"We've got 15 girls who want to play basketball, they enjoy being here and they're hustling and doing everything they can to get ready for the season," stated Bellmont girls basketball coach Tory Fuelling Monday afternoon as he squeezed in a picture session, taking valuable practice time away from his team, which has had little of that to prepare for tonight's opening game with Bishop Dwenger at the Teepee.
Every practice minute is valuable because there haven't been many for several of the BHS regulars who spent all fall building a state volleyball championship for Bellmont. Starting at center tonight will by Madison Schultz, who averaged 7.6 points and 6.0 rebounds for the Squaws a year ago, and she has to shift gears from stroking kills and blocking shots, as does Payton Schultz, who scored 5.7 points with 5.0 rebounds last year and was so crucial to the BHS volleyball effort down the stretch this fall.
Both will start tonight after just a week of practice. Another volleyball starter, Allison Gutierrez, will see limited action for a few games recovering from a sore foot.
Top scorer Madison Gross (8.9) graduated, but back is senior guard Dana Kaczmarek, second on the team with a 7.8 (40 assists) mark last year. She'll obviously be counted on as a key scorer and ball handler for Fuelling's Squaws.
Another key senior is guard Sara Williamson, who scored 2.2 points last year and will be counted on to carry more of the load this season. Gutierrez played in 14 games last year, scoring 1.3 points. She'll find her way into the rotation.
Bellmont will be without senior Chelsea Colclasure (5.6 points), who decided not to play this season after battling foot and ankle problems a year ago. Senior Brittany Thatcher will graduate at the conclusion of the first semester, so she did not come out after scoring 5.2 points last year.
Bellmont also lost Carrie Terveer, who tallied 3.9 points a game last year.
Also listed on the varsity roster are: junior Mikala Quinn and sophomores Taylor Kuhnle and Brooke Zimmerman.
Zimmerman will bounce back and forth between jayvee and varsity. Other jayvee players are: junior Alexa Singleton, sophomores Megan Schueler, Audrey Schultz, and Ashley Piper, and freshman Courtney Schere, Ivy Settlemyer, and Erin Engstrom.
Bellmont finished 7-16 a year ago, and Fuelling would like to improve on those numbers. "I think we can be better than .500. I'd like to finish in the top three in the conference, so those are the things we're shooting for."
The basketball Squaws hope to use some of the same strategy as the volleyball team: power. Madison Schultz is a 6'2" force underneath and Payton Schultz is an athletic 5'10". Both will be counted on to clear the boards and to defend underneath.
"We're not a real deep team so we'll try to get the ball inside to our height, and we have some good spot up shooters so well play inside-out. If we get in foul trouble we'll spread it out a little more," said the coach.
"I think we can be better than .500. I'd like to finish in the top three in the conference, what we're shooting for.
Fuelling wants his girls to shoot better from the stripe, where BHS hit 224 of 411 last year, and cut back on the turnovers. Bellmont committed 457 to the 331 of the opposition a year ago.
With only 15 girls between two teams, injuries, sickness and foul trouble could will have an affect. One jayvee game last year had to be cancelled because of such troubles.
"Everybody is going to get playing time, it's just a matter of the matchups and who we need in and when," offered the coach.
Though a few games have been moved, the BHS slate is still front-loaded. Two early games have been moved because of the volleyball success. "We play Tuesday, Friday (at Jay), Saturday (Heritage, home), and Monday (at Fort Wayne South). It's on," said Fuelling.
Which means practice ... will just have to wait.
BHS Girls Basketball
16 B. Dwenger H 7:45
19 Jay Co. T 7:45
20 Heritage H 7:45
22 FW South T 7:45
30 Concordia H 7:45
4 DeKalb T 7:45
7 Leo H 7:45
10 E. Noble H 7:45
18 New Haven T 7:45
20 A. Central T 7:45
22 Woodlan H 7:45
30 Van Wert T 7:45
8 Col. City T 7:45
13 FW North T 7:45
15 Norwell H 7:45
21 Homestead T 7:45
25 Wayne T 7:45
27 Snider H 7:45
29 Carroll H 7:45
4 S. Adams H 7:45