• Guenther is Patriots' unsung star

  • Ashley Guenther isn't the flashiest player in Eastern Jackson County. But the Truman High School senior is making a case for being the best.

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  • Ashley Guenther isn't the flashiest player in Eastern Jackson County.
    But the Truman High School senior is making a case for being the best.
    “I was visiting with someone the other day,” said Truman Hall of Fame girls basketball coach Pete Hile, who is now an assistant activities director at the high school, “and we were talking about the best players in the area.
    “I was disappointed that more people don't think Ashley is one of the best players, because she is having a great year. And she's not getting a lot of attention.”
    When that comment was forwarded to Truman coach Steve Cassity, he grinned and then nodded in agreement.
    “Ashley is a great athlete, a great player and a great kid,” Cassity said after Guenther scored 16 points to lead the 10-0 Patriots to a 53-36 victory over Noland Road rival William Chrisman in the I-Town Showdown at the Independence Events Center on Dec. 22.
    “She fits in so well with this team, and does so many things that you don't notice – diving for loose balls, getting big offensive and defensive rebounds, scoring when you really need a point – those are the things a coach notices, and appreciates.”
    Even opposing coaches notice those things.
    “Ashley is certainly one of the best players in the area, and the state,” Chrisman coach Lindsay Thompson said after Guenther dominated her squad.
    “First off, she's a great kid,” Thompson said. “I've watched her play a long time, and she does everything well. And Steve's team is full of talent, and all the girls know their roles. And I agree with you – she can do just about anything you need. And that is a valuable player to have on your team.”
    Guenther, who averages about 15 points and eight rebounds a game according to Cassity, has been playing basketball since her family signed her up to compete in the Independence Youth Athletic Association leagues when she was 4.
    “I was the tall girl,” joked the now 6-foot Guenther, “so I was pretty good when back then. I played for fun, but then I really learned to love the sport.”
    She also played volleyball until her sophomore year. Then she decided to concentrate on the sport she now dominates.
    “What I love about playing at Truman is my teammates and our coaches,” Guenther added. “We’re 10-0. That’s amazing! And it's so much fun. This has been a dream season, and playing at the Events Center with all the fans here and beating a big rival like Chrisman is the perfect way to go into the Christmas break.
    “Now, we have to come back in January (the Patriots play host to St. Teresa’s Academy at 7 p.m. Thursday) and play with the same desire. We have to keep working hard, because we know this can be a special season.”
    Page 2 of 2 - A special season, sparked by a special player.
    “Ashley doesn't know how good she can be,” teammate Kayla Harrell said. “She's our leader, and we have a lot of good players and strong leaders. But Ashley is the player who makes us go.”

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