After the first non-losing record in six years (an 11-11 mark last season), Adams Central's girls' basketball program looks for even better things in 2010-11 and, with no seniors on the squad, in 2011-12, as well.
Head coach Sam Beer, whose team won just one game in the 2008-09 season, says the leap to 11 wins was led by last year's five seniors, who "set the tone" the summer before and left a training and practice legacy that he believes will carry over into this year. The graduated Lady Jets, four of whom were starters, are Michelle Ripley, Felicia Lehman, Lauren Harvey, Tiffany Lee, and Tiffani Tonner. They did 70% of the scoring and 50% of the rebounding.
"In terms of girls wanting to get better and putting time and effort into it, I do expect that to continue. The girls we have this year strongly want to show that last year was not an accident or aberration. Looking at out schedule, a winning record is possible," says Beer, now in his fourth year as head coach.
He says the schedule of at least 20 games "has a good mix of competition" and adds, "I'd like to continue to grow our program to the point where we can increase the challenges on our schedule [and] compete year-in and year-out with the bigger schools in our conference and the best teams in our sectional."
The best teams this year on AC's schedule, Beer predicts, will be Bishop Luers, Norwell, Garrett, Leo, Bellmont, Southern Wells and Blackhawk Christian.
The most experienced returning player is 5-7 junior Madison Carroll, a two-year starter who was last year's number three scorer at seven points per game and number one rebounder at seven per game. She also managed two assists per game last season.
Beer says Carroll "played the point mostly last season, but will be asked to play a variety of positions this season. We will look for her to provide more scoring and defensive presence, while continuing to rebound well. Her strengths are athleticism and speed and she increased her confidence in ballhandling and shooting" as a sophomore.
Another important player is Alyssa Keller, a 5-5 junior guard who came off the bench last year and played point and wing guard. Beer says Keller possesses "very good passing skills and court vision and an improving perimeter shot," plus she is a strong physical defender who often will draw the opposing team's best player. The coach says he is "looking for her to increase her scoring and continue her leadership."
Last season, Keller scored about 4.5 points a game and averaged two rebounds and more than one assist per contest.
There are just eight players listed on the varsity team, so here are Beer's comments on the other six:
• Lindsey McDougall—a 5-6 junior who has played in the low post, but will move to the wings this year because "she runs the floor very well as a forward." Beer adds that she "has provided great leadership" in games and is expected to continue doing so, as well as become a dependable rebounder. In addition, says the coach. McDougall will often guard players who are bigger than she is. McDougall averaged about two points a game as a sophomore.
• Jenae Blackburn—a 5-5 junior guard who Beer touts as "probably the best perimeter shooter in the program." She also "has shown improved ballhandling and defensive attitude that has made her a more rounded player."
• Leah Spangler—a 5-3 junior guard whose "greatest asset is her understanding of what we're trying to do offensively and defensively and knowing where to be at both ends of the floor." She will be a backup player and will be counted on, Beer says, to play solid defense and hit mid-range jump shots.
• Olivia Macklin—a 5-5 sophomore guard who has "a lot of athleticism" and "runs the open floor very well." She has a reliable shooting touch, whether outside or driving to the basket. Picking up her scoring and defense will be among the keys to the team having a good season, says Beer.
• Mary Fox—a 5-5 sophomore guard who "has shown a lot of quickness and grit defensively" and also presents "a positive attitude that will help her play any role we need." Her best shot is a mid-range jumper.
• Bess Fiechter—a 5-4 sophomore guard who likewise is athletic and speedy, especially on defense. Says Beer, "We'll rely on her to help lead the fast break and get the ball out quickly to create a lot of havoc" for the opposing defenses. He adds that Fiechter is "working to improve her confidence in her shooting."
He adds, "We'll develop some junior varsity players to step in and fill roles as the season progresses."
Overall, Beer's says, "I believe we are seeing the fruits of our labors" in the past three years. "Our numbers in the high school are pretty good compared to a lot of schools, with 21 girls playing.
"We have put forth a lot of time and effort developing our elementary school and middle school programs and are seeing players come to the high school with more abilities. That allows us to do some different things and expand our capabilities at the high school level.
"I am very pleased with where we are. Our high school and middle school coaches have been tremendous in giving their time and talents to our younger players and it is paying off for us.
"We've been trying to build a program that the girls want to be a part of and one that our school community and parents can be proud of. I believe it is happening." The other coaches are Mike Burris, assistant varsity; Terry Fawcett, junior varsity; Josh Foster, high school volunteer; Chris Gross, eighth grade; Penny Gay, seventh grade; and Stacy Fiechter, middle school volunteer.
The varsity managers are junior Alexa Baller and sophomore Lydia Johnson.