The 2019-20 Jackson County girls basketball season was put to bed last Saturday, but what a ride it was for the players, coaches and fans of their respective teams.
There were many unknowns entering the seasons, and surprises cropped up throughout the campaign.
Class A Trinity Lutheran reached the mountaintop in terms of the rankings, reaching the top spot late in the season for the first time in program history. Area rival Brownstown Central also cracked the top 10 in Class 3A late in the season before its state tournament run.
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It’ll be interesting to see how the Braves handle coming painstakingly close to a state title berth next year. There are plenty of pieces to build on for next season, but the Braves will miss three key seniors, who were unmistakably the catalysts for this most recent run.
Brownstown Central coach Brandon Allman, just in his first year at the helm of the program, has mentioned many times the impact his seniors — Ashley Schroer, Halle Hehman and Zoe Fountain — had on getting the team ready for the season.
He spoke at length about the trio after the Braves’ semistate loss Saturday.
“All three of them have great attitudes, and they’re going to be so successful in life,” Allman said. “Ashley Schroer is the top three on our scoring list, she in the top five in our rebounding list, and Zoe Fountain, who was just at a state-level scholarship pageant, she just comes in and works her tail off. We’re going to miss them a ton, and there’s no way we can replace them. We’ve just got to work and improve and keep building.”
He heaped a lot of praise on Hehman, who has amassed a ton of postseason hardware in just a handful of months.
“You look at someone like Halle Hehman, she just won a state title in volleyball, and she’s a sectional and regional champ in basketball,” Allman said. “There aren’t too many kids that have the accolades that she’s got.”
All three filled different roles for the Braves, and the hurt of coming up short was evident. Allman hopes that hurt fuels his underclass players coming back for more next year.
“Hopefully, it hurts a lot, and I saw a lot of hurt and tears in our locker room,” Allman said. “If getting beat at this level doesn’t motivate you and drive you, then you’re in the wrong business. It’s going to take a lot of individual improvement and then we have to improve collectively as a whole. They’ve got to get better, I’ve got to get better and it’s going to be hard to top this.”
The Braves will bring back enough talent and varsity experience, making them formidable again next season. Junior Katherine Benter, who led the Braves in scoring for the season, will be chief among those that’ll be back.
But the Braves won’t be the only team bringing back a plethora of gifted players for another shot at success.
Starting with the aforementioned Cougars, the Class A juggernauts will bring back both Sydney Jaynes and Bailey Tabeling, who scored a majority of their points this season.
They will. however. miss their perimeter stopper, Emma Goecker, and leading rebounder, Hannah Sabotin.
Seymour will return its entire team minus Aidan Hiester, who recently was named Hoosier Hills Conference honorable mention.
Two major pieces to the Owls’ team next season will be forwards Grace Meyer and Grace Schrader. When both were firing this season, the Owls could compete with anyone.
The Crothersville Tigers stand to lose the most varsity experience, at least in terms of seniors, losing four varsity players to graduation in Rebekah Cook, Makayla Helt, Isabell Lewis and Makinzee Isley.
But the Tigers’ youth gained valuable experience late in the year, and they’ll be back to once again challenge for a Southern Athletic Conference title.
Medora, too, has reason for a positive outlook next year despite going winless this season. The Hornets lose just one senior in Kelsey Turner, but they’ll bring back the entire roster with another year of varsity experience under their belts.
Low numbers forced coach Brad McCammon to practice with his junior high players, who will step into varsity roles next year with what to expect next year.