In the summer months, long before the season-opening tip, Crothersville’s girls basketball team puts in some of its most important work on the hardwood.
Between early morning weights, league games in Edinburgh, and shootouts, the Tigers are able to identify and attack weaknesses before the volleyball and cross-country season even commences.
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CHS got away from its regular summer schedule over the weekend by playing four games at a shootout hosted by Hanover College. Each game had two 18-minute halves with running clocks, with halftime lasting five minutes, Saturday.
While the Tigers finished 1-3 on the day, with a win over Mt. Carmel (Illinois) and losses to Madison, Scottsburg, and Southwestern (Hanover), Tigers head coach Kevin Hensley said he wasn’t focused on the final scores.
“We’re looking for camaraderie,” he said. “We want them tighter as a unit. We’re adding some kids. We want them on the court for situational experience. For example, against Southwestern, we had the lead with three minutes left and gave it away. It’s a learning experience. We don’t care about scores, they don’t mean anything right now.”
The Tigers, which went 12-12 last season, will have to replace two major players this year as Piper Hensley and Maddie Riley have both graduated.
Hensley owns every 3-point record in school history at CHS and eclipsed 1,00 points for her career this past winter. She is continuing her basketball career at Centre College, and averaged 14.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.5 steals for the Tigers in her senior season.
Riley finished second all-time in assists at CHS and averaged 10.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.1 steals for the Tigers as a senior.
Both players made the All-Southern Athletic Conference team, and also played key roles in the Tigers’ first-ever sectional title run in 2017.
“A lot of the kids looked at (Riley and Hensley) to score,” coach Hensley said. “Now some different kids will need to step into new roles. Especially in the scoring department. We need every girl to try to pick it up a little more.”
The good news for the Tigers is that they’re returning a handful of players, including seniors Bekah Cook, Makayla Helt, Makinzee Isley and Isabell Lewis. Junior Grace Wilson also returns with some varsity experience while sophomore Kennadi Lakins was called up for CHS at the shootout.
“I feel like like it’s really important to be out here because it gets us ready for season,” Isley said. “Everyone is improving and coming together as a team. I feel like the team is coming together really well.”
The Tigers will also have a new player on its roster this year, with junior transfer Addy Cole joining the mix. Cole, who played for Austin last year, had plenty of minutes on the floor for the Tigers at Hanover.
The team has welcomed Cole with open arms.
“It’s really important for us to grow as a team over the summer. We have a new team member, Addy, and I think this summer has helped us getting used to playing with her,” Cook said. “She would come to school here in the early mornings before, so we already kind of knew her, so I think that has made it easier.”
Helt feels that the team’s showing improvement as the summer goes along.
“We’re getting to really know each other,” Helt said. “ I think we’re getting really good at working with our bigs down low. We’re getting them open and the ball in to them”
Lewis said that the seniors are starting to take on more leadership roles.
“Without Maddie and Piper here, we need to get used to the new team that we have,” she said. “Us seniors need to work together to make the group one.”
Hensley said the Tigers try to go to a different shootout each year. Last summer, the Tigers competed in a shootout at Charlestown.
“If a player is going to be with me all four years, they won’t want to do the same one every year,” he said. “I just mix it up a little. We haven’t done (Hanover) for five or six years.”
Workouts and league play will characterize the rest of the summer of the Tigers, Hensley said.
“We’ve been getting in the gym at 7 a.m. and getting weights and basketball in,” he said. “Some of the girls still get in there on the off-days to get shots up. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have games for league, so even if they aren’t in the gym they are still getting shots up”