Season Preview: Class 2A, Sectionals 45-48
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Monday, October 30, was the first day Indiana high school teams were eligible to begin official games, therefore the beginning of the 2023-2024 high school season is already here. This article serves as the eighth of 16 in total, previewing…
Monday, October 30, was the first day Indiana high school teams were eligible to begin official games, therefore the beginning of the 2023-2024 high school season is already here. This article serves as the eighth of 16 in total, previewing each Sectional in the state. I will continue by taking a look at the second Class 2A South Regional, which incorporates the winners of Sectional #45 through Sectional #48. Below is a look at the teams in each of those Sectionals, along with some general comments and analysis.
(SAG = Final 2022-2023 Multiclass Sagarin Rating (395 teams); SOS = Final 2022-2023 Strength of Schedule)
North Decatur (17-6), SAG 158, SOS 291
South Ripley (16-10), SAG 208, SOS 257
Switzerland County (13-10), SAG 259, SOS 320
Hauser (10-12), SAG 271, SOS 333
Milan (4-19), SAG 328, SOS 306
North Decatur had a nice 2022-2023 season going, but then South Ripley got them, even though the Chargers had won the regular season matchup by 18 points. It was the third consecutive year South Ripley was responsible for putting North Decatur out of the state tournament. This year could be much different, however, as the Chargers return a tremendous amount of production. They did say “goodbye” to 4-year starter Madelyn Bohman (8.3p, 7.1r), but everyone else is back. 5-9 Junior wing(13.9p, 5.2r, 3.7a) will be a handful for opponents. She is long, athletic, and versatile. She will handle it and create, get to the rim, knock down shots, and defend multiple positions. 5-11 Senior post (11.9p, 7.9r) is extremely hard-working inside, and she’ll put up her share of double-doubles, while helping on the back end of their defense. 5-6 Junior guard Kelsey Haley (7.7p, 2.8r, 3.1a) was also a considerable offensive presence, as she showed she can score it a little or facilitate to teammates. 6-0 post Sydney Rohls (4.7p, 3.4r), 5-3 guard Clare Kinker (4.0p, 2.6r), and 5-5 guard Kacey Barker (2.2p), all Juniors, bring back considerable experience as well. Look for the Chargers to be a Top-20 team in Class 2A this season. As for those feisty Lady Raiders of South Ripley, they must manage the graduation losses of Katelynn Samples (9.4p, 6.8r), Emily Flood (7.9p, 3.4r), Mya McNew (3.2p, 3.3r), and Lexi Mozingo, however, they have been a sum-of-their-parts sort of team in recent years, and that could be the case again in 2023-2024. 5-7 Senior forward Reese Obendorf (8.0p, 5.5r) is the leading returning scorer and rebounder for the Raiders and looks to see an uptick in scoring opportunities. 5-7 Senior wing Lydia Cornett (6.7p, 3.2r, 2.0a, 2.0s) also has multiple years of Varsity experience and can handle the ball. 5-6 Senior guard Morgan Brightwell (5.3p, 2.4r) and 5-9 Junior post Lexi Franklin (3.8p, 4.4r) both saw major rotation minutes a year ago as well. If they can find just a little depth behind those four, South Ripley will once again be a 15-win team or better. One player who could step into that void is Freshman guard Claire Samples. Look for her to play right away and potentially be one of their leaders right out of the gate.
The Pacers of Switzerland County have somewhat been gearing up for this season, as they have a deep 2024 class. 5-5 guard Courtney Higgins will likely lead that Senior class into action. Additional Seniors include: 5-7 wing Halle Archer, 5-8 forward Macy Collier, 5-8 forward Molly Wrightsman, and 5-6 forward Maddie Levell. 5-7 Junior guard Bri Stow has been a Varsity performer since her Freshman year and looks to be a big part of the rotation once again. The Pacers will likely push for 15 wins once again in 2023-2024. The Hauser Jets could struggle to get to 10 wins once again, as they must replace their top three players from a season ago. After two years with Senior(15.5p, 4.7r, 2.9a, 2.6s) at point guard, she has transferred to Columbus East High School for her final season. That in itself is a huge loss for the Jets, but also gone are graduates Kyliegh Parrott (9.5p, 2.8r, 3.5a, 2.0s), Adrianna Musillami (7.5p, 5.4r), and Jaden Sims (1.0p, 2.4r). If they are going to find any success, it will likely take 5-5 Junior guard Norah Berkenstock (6.6p, 3.1r) and 5-8 Senior wing Bella Kilps (6.2p, 4.5r) to step up big time. Also look for 5-7 Freshman guard Abby Manley to see some early minutes this season. Mighty Milan went really young last season and played a number of Freshmen and Sophomores big minutes. Still, though, 5-6 senior guard Makalee Rivera is back and has been a double-digit scorer. 5-8 Junior forward Autumn Rohrig has seen action each of her first two years, while 5-6 Sophomore guard Emma Voss and 5-10 Sophomore post Kaiya Rinear were a big part of what the Indians did last season, and I don’t expect that to change moving forward. As the youngsters continue to gain experience, look for this program to continue to rise.
