Alainey Kovacs | Staff Writer
When the girls basketball team takes the court tonight, there will be noticeable differences. Gone are five seniors from last year’s 14-9 team, including three starters, and former coach Shawn Sanders. Coach Kevin Stuckmeyer steps up from his former role as boys varsity assistant last season to take the reins of the girls program.
“It’s been really enjoyable to run the program and the types of girls we have in it,” Stuckmeyer said. “The girls are eager to learn and hungry to play and that is what I want in each and every player.”
The team opened the season on the road, defeating Plainfield 45-27 and Fishers 43-30, its first 2-0 start since the 2014 season when the team won its first eight games.
“So far we have gotten off to a good start to the season,” Stuckmeyer said. “I think we have set ourselves a good foundation for the season.”
While Stuckmeyer has enjoyed his transition to head coach, the team is just as excited to play under his coaching.
“I love the new coaching staff,” junior guard Emma Utterback said. “Stuckmeyer has been fantastic with his vision for what he wants our team to look like offensively and defensively.”
Senior forward Karina Frankel has embraced the new offensive and defensive schemes.
“Our defense has changed completely this year. We switch every screen,” Frankel said. “Our offense is constant movement with screens and cuts.”
The new offense and defense is not the only thing the team is learning though. After graduating five seniors, three who are currently playing college basketball, they are figuring out how to replace the scoring, rebounding and intangibles.
“As a team we know what roles we must play in order for the greatest success, so we don’t try to replace the [graduated] seniors but instead players stepping up into their needed roles,” senior forward Amy Davis said.
With the added responsibility that comes with being a second-year varsity player, Utterback hopes the changes this season lead to success.
“[Coach Stuckmeyer’s] detail to the little things is going to go a long way for our team,” Utterback said. “Stuckmeyer has given me a lot of confidence and the game is way more fun when you have that [confidence] as you play.”
While the team jumped out to a 2-0 start, they know the schedule gets harder. With four MIC opponents ranked in the Top 10, including state runner-up Pike, and returning sectional champion Martinsville sitting at No. 13, the season only gets more challenging.
“The biggest games for this season would be Martinsville and Pike,” Davis said. “Martinsville is a big game for us because we lost to them in sectionals early on.”
After losing 62-43 in the opening game of sectionals last season, Davis knows the team will be ready to avenge that loss when they face the Artesians and their Miss Basketball candidate Kayana Traylor in mid-December.
“I know a lot of girls that were upset in how fast we got kicked out of post-season,” Davis said. “[Martinsville is] a good team, so going in we need to be ready defensively to stop Traylor driving and a lot of their outside shots.”
Before they take on Martinsville, before they face a tough MIC schedule, the team must master their new roles, which for returning players means stepping into leadership roles.
“I’m ready for the challenges that come with being a leader, but I know because I have great teammates that we’ll all get along and have a great season,” Utterback said.