ST. JOSEPH, Mo.
The high school basketball season is right around the corner. It all begins Friday night at the Civic Center for the high school Jamboree.
For the Benton Lady Cardinals, they bring back a loaded roster after graduating just a few seniors off last season's squad.
"I think we know what we are at this point where some other teams in the area are still trying to figure some things out, but I still think we're going to be one of those teams that's going to get better as the season progresses," head coach Brett Goddwin said.
"We know our roles, we know who can do what, our skill levels and I think we're going to work really well together," added forward Kennady Ruffcorn.
The Lady Cardinals will be a well-rounded group this year and will get a boost with the return of Bailey Russell.
She missed the last two seasons, thanks to ACL tears in both knees but is back, better than ever.
"I feel the best I've ever felt honestly," Russell said. "They both feel good, I don't have any pain in there anymore, knock on wood, but they feel good, I feel good."
"She's doing an outstanding job of being active, trying to get a feel for the game again and really just getting settled in," Goodwin said of Russell's return. "I think that's the biggest part for her as we've been going to this point."
"It's really amazing to see how far she's come from not being able to do anything to where she is now," Ruffcorn said.
For Russell, the comeback is nearly complete.
"I'm ready to play," she said. "I've been sitting out for nine months now and I'm just ready to get back out there and I'm ready to be out there with my team."
This team is ready for Friday night, but only one thing is going to going to concern Goodwin, and it isn't wins or losses.
"Seeing the kids in action, seeing how they handle situations and things like that is going to be most critical for us," he said.
The Jamboree will get underway at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center in St. Joseph.