Lady Panthers caravan rolls into Purdy
The Drury Lady Panthers caravan rolled into Purdy on Saturday morning and received a warm Eagles welcome.
A standing room-only crowd gathered in the fellowship hall of the First Baptist Church as community members took advantage of the opportunity to meet members of Drury's 2011-12 women's basketball squad, which now includes Shelby White, one of Purdy's own.
White, a member of the Purdy Lady Eagles' 2011 state championship squad, is now a freshman at Drury and was present on Saturday to sign autographs and mingle with her hometown fans.
Drury Coach Steve Harold addressed the crowd and introduced members of his coaching staff and team.
"Our expectations are high this year," said Harold, who is starting his fifth year at the helm of the Lady Panthers program. "This is a very athletic group. We have very talented returning players and very talented incoming players. We expect to go deep into the NCAA tournament."
Harold also bragged about his team's performance off the court. During the 2010-11 season, the women's basketball team had a 3.59 cumulative grade point average, which was the third best in the nation.
"We have high expectations for basketball and even higher ones for education," said Harold.
Harold also answered the most frequently asked question of the morning.
"Yes, Shelby will play," said Harold. "She had a strong season at the Courts (in Springfield) this summer and has established herself."
The group also heard from Barb Cowherd, a rural Purdy resident who serves as Drury's associate athletic director. She invited area residents to mark Tuesday, Nov. 22 on their calendars and plan to attend the women's basketball game against Washburn, which will be preceded by a high school game between the Purdy Lady Eagles and Exeter Lady Tigers.
Tickets are $5 and are good for both games.
The event ended with the Lady Panthers autographing team photos and signing T-shirts for their fans from Purdy.
"We hope you'll let Drury be your adopted team," said Harold.