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Prairie Home High School students went back to school last Wednesday, and sports and activities will soon be back in session. At Prairie Home Junior High, the Panthers and Lady Panthers basketball teams are about to begin a brand new season that many hope will be a season of cheers and success.

The head coach of both the boys and girls basketball teams at PHJH is sixth grade teacher Kelsey Schrader. Schrader is a new face for junior high basketball at Prairie Home, as this is her first season coaching the Panthers.

Schrader said both of her teams have had a long but productive offseason that could make a big difference throughout the season.

"We've had a very productive offseason. We've taken part in a few summer camps, we've also had several open gyms and weightlifting sessions," Schrader said. "We've spent most of our time in the gym working on a lot of defensive work and learning a couple of new plays over the summer."

Schrader said that both her boys and girls teams are very strong and they both come with many strengths to their game.

"Our boys team has many strengths to their game, which include ball handling skills, height, strength, athleticism, good communication with each other, seeing each other on the court, speed, respect for each other and me, and rebounding," Schrader said. "On the other hand, I have a strong girls team this year. It's very unique because I have eight eighth grade girls and one seventh grade girl. They're fun to coach because they have a willingness to learn, athleticism, good communication with each other, strong post players, respect for each other and me, and they're very good at rebounding."

Of course, it won't be an easy season for the Panthers and Lady Panthers. Both teams will once again have to follow COVID-19 and safety protocols throughout the season, as no game is promised. Aside from health and safety protocols, the Prairie Home teams will have the task of adjusting to the playing style and formats of a new head coach.

But a couple of standout players that have caught Schrader's attention during the summer are set to help the Panthers get on their feet and hit the hardwood running this fall.

"On our boys team, our standout players are Carter Pethan and Cooper Brown. Carter is very athletic, a hard worker, has great leadership skills, and he's a strong offensive and defensive player. Cooper is also very athletic, a hard worker, a strong offensive and defensive player, and he works well under pressure," Schrader said. "For our girl's team, it's Jordan Alpers and Ava Marcum. Jordan is a strong offensive and defensive player, a hard worker, has great leadership skills, reads the court well, and communicates to her team effectively, while Ava is a strong post player, (and) has a lot of potential to make a lot of points down low and get a lot of rebounds."

Prairie Home Junior High boys and girls basketball will soon be back in action, and they're raring to go. Their season tips off Sept. 21 when they travel to Westphalia for a double-header against the Fatima Junior High Comets.

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