Cougars squad riding win streak with confidence


This season, Trinity Lutheran’s girls basketball team expects to win each time it takes to the hardwood.

It’s no longer a mentality of hoping to win but believing that when they leave a gym — home or away — they will be on the right side of the win-loss column.

Trinity is on pace to have one of most successful seasons in school history.

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The Cougars (11-1) are riding a nine-game winning streak, the second-longest spree since the 2013-14 season when the team finished 18-5.

Only one team from Trinity has won more consecutive games. The 2011-12 team won 15 straight and finished 17-4 overall.

With Saturday’s victory against Oldenburg Academy, the Cougars have matched last year’s total number of wins.

Its lone loss is to a Class 3A school, Brownstown Central.

While a variety of factors have resulted in more wins, Trinity coach Mike Lang said it’s the senior class that has led the team in its current direction.

This year’s crop of seniors includes Abby Hackman, Jodi Goecker, Piper Acton and Savanna Setty.

“I really believe that this year, our seniors have a lot of confidence in themselves,” Lang said. “As each game goes on, you see their confidence growing not just in themselves but in their teammates around them. They have a trust in their teammates and coaching staff, as well.”

Thus far into the season, the Cougars are averaging 54.1 points per game while allowing 35.3.

While it is putting up points, players said they think the defense has made a big difference.

“Our defense has improved a lot,” Acton said. “Everyone is getting more involved in the game. It’s not focused on one person. It’s spread throughout the team. More people are stepping up as the season goes on.”

Most all of the wins haven’t been close.

The Cougars are beating their opponents by an average of 18.8 points.

“Mentally, we go into every game knowing we can win,” Hackman said. “That’s really important. We’re not cocky, but we’re going to try hard every game. We go in expecting to win.”

Trinity’s bigs have made a difference on both ends of the court.

One of the biggest additions for the Cougars has been the emergence of 6-foot-1 freshman Sydney Jaynes.

Jaynes, who came from St. John’s Sauers, is averaging 12.2 points, eight rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.9 blocks per game.

Hackman, at 5-foot-11, is putting up 11.1 points and 10.2 rebounds. She has 112 total rebounds.

With the forwards in the middle, more opportunities have opened up for the Cougars’ guards.

Junior guard Savannah Harweger also has been a major contributor in the starting lineup, posting 11.4 per game.

Acton is scoring 9.9 points per game, and Goecker is posting 3.6 points, 2.6 steals, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game at the point.

Averaging 12.5 assists per game, the Cougars are distributing the ball.

“Every team we’re seeing now is clogging the middle on us,” Lang said. “We’ve seen triple-teams down low. We’ve seen teams put four players in the lane on us. Piper’s (Acton) 3-point percentage has really increased. We’re talking to Maddie (Bell) and Savannah (Harweger) more about rising up and hitting the outside shot.

“Sydney can also hit the outside shot. When you start bringing the size outside, it brings more mismatches. Abby can become isolated in the post or we’re able to get drives. We’re not seeing much man-to-man defense right now. Everyone’s clogging the middle.”

Thus far, the Cougars have beaten two teams for the first time ever on its schedule this season: Austin and Providence.

While the Cougars are confident, they aren’t looking too far ahead.

“Everything is one day at a time,” Lang said. “We preach that every day at practice. You talk about the biggest differences with these kids, last year, we went to the gym and hoped to win. Now, they’re walking into the gym expecting to win. It’s fun to coach.”

The players and coaches know the sectional will pose a serious challenge.

“We need to be realistic,” Lang said. “(Potentially) playing West Washington at West Washington in the sectional, we will have to be really good. We don’t want to look past them. They have a great problem — their kids can shoot. We will go down with a nice size advantage on them. You don’t know how the draw is going to go. We try not to look past. We tell the girls they have a target on their back.”

The Cougars have been ranked throughout the season and have appreciated the recognition.

“I think a lot of the 1A coaches in southern Indiana knew we had a shot to be pretty good,” Lang said. “I think it speaks about the program and the respect the kids have gotten. We knew we had a shot to be pretty good. We haven’t been disappointed. We try to not pay attention to the rankings, but the kids take peeks at them. It gives them confidence.”

The Cougars have 11 games left on the schedule. They will play four at the Toby Yoho Tournament on Dec. 29 and 30 at Eastern Greene.

With a handful of ranked teams from multiple classes in the mix, Lang said the team is looking forward to the challenge.

Tonight, the Cougars look to extend their winning streak to 10 as they host Christian Academy of Indiana.

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