Indiana girls basketball starts next week and local Wabash River Conference teams have more than just Covid-19 to worry about.
Most of the teams are young teams that hope to find their identities very quickly.
North Vermillion lost three starters from last season, but with 60 percent of its scoring back, coach Mark Switzer said that the two returning starters, senior Mackenzie Crowder and junior Ava Martin, is something to build on.
“Mackenzie is the only senior on the team and Ava is a junior. We have another junior, Cami Pearman, who played a lot last year and a sophomore, Callie Naylor, who played a lot last year and they were our guards,” Switzer said. “I think we are going to be young to begin with. Once we get past those top four players, you are going to reach into players that did not play much in the varsity level last year. We have Megan Davis, who has grown a little bit and she has played a lot better through the summer and practice. She is starting to develop and I think she will contribute.”
Crowder is the team’s top returning scorer at 15.4 points per game, while Martin is the top returning rebounder at 6.2 rebounds per game.
Quarantine has hurt the Falcons, but Switzer said the team and the school has been fairly fortunate.
“We had a couple of girls that have had to quarantine and I have a player and a manager that is quarantining now,” Switzer said. “We have been fortunate to not going to e-learning and the kids have done a great job keeping their masks on and keeping social distancing. “
Even though Switzer is wary about the season, he is happy that the players are ready to get some experience.
“If we get to play, we are going to get in and continue to try to develop our young players and get them time in the varsity level,” Switzer said. “I feel that we will start out with stiff competition in the beginning. We may struggle the first four or five games, but then I think you will start to see some chemistry and getting better and to win some games before Christmas.”
The Falcons start the season Thursday against North Putnam.
Covington also has a fairly young team, but coach Travis Brown sees improvement from every one.
“We have three seniors, six juniors, six sophomores and six freshmen,” Brown said. “So far, they have had really good attitudes; they are working real hard and getting better every day.
“We have Holly Linville returning and she started to play well near the end of the season. She was great on offense and she ended up guarding the best player on the other team. We used her strength and athleticism. We have Briley Peyton coming back in her second season starting. She has been working on her shot and it looks good right now. Shiann Haymaker started from the beginning of last year and she is a bigger body for us and she plays rea hard and understands the game.”
As far as newcomers, Brown is looking for Karsyn Engle to lead the offense.
“She is going to take over the point guard role. She can handle the ball well and makes good decisions,” Brown said. “Kenzie Richardson has played a little bit of varsity and may become a starter for us. She can play some on the ball defense and she is strong.”
Brown said the quarantining have tried to slow down the development of the team.
“Right now, we are on our ninth day of practice. We have 21 girls on the roster and we had a few girls miss practice for quarantining issues,” Brown said. “How this will affect us down the road, we don’t know. Hopefully, when they come back, they can jump in and learn how the other girls are taught. “
The Trojans’ first game is set for Nov. 7 against Clinton Prairie.
Seeger only graduated two players from last season, but they were two major players in Kiley White and Emily Shrader.
“They made up about 60 percent of our scoring and 70 percent of our rebounding, so we have a lot of questions,” Seeger coach Brent Rademacher said. “Avery Cole has been a starter for three years and played varsity as a freshman, Allison High has been a starter for a couple of years and Izzi Puterbaugh came off the bench for us. They are really nice players and will do a real good job for us.
“Riley Shrader is a junior returning as a starter and we have Hannah Wheeler, who is a junior and a big, sizable player. We have several sophomores vying for starting spots: Aubry Cole, a really nice player and played varsity for us, Macy Kerr, Paige Laffoon and Hannah Moore.”
Practices have been fun and have given Rademacher an idea about answering the questions.
We are getting some of them answered. Our practices have been very competitive. The players don’t know where they are going yetand we are not sure where they are going yet as well, but the practices have been fun.”
Rademacher said that it will be tough going after a slow summer, but he is confident that the team will get started early.
“This summer, we had four open gyms and normally we would have 8-10, so we were not able to do as much as we usually do and we didn’t play any games,” Rademacher said. “We have scrimmage on Saturday (against North Newton) and our first game is on Tuesday (against Rossville). The good thing is that we have a lot of players that know the system for a least of year and that has made things easier.”
The Patriots will take on Rossville for their opener on Tuesday.
Fountain Central will also be a young team, but return experience in leading scorer Dakota Borman (14.7 points per game last season, 5.2 rebounds per game) and Gracie Foxworthy (6.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
We have five returners with a lot of experience returning in Dakota, Gracie, Jerzi Hershberger, Larissa Bowers and Marley Massey, but after that we have a lot of inexperience,” Fountain Central head coach Jason Good said. “We have a freshman in Casey Kirkpatrick that will be out sixth man and she is a physical player.”
Good, who is also the school’s Athletics Director, said that the team and the school has been dealing with Covid very well.
“We started with a lot of people in quarantine, but we have kept everything down and everyone has been wearing mask and have used social distancing,” Good said.
Good is looking for new options on offense that will help out Borman.
“Shooting is not our strong suit and we are working on that,” Good said. “We have Jerzi and she will be out point guard and I tell her that she has to step up and do a little more.”
I feel overall that we have a good mix of size and speed and I think we will do well.”
The Mustangs start the season on Tuesday against Faith Christian.