Brownstown Central (19-8), SAG 99, SOS 68
Providence (15-9), SAG 147, SOS 214
Eastern (Pekin) (10-13), SAG 173, SOS 81
Austin (16-10), SAG 211, SOS 232
Southwestern (Hanover) (9-16), SAG 265, SOS 276
Henryville (6-17), SAG 296, SOS 337
Clarksville (5-18), SAG 330, SOS 317
Brownstown Central has seemingly always had a strong presence in Southern Indiana girls’ basketball. This year, they will have to play for the first time in a while without graduated guards Madelyn Hackman (12.3p, 2.2r) and Kalee Borden (10.8p, 6.0r, 3.1a). Those two definitely present big shoes to fill in the future, and now leadership responsibilities likely fall to 5-6 Junior guard Jenna Klosterman. Fellow Juniors Mallory Klosterman and Addison Darlage, both 5-6 wings, also return with solid Varsity experience. If they can get a couple more youngsters to provide support, this could still be a title contender in Sectional #46. Though Lillie Weber (9.1p, 4.0r) and Kate Weber (1.8p, 2.2s) both graduated, Providence was very young last year, and they have a bright outlook for the future. 5-5 Sophomore guard(15.8p, 2.3r, 2.0a, 3.6s) is dynamic and can either score the ball, or she can facilitate and run offense. 5-7 Sophomore wing Avery Smith (7.5p, 6.2r, 2.0s) compliments her well, and Avery can play in the mid-post or around the perimeter. From there, Sophomores Livy Theobald (5.3p, 3.0r, 2.4s), a 5-5 guard, and Kamden Pierce (1.8p), a 5-3 guard, plus 5-6 Senior guard Grace Denis (4.6p) and 5-5 Junior wing Molly Richards (2.9p, 2.2r) saw extensive playing time last season. Also look for 5-6 Freshman guard Jayda Kempf to make an immediate impact as well. The Pioneers could now be the team to beat in Sectional #46. I was a little surprised Eastern (Pekin) fell below .500 last year, especially with seven Seniors on the roster. Now graduates, most missed will be front-liner Kyia McKinley (15.7p, 7.1r) and wing Ava Sowder. There is very little experience remaining on the Varsity roster, but the best candidates to step into starting roles for the Musketeers are now 5-5 Senior guard Elizabeth Trueblood, 5-7 Junior guard Bracie Jackson, and 5-4 Senior guard Kylie Batt. From there, expect Eastern to offer opportunities to any number of underclassmen until they can find the right balance.
