spot.

Junior Anna Houston was on the roster last year but did not have any stats. She will see action with the JV team as well.

The only varsity newcomer is junior guard Ali Overschmidt (JV-varsity swing player this season), although sophomores Bri Clark, Kayla Kelly, Hannah Lopez and Emily Nowak also could see some playing time.

Even Kara Poole, who saw action in eight games last season, is back with the program as a student assistant. Other student assistants are Kirsten Dierberg and Jerica Reeser.