The Tri-Central women’s basketball team had a memorable 2020-21 season, posting a 15-9 record and winning their fourth section title in six years.
Now the Trojans have big holes to fill after the graduation losses of KT All-Area players Kenadie Fernung and Brittany Temple. Fernung averaged 21.2 points and 3.4 steals per game and ended her career as TC’s second-all-time leading scorer with 1,481 points. Temple averaged 11.2 points, 4.6 assists and 3 steals.
“After losing two exceptional seniors, we have some return experience, but their roles need to expand,” said second-year coach Mathew Corn. “I think they’re trying to understand each other and we’re trying to figure out how to put them in the best possible position. We have the work ethic and the talent, but now you have to put them together to be successful.
In Miami County, Maconaquah is knocking on the door of a winning season, led by outstanding guard Lilly Maple, and Peru are looking to bounce back with several experienced players.
Here is the season outlook for the three teams.
TC has already played three games. After losses to Frankton and Cascade, the Trojans beat Henryville 45-19 for their first victory. The last two games were on Saturday in the Morristown tournament.
“After three games I think we are in the process of determining where the score will come from this year,” said Corn. “I think we have five or six players who could lead us to score on any given night. Karley Leininger has kind of started to take the lead in this area, but we have several girls who could step up.
Leininger, a 5-6 junior goaltender, averaged 5.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3 steals per game last season. She finished third on the team in terms of scores.
Also back for the Trojans, junior forward / guard Gracie Grimes (3.9 points, 4.6 rebounds), 5-7 junior forward Allie Younce (3.9 points, 4.6 rebounds), 5-3 junior forward Megan Conner (3.5 points), 5-5 junior guard Abby Hoback (2.3 points) and 5-7 sophomore forward Elaynna Young (1.4 points).
Corn also has 5-8 sophomore center Natalie Newcom and 5-3 senior guard Alyssa Browning. Newcom is a transfer and Browning is new to basketball.
“We will have to rely on our defense until our attacking roles can be established,” said Corn. “We have a group that works very hard on this side of the pitch, which allows me to be flexible with our different defenses. We’re not incredibly big, but we have a squad that is ready to play physically and outdo an opponent. “
In the Hoosier Heartland conference, Corn sees Clinton Prairie and Carroll as the favorites after finishing 1-2 last season. He also sees Taylor as a possible candidate.
“Getting conference wins is never easy, but our goal is always to be in the top half of the conference and compete for the conference title,” he said. “Winning a section title and more are also goals we have for the season. We believe we have a group that should compete for the section title and hopefully progress further than last year’s regional semi-final loss.
The Trojans are the hosts of Sectional Class A 55. The other teams are Anderson Prep, Cowan, Daleville, Liberty Christian and Wes-Del.
TC is visiting Tipton this evening.
The Braves went 10-10 last season, ending a streak of 12 consecutive seasons under 0.500. They’ll be looking to move up the north side of the .500 this season with senior 5-7 playmaker Lilly Maple in the lead. She averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.1 steals per game last season, earning second-team KT All-Area honors.
Coach Terry West noted Maple is positioned to become the program’s all-time leading scorer. She starts the season with 1182 points.
“Lilly Maple is one of the best young women I have ever had the privilege of coaching,” he said. “His basketball skills and knowledge are out of the ordinary. She is a three-sport athlete who is very good at everything she does. She would become one of the greatest basketball players in Maconaquah history.
The Braves also sack senior 5-10 forward Alexandra Merritt (6.1 points, 7.0 rebounds) and 6-3 sophomore Lauren Merritt (3.4 points, 4.0 rebounds) from their regular rotation. . Additionally, senior 5-3 goaltender Molly North is back after a knee injury limited her to six games last season. West called her the team’s defensive specialist.
Junior 5-8 forward Courtney Stoll, 5-9 second-year forward Miranda Stoll and 5-5 second-year guard Bailey Carson are looking for bigger roles this season.
Senior 5-5 guard Averi Miller, who is back after taking time off last season to focus on volleyball, as well as senior forward / center Ava Snyder, 5-5, second-year forward Shaelyn Powell, 5-6 second year guards Sydney Barnes and 5-4 second year guards Hallie Maiben.
“Our players have taken our ‘team first’ approach,” said West. “We have great young women working together and working hard to improve every aspect of their game. We’re looking to score a lot of points on the scoreboard and defend the 84-footer with intensity and determination. “
Maconaquah hopes to attend the Three Rivers conference. The Braves are tied for fifth in the 10-team league last season with a 5-4 record.
“The TRC is wide open this year,” West said. “Four of our first five games are conference opponents, including our first game in Manchester [Saturday], followed by games against Rochester, Tippecanoe Valley and Northfield. We should have a clear idea of where we stand after this difficult first part of our conference season. “
The Braves are in Class 3A Sectional 22, which is at West Lafayette this season. Maconaquah and WL are joined by Benton Central Western, Twin Lakes and Peru.
The Bengal Tigers are looking to bounce back from a 4-16 record last season.
“COVID has not been kind to us,” coach David Weeks said. “The offseason went very well. The girls have spent a lot of time improving their individual skills which makes us better as a team. The practices are going well. The girls push each other hard. They see the potential to become a good team.
The Bengal Tigers return a good core of players led by 5-4 senior guard Cate Wolfe, who averaged 10.5 points and 3.7 rebounds last season. Junior guard 5-5 Emma Eldridge (6.6 points, 5.1 rebounds), junior guard 5-6 Brianna Bennett (5.0 points, 3.7 assists), junior forward 5-8 Maddie Norman (1.7 points) and senior 5-5 forward Jenna Watkins (1.4 points).
Senior forward Ava Caldwell 5-4, junior 5-6 forward Cameron Raber, 5-8 second-year forward Kaylene Kirk, 5-7 sophomore guard Brooklyn Garner, 5-7 second-year guard 4 Katy Converse and 5-0 are also part of the roster. first-year guard Sydney Azbell.
Peru struggled offensively last season, scoring just 39.5 points per game, but Weeks see the potential for better production this season.
“One strength we have for this year is that we are more balanced in scoring. We could have three double-digit girls in every game. Teams can’t focus on one or two players, ”Weeks said, noting improved shooting and vision on the pitch. “We can put more pressure on the defense than we have been able to in the past.”
Weeks said the TRC and Sectional 22 both appear competitive.
“I can’t think of a team that stands out from the rest,” he said. “We want to compete and have a chance for both titles. “
Peru are 0-2 after losing games to Oak Hill and Caston to open the season. The Tigers visit Culver Academy on Saturday.