Stout leads Lady 'Dogs into District

By Allen LaMountain

   With three local NAIA schools showing interest, Hampton senior point guard Kari Stout says she is leaning toward a collegiate career at Milligan College.
   Although schools like King College and Virginia Intermont College have shown interest, Stout says she is leaning toward Milligan for several reasons.
   "The Christian point of view is my main reason for looking at Milligan," said Stout. "What helps me is God and His influence on my life."
   Another reason for choosing Milligan is the relationship Stout had with Larry Blevins, whom Stout called, "A mentor to me, and the person who taught me basketball," and a promise Stout made to the late Blevins to try to play for the Lady Buffs.
   Stout, who is averaging better than 18 points a game, has helped lift the Lady Bulldogs to the second seed in Saturday's Region 1-2A District tournament where they will face Johnson County in round one.
   A candidate for Player-of-the-Year in the Watauga Conference, Stout has proven herself capable of playing a variety of roles with the Lady 'Dogs.
   "Kari can play anywhere from point to post," said Lady 'Dogs head coach Leslie Campbell. "She's a great rebounder and definitely has the all-around skills to play at the next level."
   In a February 5 contest against Elizabethton, Stout showcased her all-around skills by scoring a game-high 31 points and taking down eight rebounds as Hampton scored a 62-46 win that avenged an earlier two-point defeat to Betsy.
   In that contest Stout showed that she is not just a scorer as she provided some tough defense as well, sliding in to double-up on Cyclone post Beth Holtsclaw.
   Coming into that contest the Cyclones knew Stout would be a factor. So much so that EHS head coach Mike Wilson was stymied about how to best defense her saying, "We had a choice of playing zone defense and giving her the perimeter shot or playing man defense and letting her penetrate to the hoop."
   Other coaches impressed with Stout include Sullivan Central head coach Gary Surcey, who saw Stout light up his team for 32 points in the Lady Cougars 45-42 win at Van Huss / White gymnasium.
   "That girl can really shoot the rock," commented Surcey. "She is phenomenal."
   Hampton -- despite being swept by the Cougars -- is still feeling confident going into the District however as Stout said, "I think Central is the toughest team we have played, but if we use the talent we have here and play focused, we should be all right. I think that this team has peaked at the right time."
   Stout knows that the transition from prep to college is a big step, but feels that she has the capability to perform at that level saying, "I need to improve my jump shot. My ball handling could use some work and I'll work on rebounding better."
   Campbell feels that Stout is well prepared to play at the next level saying, "She probably needs to get a little stronger, but she is very coachable, she leads by example and is a good kid on and off the court."
   Stout merely shrugs at the suggestion of being named Player-of-the Year saying, "I have worked hard all year, but I think the team has done a really good job. It's not only me, it's a team thing and I would have to give thanks to my teammates."