The winter sports season kicks off tonight with four area girls basketball teams in action.
Columbus North’s preview ran in Monday’s Republic, and Columbus East’s will appear on Wednesday. Here is a look at the other seven area girls basketball teams, beginning with Hauser:
The Jets will be a young team with only one senior. They return three starters from a team that went 8-15 in Chad Evans’ second season at the helm.
“I think we’re going to be fairly young, but we’ll be pretty competitive this year,” Evans said. “The kids worked hard this summer. These last two weeks, they’ve been working really hard in the gym. Chemistry is real good. They’ve jelled together real well.”
Back to lead the team is 5-foot-8 junior Kyliegh Parrott. Parrott led Hauser with 13.2 points, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals and added 3.2 rebounds a game last season.
Hannah Taylor, a 5-8 junior, and 5-9 senior Gabby Johns also started last season. Adrianna Musillami, a 5-6 junior, and 6-0 sophomore Kenze Bostic saw plenty of varsity action.
The Jets received a big boost in the offseason when 5-6 sophomore Madelyn Poe, who was sixth player at Center Grove last season, transferred to Hauser. She will take over at the point, allowing Parrott to move to the wing.
Two freshmen, 5-8 Tanna Tatlock and 5-5 Norah Berkenstock, could see immediate action.
“It’s going to create problems with other teams because we have eight kids that can score,” Evans said. “There’s eight kids on the team that can shoot the 3, and that’s a nice luxury to have. We’re going to try to get up as many shots as we can as quickly as we can.”
Bella Kilps, a 5-7 sophomore, split time between varsity and JV last season. Mattie Foster, a 5-8 sophomore, moves up to the varsity this season.
Hauser will look to improve on a 2-4 record in the Mid-Hoosier Conference.
“We should be able to compete in our sectional and compete for the conference title,” Evans said. “With the kids we have there, we hope they can achieve their goal of having a winning record.”
The Crusaders have a new coach in former Columbus Christian boys basketball player and assistant coach Chris Noblitt, who takes over for Kay Jones.
Noblitt played one year at Grace Christian University in Michigan, then was student assistant there for two years. He was on staff for Grace’s 2019 NCCAA national championship.
Only three players return from last season’s 10-6 team, including 5-6 juniors Madi Blair and Sarah Lorimor, who were starters. The other returning player is 5-5 freshman Eva Blair.
Freshman Paige Harden and eighth-grader Lauren Sanders could fill the other two starting spots. Providing depth will be 5-8 freshman Mariah Holt and 5-6 freshman Emma Sewell.
Of Columbus Christian’s 14 girls, two are juniors, and the rest are in Grades 7-9.
“We’re very young,” Noblitt said. “We have a lot of new players. It’s a big change for me because I’ve coached guys, but it’s the first time I’m coaching girls. It’s a rebuilding season because they lost a lot, but I’ve already seen improvement from what they did this summer. Seeing improvement is what I’m looking forward to.”
The Panthers showed signs of being a formidable team last season, when they went 16-7, including 5-2 in the Hoosier Hills Conference. Three starters and a few key reserves return from that squad.
“We have a group that is going to learn to gel together,” Jennings coach Kristi Sigler said. “We’re dealing with a lot of injuries right now.”
Juliann Woodard, a 6-0 sophomore, was one of the state’s top freshmen last season and has scholarship offers from Evansville, Indiana State and Murray State. She led the Panthers with 17.5 points and 11.2 rebounds last season.
Lily Ernstes (9.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg), a 5-9 senior, returns in the post, and 5-4 senior Kali Thompson (6.8 ppg, 3.5 apg) is back at the point. Alivia Elmore, a 5-8 sophomore, was injured for much of last season, and 6-0 sophomore Charlee Barlow is our for at least a couple more weeks with a broken wrist suffered during volleyball season.
Megan Vogel, a 5-11 junior, and 5-4 senior Morgan Lane also return, along with 5-3 senior Zoey Ison. Alexis Carson, a 6-0 sophomore, could play if she recovers from knee injury.
Also looking to make an impact will be 5-7 sophomore Kenzie Matern, 5-7 freshman Maddie McInotsh, 5-10 freshman Mylee Boling and 5-9 freshman Avynn Belding.
