Perry girls basketball set to kick off season in new conference

Sean Cordy, Correspondent
Special to the Chief
Lydia Olejniczak looks to move around a Carlisle player on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.

One of the most attractive parts of Perry moving into a new conference was the current landscape of the Heart of Iowa compared to the Raccoon River that featured two state tournament teams last season. Now in the HOI for the first season, how will the Jayettes handle the transition?

Returning

In her first year taking over the reins as the go-to shooter, Lydia Olejniczak hardly disappointed as she improved from 10 to 13.4 points per game as a sophomore while averaging 6.8 rebounds per game. She also led the team with 1.8 steals per game and was the team's most efficient free throw shooter. 

With another year under her belt, it will be no surprise to see the star junior's production rise again. Outside of the Raccoon River, she averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and five steals per game.

The team's second-leading scorer, Jayna Kenney, saw similar boosts in her stats going from 4.3 points per game against the RRC to an average of 10 points in non-conference games. Beyond that duo, Perry has to replace four players that played in at least 15 games. 

Jayna Kenney looks to go around a South Hamilton player on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.

Conference

While the conference isn't filled from top-to-bottom like the RRC has been, the Heart of Iowa comes with its own share of success stories like Roland-Story, who qualified for the state tournament after going 11-0 in the conference and 17-5 overall. After the Norsemen, only Nevada and West Marshall had winning records while the rest of the conference fell below .500 both in the league and overall standings.

Of the biggest names in the conference, there's a fair amount of turnover considering 22 of the top 50 scorers graduated. But those were largely role players, as the league leaders were dominated younger talent. 

Out of West Marshall, Katy Reyerson dominated the conference with 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore. She's joined by two more rising juniors among the top 11 scorers. Roland-Story also has high hopes to stay on top of the conference with their top two producers also returning to the court.