Lady Cats face former head coach

Cody Thorn

For the second time in her coaching career, Keri Nichols had to do something a little bit different.

She had to step onto a basketball court, look at the other sideline, and recognize almost all of the players.

The first time happened a few years back when Nichols went from being the head coach at Springfield Greenwood to being the head coach at Marionville.

On Monday night, the former Neosho coach faced off against her old team as the head coach of the Parkview Lady Vikings.

“It is hard you see those kids because you want them to do well,” said Nichols. “If you are cheering them on, you are cheering against your own team. I still love those kids. They worked hard for me and we had a lot of good times. It is hard in that sense, but I also have a relationship with the new kids as well.”

After leaving Neosho following the 2005-2006 season, Nichols took over as the head coach at Branson. After a year in the Central Ozark Conference, she stepped up to fill the void at Parkview.

And as the new coach of the Ozark Conference school, she saw one of the first games of this season would be against Neosho. What made the game more intriguing was that four of Neosho’s five starters Monday were starters or key players during Nichols’ tenure at Neosho High School.

That group included the Snow twins, Lorelei and Savannah, Kylie Fischer and Kisa Clark. The White twins, Amelia and Melanie, were on the junior varsity roster for Nichols.

“I had so many of these kids and it is exciting to see what they are doing,” Nichols said.  “I talked with Coach Young quite a bit before he took this job, telling him what a great group of kids he would have. I have a very high and vested interest in this group, because these kids as freshman and sophomores really stepped up into a hard situation and played their hearts out for me.”

Parkview won the game and afterwards Nichols offered up her scouting report, if you will, on what she noticed as a difference in the way the four starters since they played for her as freshmen and sophomores.

n  On the Snow twins: “Their ability to keep their composure has really improved and not fall apart when a mistake happens or the ball doesn’t go right.”

n On Clark: “Kisa does what Kisa always does — that is get on the floor and hustle. I told the kids we were down here there was four of us and Kisa. Kisa got the jump ball and got the possession back. She works her tail end off.”

n On Fischer: “Kylie has really improved her post game. I always knew she could hit the 3-pointer, but with the post stuff, she can do it and finish.”

After the game, Nichols had a chance to catch up with many of those players. As the last fans exited the gymnasium, Nichols was talking with the Snow twins and Kayln Vlasin, a freshman, about the game.

As unique as it was for the players and former coach to be squaring off head-to-head, it might not be the last time they see each other this year.

Neosho and Parkview are assigned to the same district when playoffs roll around.

Neosho Daily News