Prep Girls Basketball

Payson girls hope to return to Redbird Arena with Western co-op

Western's Aftyn Harrison and Payson-Seymour's Kamryn Flesner fight for a rebound during Western's girls basketball game at Payson High School on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 14, 2017 12:01 am

KINDERHOOK, Ill. -- Haley Hickerson admitted she's not used to her new look.

"It's different," she said. "The red is growing on me."

Hickerson had worn Payson Seymour blue during the first three years of her prep basketball career. Payson Seymour now has joined a co-op with Western, and the Wildcats' red and white is being used for the uniforms.

Hickerson, however, has already adjusted to her new teammates.

"It's new," she said. "But it's fun. I think we'll have a good season."

Western-Payson will have catching up to do.

Monday night's practice was the first nearly full practice for the team because of the Payson Seymour volleyball team's run to the Class 1A state championship. That didn't finish until Saturday, which meant players like Kamryn Flesner and Riley Epperson had not been at practice. Western-Payson was originally scheduled to have its season-opener Monday against Winchester West Central, but that game was postponed to Wednesday to allow for extra days of practice.

The first official day of practice was two weeks ago. In Monday night's practice, Epperson, Tori Schieferdecker and Alex Quinn had their first basketball practice. Western-Payson coach Elizabeth Seals allowed Flesner to take the day off to still recover from the state championship run.

"She just needs to rest," Seals said. "They're emotionally exhausted."

Seals isn't worried about the lack of full practices.

"(The Payson players) are skilled enough. They can catch on really quickly," Seals said. "But we might be a little behind in chemistry. We have never played together."

The Wildcats believe they can be a dangerous team.

The starting lineup will feature Lindenwood University commit Blair Borrowman, as well as talented ball handlers in Hickerson, Flesner, Aftyn Harrison and Anna Melton. Seals is especially excited for the post presence brought by Epperson, who's listed at 5-foot-11.

"I'm so thrilled," Seals said. "She gives us a post that we've been lacking. When you put Riley in there, she's strong and she can score."

The Wildcats plan to push the ball in transition, and their quickness should make them stingy on defense.

"Our defense has potential to be really tough this year," Borrowman said. "That's something Western has struggled with since I've been here. If you put us together, I think we can be really chaotic and be a problem for a lot of teams."

They hope that leads them to the ultimate goal.

"We want to win a state championship," Hickerson said.

"We want to get to Redbird Arena," Borrowman said. "With the co-op, we know that can be a realistic goal even though we're (Class 2A). A regional championship is very, very realistic."