The Austin Eagles say “goodbye” to four Seniors, most notably Mallory Buckel (6.8p, 3.8r), however they were mostly young throughout the remainder of the roster. Leading the way for the Eagles are 5-6 Sophomore guard(17.0p, 5.0r, 3.3a) and 5-6 Junior guard Kelsey Hawkins (12.2p, 2.1r, 2.6a). Owens is a talented shooter who really showed her mettle as a rookie, while Hawkins has scored in double figures both years of her career thus far. 5-11 Junior post Lizzy Baker (5.2p, 6.8r) and 5-4 Sophomore guard Jaleigh Schepman (2.8p, 2.0r) have also played big roles within the lineup in the past. Don’t sleep on the Eagles, as they could push for 20 wins very soon and take the Sectional #46 crown as well. Southwestern (Hanover) is another team with a great deal of youthful talent and returning experience. All seven players from their 2022-2023 core return, led by 5-2 Senior guard Ashley Fulton (13.6p, 5.6r, 3.5a, 2.1s) and 5-7 Junior guard Claudia Oliver (11.0p, 4.4r, 2.6a). 5-8 Junior forward Chloey Leach (7.7p, 6.2r), 5-9 Senior forward Riley Scroggins (5.8p, 5.0r), and 5-9 Sophomore wing Olivia Simpson (3.6p, 7.0r, 2.0s) round out the starting lineup. Look for Southwestern to win double-digit games and attempt to post their first winning record in three years. Henryville will play with nearly the same roster as they did a year ago, so 10 wins isn’t out of the question. The Hornets are centered around 5-4 Senior guard Hillary White and 5-8 Junior forward Mylee Marcum. 5-5 Senior guard Alexis Marion, 5-6 Junior forward Allie McAfee, and 5-7 Junior wing Chloe Harter offer experience and depth. Clarksville unfortunately graduated three of their top five players from a season ago, including athletic guard Dahja Gaines (14.3p, 6.4r). Points will be at a premium this year, as no one returns with a scoring average greater than 5.5 points per game. The best candidates to step up, however, include 5-6 Senior wing Courtney Austin (5.5p, 4.1r, 2.4s) and 5-7 Sophomore forward Jayonna Shirley (3.3p, 3.9r). It will be interesting to see how much Shirley has grown since her rookie season.
North Knox (28-2), SAG 57, SOS 169
Linton-Stockton (19-4), SAG 86, SOS 167
Paoli (16-11), SAG 114, SOS 174
South Knox (18-7), SAG 123, SOS 161
Sullivan (15-10), SAG 143, SOS 166
Eastern Greene (17-8), SAG 146, SOS 227
Mitchell (5-18), SAG 234, SOS 239
North Daviess (8-15), SAG 274, SOS 272
The top six teams in Sectional #47 were among the top 32 teams in Class 2A last year, according to Sagarin Ratings. That means Sectional #47 will be a hard-fought, drag-out battle in February. North Knox made it to the Final Four last year, before falling at the hands of eventual State Champion Forest Park, 41-36. With their top four scorers returning, and five of their top six, a repeat performance is definitely in the cards for the Lady Warriors. 5-8 Junior wing(11.1p, 4.0r) is back to start for a third year in a row. She is a long athlete who can score it at all three levels. 5-7 Junior wing (9.1p, 4.7r, 2.5s) also returns, and she had a nice Summer and Fall. 5-8 Sophomore guard (7.9p) showed flashes of breaking out as a Freshman, and she could become their leading scorer this time around. 5-3 Junior guard (7.0p, 2.4r) is returning from a Spring knee injury, but once she gets back to 100%, she is as hard-working as they come. 5-5 Senior forward Madison McCory (5.3p, 2.9r) should help inside and out. While the Warriors aren’t very tall, they are a real handful. Linton-Stockton is another team who has experienced a great deal of success over the past six seasons, including Class 2A State Championships in 2020 and 2021. They again look to be strong in 2023-2024 and could compete for a Sectional #47 title. 5-8 Senior guard (17.0p, 5.9r, 3.7a, 2.8s) and 5-7 Senior guard (12.0p, 3.0r, 2.8a, 3.2s) are back once last time, and they strike fear in opposing coaches. They are both versatile, tough-nosed, and hard-working kids who do a little of everything to help the Miners win. From there, the Miners turn to a solid 2025 class to round out the rotation. 5-6 Junior guard and twin 5-7 wing Alyvia McKee have each logged a ton of minutes in their careers and play with effort and versatility like the Seniors. Then, 5-9 Junior forward Clare Stanton, 6-0 post Becca Robbins, and 6-1 post Taryn Thuis give Linton-Stockton plenty of size up front to help patrol the paint.
