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Mill Valley High School senior leads Jaguars' new culture

Emree Zars taking her teammates to new heights
Lady Jags
Posted at 9:38 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 23:48:23-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Heading into her senior year, Mill Valley High School's Emree Zars said she was "gifted" a new head coach and a new opportunity.

According to Zars, it was a chance to turn her basketball team's culture around and hopefully create a successful season.

First year head coach Adam Runyan, shared how his team found their new identity during game one this season.

"We were down at the time and there was a timeout, and I just looked into the girls eyes during the timeout and I was just like 'We can go one way or the other here, we can step up to the challenge or we can break.'" Runyan said.

Zars heard those words and immediately stepped up to the challenge, rallying her teammates to push just a little more.

"No matter what's going on in life, no matter if it's someones feeling down or whatever, like whatever happens you just need to persevere and we fight in the game no matter what," Zars said.

The Jags did just that.

Mill Valley girl's basketball went on to win their first game of the season under their new motto, "Never Break."

Zars said in the locker room after the game her team realized this just might be their year.

"Hey we can do this, this year," Zars said. "We are a good team and if we go out and do what we can then we are gonna have a couple wins."

Not just a couple wins, the Jags finished the regular season with eight wins after only seven wins in the past two seasons combined.

Runyan said their success is much thanks to players and leaders like Zars.

"Emree sets the bar and she sets the bar high, and you know that's what you want," Runyan said. "You know there is always that trickle down effect and when you have your seniors as leaders that are setting an example that we want to be here all the time."

The William Jewell commit averaged about 18 points per game this season and over 10 rebounds per game, finishing in the top of her league.

"None of us have expected to do as well as we are right now and I couldn't ask for a better head coach," Zars said.

Runyan can't help but sing her praises as well.

"This is probably one of the more fun seasons I've had coaching in my career and it's because of them and it's because of girls like Emree," Runyan said.

Mill Valley played Shawnee Heights Wednesday night in the first round of the 5A Sub State winning 48-44 and will now play for the sub state championship on Saturday.

Emree led the team with 27 points and 12 rebounds.