Girls basketball hosts pair of Top 10 teams

Sam Findley, Staff Writer

After a season-opening 45-39 win over Franklin Central, team Center Grove girls basketball team looks to Saturday’s double-header against a pair of Top 10 teams to add more games to the win column. The team takes on No. 5 Hamilton Southeastern in the morning and No. 3 Fishers Saturday night. 

In the opening game of the season, senior Mary Wilson led the Trojans with 19 points, but the Trojans will likely look to freshman Aubrie Booker to take some of the scoring responsibilities when Wilson steps off the court. Booker who was the second highest scorer in Tuesday’s game against Franklin Central and believes her role in both games will be amplified when Wilson gets a breather. 

 “Mary, Emily (McWilliams) and Aili (Lothamer) are the leaders of the team so knowing my role is going to help the team the most,” Booker said. “[On Tuesday], with Mary coming out with fouls in the first half, I felt as if I needed to step it up and score without her on the court. My roles definitely change depending on when she’s in, out, scoring, or having an off day and that depends whether I need to be more of a scorer or if I need to make those plays for my other teammates.”

On Saturday, Center Grove will face a Hamilton Southeastern team that lost its top three scorers to graduation, including Indiana’s Miss. Basketball and Oregon-recruit Sydney Parish. HSE will likely look to Junior Ryan Viele for scoring. Viele averaged 4.6 points per game and pulled down 1.8 rebounds per game last season and is the team’s. highest scoring returning player. 

Sophomore Ella Hobson believes the defensive basics will be a key to slowing down Ryan Viele. 

“[The key is] just keeping all of them in front of us and having a high hand on all of them when they shoot,” Hobson said. “They are all really good shooters and drivers, so I think if we do those two things, they will have a difficult time scoring and getting into their offense. [Defensive basics] are what wins us our really big games. It all comes down to our defense and making that a really big priority.” 

Sophomore Emily Karr believes winning the Hamilton Southeastern game will take playing like a team 

“The key to winning the Hamilton Southeastern game is we have to compete as a team and take care of the little things. By doing the little things like grabbing the ball strong, helping in transition, and more, we will set the tone, which is a big key for us as a team,” said Karr. 

For Wilson, the two games in a day format presents its own set of challenges, especially in the night game.

“It will force us to be mentally disciplined when fatigue kicks in. It will be a good test for us,” said Wilson. “Not getting flustered, being sharp and doing all the little things that we emphasize in practice [will be important].”

On Saturday evening, Center Grove will face Fishers, who returns leading scorer and St. John’s commit Katie Burton, who averaged 15.4 points per game and 2 steals per game last season. Burton will be the focal point on offense and defense for Fishers, and Center Grove will look to stop her. 

Any win against a quality opponent like Hamilton Southeastern or Fishers builds confidence and momentum for our program

— Head Coach Kevin Stuckmeyer

Booker believes that the team’s defense can stop top scorers like Bruton. 

“Our defense can easily shut down top scorers like we did with Rahya Kincer when we faced Franklin Central last Tuesday,” Booker said. “When guarding Katie Burton, our defender’s responsibility is to just keep her in front and not let her get to the basket.”

Head Coach Kevin Stuckmyer believes defense will be a key to successful game against Fishers 

“Fisher’s keys will be transition defense and keeping them out of the lane,” Stuckmeyer said. “We must be on point in our team defense and not let them feel comfortable and get easy rhythm shots. We must also control tempo and not let it get into a up-and-down, free-flowing game.”

Saturday’s two games provide the team with their first shots at securing victories against a couple of Indiana’s top teams, wins that would go a long way in helping a young team build confidence.

“Any win against a quality opponent like Hamilton Southeastern or Fishers builds confidence and momentum for our program,” Stuckmeyer said. “It takes everything we have to prepare mentally and physically for them and to go out and execute.It would give our young team the confidence to gel as a team and excel in their preparation and focus.”