The Paoli Rams will have to play for the first time in four years without graduated point guard Jackie Crews (14.6p, 3.4r, 2.2a), which will most certainly be quite an adjustment. Five players graduated in total, and post Ryleigh Anderson (8.2p, 6.2r), plus forward Amelia Hess (4.1p), started a number of games throughout their careers. 5-9 Senior forward Carley Higgins (9.4p, 5.8r, 2.6a) is now on the short list of players who should step into leadership roles in 2023-2024. She has starting experience and has shown signs of becoming a double-digit scorer. 5-8 Junior forward Jehrico Hopper (3.5p, 3.7r) and 5-5 Sophomore guard Maddie Vernon (2.8p) also saw rotation minutes a season ago. Additional players who could earn a look early and often this season include 5-6 Senior guard Anna Radcliff, 5-4 Junior guard Lilly Hall, and Junior wing Avery Crews. Expect the Rams to compete, but they could have a hiccup or two this season. South Knox is another talented team, and they could approach the 20-win threshold this time around as they pair a couple of Junior stars with a talented Freshman, plus other key returnees. 5-9 Junior point guard(16.9p, 6.7r, 5.1a) is a strong, versatile, skillful player who plays with nice poise and understanding. 6-0 Junior forward (10.5p, 8.0r, 4.0a, 2.4s, 1.6b) is extremely long, fluid, and versatile. She can battle in the paint or stick the open 3-pointer. Hill’s younger sister, 5-7 Freshman , also has Spartan fans excited, as she brings talent and playmaking ability to the backcourt. 5-9 Senior forward Meredith Adams and 5-10 Senior forward Shelby Burke offer interior experience. The Spartans have posted winning seasons four of the last five years, but they haven’t won a Sectional title since 2019. They look to get back to that level this year. Sullivan should remain as a double-digit win team, as they return five of their top seven players, however graduates Avery Wiltermood (10.5p, 2.9r, 2.2a) and Klaire Williams (5.0p, 5.1r) will be significant losses from the lineup. The Golden Arrows do return a trio of promising youngsters in 6-0 Junior post Jacie Wilson (12.8p, 7.6r), 5-5 Sophomore point guard (5.6p, 2.5r, 3.6a, 2.8s), and 5-7 Sophomore guard Allyson McKinney (4.3p, 2.7r). Wilson is a problem inside, while Kelley is a really nice facilitator who could have a breakout season. Seniors Lexis Drake (6.8p, 3.0r), a 5-7 guard, and Alexis Grindstaff (3.7p, 4.3r), a 5-10 post, should provide Senior leadership this season.
Eastern Greene is one of those teams on the fence who could ride their star player to a similar record from a year ago, or they could struggle at times with a couple of key graduation losses. Gone from the Thunderbirds are Kenady Hudson (12.9p, 5.8r), Kaylyn Criger (3.8p, 2.5r), plus two additional graduates. The loss of Hudson inside will be key. However, younger sister(17.5p, 6.3r, 3.6a, 2.4s), a 5-10 do-everything Senior wing, brings hope for a lot of success once again. She is strong, skilled, and tough, plus she has proven in the past she can will her team to a win from time to time. Senior sisters Bianca Wyatt (5.1p, 2.6r). a 5-4 guard, and Melanie Wyatt (4.5p in 8 games), a 5-6 forward, plus Senior Mallorie Elliott (3.7p, 3.9r), a 5-7 post, give the Thunderbirds a rather veteran lineup at the minimum. 5-6 Junior guard Chyann Padgett (2.6p) also brings experience to the Eastern Greene lineup. North Daviess won seven games two years ago, eight games last year, and they look to top at least 10 wins this season. Losing point guard Madi Lengacher to the diploma doesn’t help, but there are plenty of Cougars to be excited about. The first could be 5-9 Senior wing Brynlee Perkins (8.3p, 2.4r in 2021-2022). She transferred in from Eastern Greene this year, and while she didn’t play as a Junior, she started as both a Freshman and Sophomore for good Thunderbird squads. 5-8 Junior forward is a strong, hard-working kid who plays all over the floor. Add to that 5-6 Junior guard Kelsye Riggins, 5-5 Junior guard Meah Dalrymple, plus 5-10 Junior forwards Lanie Cornelius and Gracelyn Byrer, and that’s a solid nucleus to compete against. It could be a tough season for Mitchell, as the Bluejackets have seen a number of key players graduate over the past two years. Gone this time are do-everything forward Brooklyn Peterson (11.3p, 8.3r, 2.0a), wing Mylea Slone (13.8p, 3.8r), plus three additional graduates. That leaves 5-11 Senior post Jillian Bond (10.3p, 8.7r) as the only returnee with significant experience. The Bluejackets will be looking to several younger players to step into critical roles if they want to improve upon last season.
