Stokes, Skiles showing strong at Missouri Southern

Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Madi Stokes, Cassville graduate now playing basketball at Missouri Southern State University, positions for a shot in the Lady Lions’ game against Fort Hays State. Last week, Stokes set a single-game record of 31 points and 21 rebounds against Rogers State. Contributed photo

Local graduates setting records, lead team in minutes played

Two local basketball players are roaring at the collegiate level, as one has set a single-game points and rebounds school record, and another is leading the team in minutes played.

Sophomore center Madi Stokes and junior guard Layne Skiles, Cassville and Purdy graduates, respectively, are playing big roles for the Missouri Southern State University women’s basketball team.

Layne Skiles, Purdy graduate now playing basketball at Missouri Southern State University, puts up a shot in the Lady Lions’ game against Fort Hays State. Skiles leads MSSU in minutes on the floor, free throw percentage and three-point percentage. Contributed photo

In last week’s contest against Rogers State University, Stokes led the team in points, with a career high 31, and rebounds, pulling down 21. It was her fourth double-double of the season, and she was only three blocks away from a triple-double.

The totals were also a first in Lady Lions history, as no previous player has scored 30 and rebounded 20 in a single game. Her 7 blocks also tied the single-game school record. MSSU won the contest in overtime, 81-78.

“I was pretty surprised I had done that well, because I was just there to play basketball,” Stokes said. “When we went into overtime, I was just focused on not fouling out because I had four fouls. I was surprised at the totals because I didn’t realize all that while I was playing.”

Stokes is No. 2 on the team with 11.7 points per game, and she leads the team with 12.1 rebounds per game. She also boasts the team’s highest field goal percentage at 54.6. Stokes said she is seeing the floor a lot more this year because of her experience and the work she put in last summer.

“I am posting harder in the paint and getting open for better paths to pass better,” she said. “Games like that also motivate me because I know I am capable of doing it. It helps me have confidence to call for the ball, score and help my team win.”

Ronnie Ressel, MSSU head coach, said Stokes’ growth has been noticeable.

“The game is really starting to slow down for her,” Ressel said. “We always say high school players coming into college have trouble with how fast the game is, but for her, it’s slowing down and she’s a lot more patient making decisions. She is doing a great job catching the ball in the low block and finishing.

“She’s also doing a great job chasing rebounds. She had a lot last year, but most would just come to her. This year, she is going and getting them on offense and defense, and she’s learning how to tip them to herself. That’s where you can see her confidence growing.”

While Stokes has produced a few headlines, Skiles has played a different role on the team — leader on the floor.

Skiles leads the Lady Lions in minutes per game at 28.7. She averages 5.7 points per game, fifth in the lineup, and sports the highest free throw percentage at 83.3 and highest three-point percentage at 35.7.

“We have almost a whole new team from last year, and we work really well together,” Skiles said. “I have grown most in my leadership abilities on the floor and getting our team chemistry where it needs to be. I know how our team runs, how our coaches coach, and they have pushed me to be a more vocal leader this year.

“There is also a lot of trust in me to take care of the ball and know what’s going on, being that rock on the floor for us.”

Ressel said Skiles has improved her game on both ends of the floor and is one of the team’s best defenders.

“She slides her feet and boxes out well, and that allows Madi to go get those rebounds,” he said. “Layne understands our offensive flow, and that affects how she runs the floor and sets screens to get teammates open. She doesn’t score a ton, but she does all the little things to make her teammates successful.”

The Lady Lions are 6-8 on the season and will be at home again on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against Lincoln University.

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