Along the back halls of Ladue High School's beautifully-remodeled Neilsen Gymnasium, the rafters are filled with banners recognizing the accomplishments of all the Rams' sports teams throughout the years.
Conspicuously absent from the glorious lore of all-time Ladue sports is any mention of the girls basketball team ever winning districts and advancing into the state playoffs.
That's because it's never happened. Ever.
But this season, with a roster that features top college prospect Taylor Robinson at center and five other returning seniors, many local hoops experts believe this is the year the Ladue girls finally grab their first district championship.
"Well, that's one of the goals," head coach Cord Dockery said. "With six seniors coming back, we're expecting a good run this year. This'll be the most experienced team I've ever had on the floor. I know our schedule is a little more difficult, but I would expect, if we keep playing hard and don't have any injuries, we should have a pretty good year."
No matter how good the Rams might be this season, being better than 20-6 will be hard to top. But that's what Ladue's record was last season, and Dockery said his team's always shoot for being better than they were the season before.
"(Our schedule gives us) a good mix," Dockery said. "Obviously, we're not one of the bigger schools. But we do try to go in and bang with them and get that experience, because obviously, we're going to see some of those bigger schools in districts."
One thing that helps with banging with the bigger schools is Ladue already has one of the best inside banger players in the area in Robinson, a powerful 6'3 center, who averaged 20.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.8 blocked shots a game last year.
Just last month in fact, Robinson gave a verbal commitment to play basketball at Temple University in Philadelphia.
"We're so excited for her," Dockery said. "With her size and ability, she's been great for us. She gives us that inside threat, and she probably shoots that 10- to 15-footer better than anybody on the team. She's got good feet. She's got good hands. She's obviously one of the better players I've ever coached."
Joining Robinson on the floor this season, will frontcourt mates Katherine DeBoer (6'0), Elizabeth Greenberg (5'10), and Natalie Grimm (5'11) -- all three capable of scoring down low if opponents overplay too much on Robinson.
In the backcourt, Nicole McNichols (5'4) will be called upon to run the point for the Rams, with fellow senior Logan Meeks (5'8) and sophomores Kaitlynn Walker (5'7), Cate Meyer (5'6), and Jelissa Puckett (5'6) also expected to help out.
Junior JV call-ups Olivia Grimm, Elyse Mack, and Jessica Marmol are also in the mix of possible contributors for the Rams this season.
"The key for us will be getting more people involved in the offense," Dockery said. "Everybody knows Taylor can score, and teams are going to try to take that away. What we need to be able to do is have other people step up and score for us when the opportunity is there.
"Defensively, we've been pretty good, and I expect that to continue. We've got a good team, and I really expect us to have a fun year."
Ladue will open its season on Tuesday, November 20, when the Rams will travel out to West County to take on the girls from Whitfield High.
The Lady Warriors were 17-10 last year, and made it to the state quarterfinals. This year, they bring back their own standout senior with tremendous scoring prowess, in 5'10 wing player Stephanie Anderson.
"(She's a) nice player, and we're going to have to play well over there to win," Dockery said.
UPCOMING LADUE RAMS GIRLS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 20 at Whitfield 6 p.m.
Dec. 4 vs. Pattonville 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 7 vs. Parkway North 7 p.m.
Dec. 11 at John Burroughs 7 p.m.
Dec. 14 at Parkway West 7 p.m.
Dec. 18 vs. Notre Dame 6 p.m.