THE Jennings County girls basketball team is trying to establish consistency before beginning the postseason in March.
Before Thursday’s game against Whiteland, the team had dropped three of its previous four games.
“We need to get better at closing games,” junior center Emma Campbell said. “Ever since we missed 20 free throws in a game against New Albany, we’ve improved so much at shooting free throws because we’ve worked on it every day.”
Because they’ve shot 300 free throws each week for about five straight weeks, the team’s stroke has improved. However, it is still an issue.
“We’ve improved, but we still have a ways to go,” Jennings coach Carrie Manowitz said. “We missed about five free throws in the fourth quarter against Martinsville and we lost by four.”
Emily Ertel thinks that consistency is the bigger issue for the team.
“Free throws haven’t been that much of a problem,” Ertel said. “We’ve made some turnovers and other silly mistakes, but they are easy to fix. We need to finish as strong as we’ve started.
“All our games have been close. Against Martinsville, we had the lead for the whole game, and we gave it away in the last couple of minutes. We need to use the clock to our advantage.”
A slower tempo could help the Panthers eliminate those mistakes and give them a chance to win more close games.
“We need to realize that the clock is our friend,” Campbell said. “When we’re ahead, we don’t need to play as fast. We need to learn how to finish a game and value every possession.”
The Panthers have been trying to get the ball into the post to Campbell and 5-foot-9 sophomore Halea Petro. Petro played guard last season, and the Panthers moved her inside because of her length and speed.
“We’re trying to use her quickness against the bigger post players,” Ertel said. “She has long arms and she’s taller than a lot players. She has good footwork.”
Petro is also the team’s spark plug.
“Halea’s our secret weapon,” Ertel said. “She has a lot of energy, and we feed off that.”
Petro is especially active on the defense end.
“Halea has a crazy personality,” Manowitz said. “She’s great on defense because defense is all about hustle and determination, and she has both. She’s picked up her scoring, too. She’s scored in double digits the last couple of games.”
The Panthers have improved because of their off-court chemistry. Before practice, many of them like to sit down together to play games and laugh. They mesh well on the court also.
“We’re a close team, and we’ve gotten tougher,” Ertel said. “Our coaches say that we’re all pieces to a puzzle.”
Campbell believes the team needs to get even tougher.
“It’s not where we want it to be,” she said. “But, we’ve gotten tougher. Last year, we got down four or five points and we thought the game was over. If we continue to build on what we’ve done, we have a chance to win the sectional. We just need to put a whole game together.”