“There’s a great mix of kids,” Sigler said. “It’s just about getting them in roles that they’re comfortable in. We’re going to try to develop some more depth at our younger levels. Just because of injuries, we’ve had to play more players, and they got better in that scrimmage.”
The Eagles put together a winning season, going 9-7 in Emily Lewellyn’s first year as head coach, but will be a little inexperienced this year following the departure of 20-point-per-game scorer Abby Fleetwood to Indian Creek.
“It’s definitely going to be a rebuilding year, but I think we have the opportunity for some success,” Lewellyn said.
Juniors Abigail Watson (6.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Katie Tipton (7.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Savannah Oden (3.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg) are returning starters from a team that went 5-3 in the Western Indiana Conference.
Sophomore Maddie Huff, who came off the bench last season and Lexie Austin, who split time between varsity and JV, will be the other two starters. Sophomores Cady Kemp, Anna Tipton and Anna Stogsdill also could see action.
“I think that we have a good variety of girls,” Lewellen said. “They all can serve a different purpose, and they’re very versatile. They can be a guard, and they can attack the basket and can play down low.”
The Lancers lost leading scorer Annelise Lollar to graduation, but return the other four starters from a team that went 7-12, including 2-4 in the MHC.
Gracie Crawhorn, a 5-10 junior, averaged 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds. Also back are 5-6 senior Callie Hancock (7.8 ppg), 5-8 junior Bethany Burton (3.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and 5-2 senior point guard Alyssa Funkhouser (3.5 ppg).
Carly Cowan, a 5-7 senior who was the sixth player, tore an ACL in softball and could be back around mid-December. Three other players — 5-11 junior Cloee Britton, 5-5 junior Gracie Myers and 5-4 sophomore Kyah Streeval — saw a little varsity action last season and will play bigger roles this winter.
“Defense is going to be our strong suit,” Edinburgh coach Amy Schilling said. “Everybody is going to have to be ready to score, so it’s going to be a different role for them. It will be a variety of people that need to step up.”
The Cougars will look to improve after going 6-16, including 0-6 in the MHC, in Tyler Johnson’s first year as coach.
Loryn Pate (7.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg), a 5-10 senior, is the long returning full-time starter. Brayley Sundal, a 5-6 sophomore, was a starter at the end of last season.
Brook Somers, a 5-9 senior, is back after not playing last year. Her sister, 5-10 freshman Makayla Somers, along with 5-7 freshman Kiley Best, could fill starting spots.
Kirsten Meece, a 5-8 senior, and 5-5 junior Mary Gasper, saw varsity action last season. Katie Gasper, a 5-5 junior who currently is dealing with a foot injury, and 5-9 sophomore Molly Eden split time between varsity and JV last season. Paige McQueen, a 5-7 freshman, also will play varsity.
“We are kind of young,” Johnson said. “We have a pretty good freshman class coming in, so that is kind of nice. Our returning players have meshed with our younger players. We have three sets of sisters, so they’ve played together forever. We’re probably going to play a little faster and get after it defensively and try to cause turnovers.”
Trinity will have to wait a little while before beginning its season after its volleyball team advanced to the Class A State Finals. Four varsity basketball players are still playing volleyball for the Cougars.
That includes 5-9 junior point guard Bailey Tabeling, who led Trinity with 19.6 points, 4.9 assists and 3.7 steals last year and has an offer from Murray State. She may need to pick up even more of the scoring load following the departure of Indiana All-Star Sydney Jaynes, who now is playing at Butler.
Kailene Cockerham (8.2 ppg), a 5-3 senior, and 5-10 sophomore Liza Froedge (7.7 ppg) return, along with 5-11 senior Emma Schepman (3.8 ppg). The other starter could be 5-8 freshman Madison Keith, who currently is playing volleyball.
Kaitlyn Schepman, a 5-11 senior, and 5-8 sophomore Morgan Brewer saw some varsity action last season, as did 5-7 senior Kayla Goecker and 5-6 senior Hannah Durham. Jordan Brewer, a 5-3 freshman, could make an immediate impact.
“We’re going to see a lot of attention on Bailey, and we know that, but we’re going to have five people on the floor who can score,” Trinity coach Mike Lang said. “We’re going to be a little bit deeper than we have been. We’re going to be able to get up and down the floor and press a little bit more with this year’s squad.”