By Nick Gonnella Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
---- — North Decatur head coach Brad Bryant is not underestimating the abilities of the girls basketball team this winter, despite the graduation of the program’s leading rebounder and one of the school’s most prolific scorers.
After Jenna Meyer graduated to play at Georgetown College in Kentucky, the Lady Chargers are looking to fill the void left by North’s career leading rebounder and third-highest scorer.
Also graduating was one of North’s top defenders, Cindy Krieger, Lindsay Nobbe and Veronica Yager.
Bryant understands the uncertainty of the change, but insists that the overall varsity experience will cushion the transition. Although Meyer’s production cannot be replaced, the current roster can look to six experienced seniors to lead the team.
“They all have experience on varsity, and most have a lot of experience on varsity,” said Bryant, who noted that North returns 57 percent of its scoring. “We’re looking to find four or five kids who can pick up the scoring for us.”
Seniors Andrea Volk and Anna Wallpe combined to score 243 points in the regular season. Volk, a third-year starter, was second on the team in scoring and double-digit games. Bryant said North will look to her to increase her scoring role, along with her defense.
“We really need to pick up her scoring a lot,” he said. “She is another that plays good defense.”
After Meyer, Wallpe was North’s most consistent scorer.
“She did a great job last year,” said Bryant of Wallpe. “We really didn’t see what all she was capable of last year because Jenna played. Anna’s plenty capable of scoring 10 to 12 points a game. I’m looking forward to her doing a lot of good things for us.”
North’s fourth-leading scorer, senior Abby Lamb, played significant minutes as a junior. She scored 86 points and contributed down the stretch.
“She was kind of streaky last year,” said Bryant. “We look for her to be more consistent this year.”
Senior Alison Wallpe was a major contributor in the sectional tournament and will have a chance to stand out even more this season.
Bryant likes what he sees from the Wallpe sisters.
“They both have great hands, and both are great free throw shooters,” he said. “They are solid scorers.”
Senior Emma Geis, one of North’s starting guards, returns to the court more than a season removed from rehabbing a significant injury.
“Emma is a good defender and takes care of the ball pretty well,” said Bryant.
Returning to the varsity lineup is senior Myra Steele, whom Bryant called a utility player.
“You can see her doing a little bit of everything for us this year,” said Bryant. “Myra could be that kid who can play anywhere from guard to post.”
Junior Laura Haunert, who played a key role in the volleyball team’s sectional championship, will dress for varsity and split time on JV.
“She gives us solid minutes,” said Bryant. “She is an extremely hard worker on the defensive end.”
Returning for her sophomore year at guard is Mary Hughes. Bryant credited Hughes with emerging as a starter and helping North to a run of seven wins in eight games, including sectional play.
“When we really turned the corner last year, is when Mary was starting at point guard,” said Bryant. Hughes, noted Bryant, offers good ball handling, ability to see the floor, solid defense and good rebounding for a guard. He added that she is capable of scoring 10 points a game.
“Every day we talk about her asserting herself more offensively and scoring more,” said Bryant. “She just tends to carry herself well as an athlete. She handles the ups-and-downs well.”
Bryant compared sophomore Samantha Krieger to her older sister, Cindy.
“She’s another Krieger that she has that motor running and goes hard,” said Bryant. “She played extremely hard and once she gets comfortable with varsity and gets comfortable with the speed, she’ll do some good things for us.”
A trio of freshmen will split time between the varsity and JV levels, but can become valuable keys to the program in the future.
“Those will be girls who will leave a big impression for year to come,” said Bryant of Olivia Siefert, Chelsea Hitchcock and Morgan McKinney.
Bryant said 5-foot-10 Olivia Siefert battled for rebounds throughout the scrimmage and made a nice scoring move on a shot fake.
“She’s going to have to battle the Wallpe girls,” said Bryant. “She’s done a nice job in practice. I’m really happy with what she’s done for us.”
Bryant said Hitchcock handles the ball well at the guard position.
“Chelsea’s another one coming through the ranks that shoots the ball well,” he said. “She got some experience in scrimmage about the speed of varsity and just get her feet wet.”
McKinney, according to Bryant, works hard in the post.
“We really like Morgan’s work ethic” he said. “She’s a great kid and works hard.”
Assessing the team’s strengths, Bryant pointed out the team quickness, size, ability to defend and rebound. He noted that a key theme early in the season will be patience coming off a 14-9 season and a 49-38 loss to state-ranked Austin in the sectional championship.
“We talked a lot about this,” said Bryant. “We have a lot to learn about ourselves. One of the words we used in practice is to be patient with ourselves - if we don’t have success right off the bat, to not give ourselves a hard time. If we just continue to stay focused on what we can accomplish, we can have a successful season.”
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.