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 Off-Season Work Ethic Crucial to Girls Basketball Team's Future

March 19, 2008 - What happens during the off-season could have a tremendous impact on the future of the girls basketball program at Knightstown High School.

Lady Panther coach Dawn Basicker recently completed end-of-season exit interviews with each of the returning members of the girls basketball team. The coach had a sit-down with the 12 players who were on the varsity roster for the sectional.

“After the season ended we met with each of the kids and told them what they needed to work on in the off-season to improve their game,” Basicker said. “We have a lot of kids coming back and we’ve got some younger players who could contribute. But they all have a lot of work to do to get getter, and it will be up to them to take advantage of what we’ve told them and make their game better.”

The Lady Panthers completed a 9-12 season, losing in the opening round of the sectional Centerville.

After losing their first two games this season, the Lady Panthers won five straight and were 5-2 at one point. However, they followed up that five-game winning streak by losing five straight.

A pair of White River Athletic Conference victories over Wes-Del and Eastern Hancock made the Lady Panthers 7-5 on the season. But the team would regress down the stretch, losing seven of their last nine games to finish the season 9-12.

The season finale was a bitter blow as Knightstown fell in the sectional to Centerville 70-47. The Lady Panthers had beaten the Lady Bulldogs early in the season by seven points.

“We had a very young and inexperienced team this year,” Basicker said. “I thought at the beginning of the year that we could win 10 or 12 games and we won nine. But our shooting percentage was probably the worst it’s been since I’ve been here.

“I thought we grew as a team but we didn’t really get any better individually. We were a young team, and you can build on that through hard work. But just because you are young and playing doesn’t mean you are just going to get better. They will have to work on their weaknesses to get better.”

Knightstown played for the most part a difficult schedule. The team’s 12 losses came against some very stiff competition, including Lapel (22-3), Winchester (20-5) Triton Central (19-4) and Hagerstown (17-6). Combined, the 12 teams that beat the Lady Panthers won 189 games and averaged nearly 16 wins apiece this year.

Knightstown will lose just senior Diana Trautmann to graduation, returning four starters and all of its immediate bench help next year. Returning players include juniors Sabrina Hatfield, Jocelyn Sturgill, Natosha Hiner, Brittany Jolley and Cassie Hammer; sophomores Danielle Altman and Haley Cruse; and freshmen Megan Hiner, Hannah Smith, Megan Chew and Brittany Brown.

They will be joined by several eighth graders who could make an impact next season, including Kaelee Kuhn.

But having numbers in youth is no guarantee of future success. Those younger players have to also get better as they get older.

“We were young and we’ll be more experienced next year,” Basicker said, “but so will a lot of teams on our schedule. The pool of talent we play now is also young and there were some outstanding freshmen and sophomores that we saw this season.”

Basicker said her goal is to convince the Lady Panthers that they have to get better, not just to secure a spot on the Knightstown roster, but to keep ahead of the ever-improving competition on the schedule.

“We may get some help from the eighth grade next year, and we’ve got some freshmen who had an impact this season,” Basicker said. “But those girls learned this year that there is a huge jump from the eighth grade to the varsity level. There is a big difference in strength and the physicality of the play. We’re trying to get the girls to buy into reaching their potential through hard work.

“They need to work hard over the summer and try to do something each day, whether that is shooting the ball or dribbling, or whatever their game needs. It’s a good group of kids and there are a lot of things happening that pull them in a lot of different directions.”

Currently only freshman Megan Hiner is playing on a traveling basketball team. She is playing point guard for the Indiana Elite Central AAU 15-and-Under team. Last weekend the Indiana Elite played in the Shamrock Classic at Westfield, losing 55-54 to the Fieldhouse Rebels in the single elimination tournament. Hiner scored 21 points, had eight rebounds, seven steals and two assists.

The team is going against some stiff competition and is comprised of Hiner, Chelsea Jones of Austin, Emily Olds, Christine & Jennifer Dickman from Zionsville, Ashley Falcon from North Central, Alaura McKemie from Brownsburg, Maddie Herr from Hamilton Heights and Rachel Evans and Jenna Ehrman from Westfield. Other Lady Panthers are involved in spring sports, but Basicker has been pleased with the numbers showing up to weekly workouts.

“We’ve got 10 working out now once a week and there are a lot of other things going on,” Basicker said. “I would like to see them all work on their game during the off-season and make the improvements they need over the summer.

“Whether there is time for that, we’ll just have to see. But these girls have the capability of being a pretty good team. How hard they work over the summer will tell us a lot more about where we’ll be next season.”


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