Forest Park (26-3), SAG 38, SOS 123
South Spencer (17-8), SAG 135, SOS 190
Crawford County (15-9), SAG 154, SOS 168
North Posey (9-12), SAG 190, SOS 152
Perry Central (6-17), SAG 256, SOS 170
Tell City (5-18), SAG 270, SOS 164
Now with back-to-back State Championships in Class 2A, a three-peat would be incredibly impressive, especially considering the graduation losses for Forest Park. The Rangers graduated seven players, five of which started in their final game. Missing are Amber Tretter (15.9p, 8.9r, 2.3a), Carley Begle (11.3p, 5.2r), Lydia Betz (9.1p, 2.3r, 3.2a), Gabey Gray (4.3p, 3.8r), Danielle Eckert (2.5p), Alivia Gehlhausen, and Erica Werner. 5-8 Senior guard Katlyn Betz (2.1p) returns with the most experience, and 5-7 Sophomore Jenna Berg (2.5p) was instant offense in the 10 games she saw late action in. Those two could be the new backcourt, while 5-8 Senior forward Ashlyn Dilger, 5-9 Senior forward Grace Sutherlin, and 5-8 Junior wing Carly Schnell look for their opportunities in the frontcourt. Also keep an eye on 6-1 Freshman, who once she adapts to the physicality of a Varsity game, could be a problem inside. South Spencer is another team in transition, as they graduated six players, including leading scorer Trinity Britton (15.2p, 4.3r, 4.1a, 2.5s) and Sofi Young (6.3p, 5.3r). Additionally, Junior guard Haley Britton (1.7p) transferred to Bloomfield. Still, South Spencer has reason for optimism, as 5-7 Senior point guard (11.1p, 4.2r, 4.1a, 2.3s). She is a steady, poised, high IQ guard who can run the offense or knock down open shots. 5-5 Senior wing Sally Shelton (7.2p, 4.0r), 5-10 Junior forward Kendalyn Shourds (3.6p, 5.4r), and 5-6 Sophomore guard Caidence Crane (1.8p) bring back solid experience as well. Building depth will be key, but it could take them a month or so to get rolling. Crawford County again looks to win 15 games this season, but they must overcome the graduation losses of Emily Kerce and Natalie Stroud, both solid interior players who scored, rebounded, and defended. 5-4 Junior point guard Maddyson Sturgeon gives Wolfpack fans some hope, as she is in her third year at the helm. 5-10 Sophomore forward Emmy Stroud is another underclassman with some upside, while Seniors Riley House, a 5-4 guard, and Kylie Rickenbaugh, a 5-10 forward, add veteran experience.
North Posey will once again look to 5-11 Junior forward(9.4p, 6.7r) to lead the Vikings into action this season, however, she should have a lot more help this year. 2022-2023 saw several Freshmen earn early playing time, but that thrown-in-the-fire approach could pay dividends this year and down the road. Sophomores include 5-8 forward Jazalyn Ward (8.0p, 6.0r), 5-6 guard Mallory Luigs (7.8p, 3.8r, 2.1a), 5-8 post Ella Weatherholt (4.9p, 5.9r), and 5-4 guard (4.7p), all looking to contribute a lot more their second time around. Add to that group the Senior duo of Ashton Elpers (6.6p, 3.7r, 2.1a), a 5-6 guard, and Ashleigh Blankenship (6.0p, 4.2r), a 5-8 wing, and the Vikings’ top seven players all return. Perry Central could have a tough go of it this season, as they graduated four players, including their top three scorers. Gone are Maggie Cunningham (8.7p, 7.6r), Jadyn Smith (7.0p, 5.9r), Emily.Parker (7.0p, 5.0r), and Emily Elmer. A rather inexperienced returning group will need to figure out how to manufacture more points in 2023-2024. Best of the returnees are Senior Makenna Labhart (3.9p), Junior Teyah Mullis (3.2p), Senior Katie Lynch (3.2p), Senior Emma Osborne (3.1p, 2.3r), and Senior Madelyn Kelly (2.7p, 2.0r). Tell City took some lumps last season, and they did graduate Jaylie Albin (8.5p, 3.5r, 2.0a) and Rylie Schroeder (6.5p, 3.5r), however, the Marksmen return a lot of youngsters who gained valuable experience, and that could benefit them sooner rather than later. 5-7 Sophomore wing Reese Ford (9.5p, 4.3r) had an impressive rookie season and should only get better. 5-6 Junior guard Emerson Hoesli (6.1p, 4.0r, 2.0a), 5-8 Junior forward Kinzley Napier (3.8p, 4.1r), and 6-0 Sophomore post Addison Coyle (2.8p, 2.8r) figure to step up in 2023-2024. Also look for an immediate impact from 5-8 Freshman wing Ollie Toothman.