TERRE HAUTE —
Just two regulars are back from a Terre Haute South girls high school basketball team that was 16-8 a year ago, but coach Cara Stuckey isn’t having negative thoughts as her Braves prepare to open the 2013-14 campaign Wednesday at the Terre Haute Savings Bank Tip-Off Tournament.
“The best thing is, I’ve got a great group of kids who make it fun to coach them every day,” Stuckey said recently. “We have a long way to go before I know how good we can be, but I know this is a group that will work hard to reach their potential.”
Leading returning scorer for South is 5-foot-10 sophomore Lauren Hambrock (7.8 points, 5.1 rebounds per game).
Also returning to the starting lineup is 5-7 senior hustler Kylie Fendrick (6.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2 assists per game), while tested reserves back are 5-7 junior Kayla Speth (2 points per game) and 5-4 sophomore Riley Davis (1.3 points. 1.7 rebounds, 1 assist per game).
The latter two are guards, but Hambrock and Fendrick are tougher to put a label on. Versatility will be a strength of the Braves, Stuckey indicated, and her two returning starters are a big reason for that.
Hambrock can play inside, for example, but won’t always have to thanks to a trio of 6-footers — senior Bailee Williams, junior Maddie Callahan and sophomore Meaghan Etling — plus 5-10 junior Cassidy Wood. Etling is also capable of playing away from the basket, should the Braves want to go big.
If a small lineup is necessary, Fendrick is strong enough to play inside herself. Backcourt candidates, in addition to Speth and Davis, are 5-5 senior Jordan Meng and 5-6 freshman Kennedy Williams, and a pair of 5-8 sophomores bring scoring ability (Ali Danielson) and competitive fire (Lauren Perrelle) at whatever spots they’re asked to play.
If there’s a second characteristic of these Braves besides versatility, in fact, it might be feistiness. Perrelle, Fendrick, Davis and Wood are among many South players known for their hard-nosed play.
“We have a lot of competitors,” Stuckey agreed. “That’s something we emphasize every day in practice.”
If there’s a question mark as the season tips off, it might be where points will come from. “We lost 70 percent of our scoring [from last season],” the coach pointed out.
Although Hambrock’s numbers are expected to be even bigger this season, other scorers who could emerge might be Etling, who had lots of points in her pre-high school days, and Danielson.
“Those are the two players who improved the most over the summer,” Stuckey said. “Ali is one of our best shooters.”
The Braves, who had a scrimmage against potential state champion Roncalli on Saturday, meet Northview in the first of two or three games at West Vigo this week.
South also has nearly a full Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference schedule, retaining all the MIC members except Center Grove.