By Nick Gonnella Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
---- — For the first time in four years, the Greensburg girls basketball team has a chance to post back-to-back winning seasons.
Head coach Mike Miller said following up last year’s 12-10 record with another winning mark not only would be meaningful to the seniors, but signal the continued rise of the program.
“We expect this team to be as competitive, or more competitive, than we were last year,” said Miller. “I really like this team, mostly because of our attitude. We really want to win and compete.”
Miller pointed out two big factors in Greensburg’s favor.
“We had great summers and worked hard. They really want to win,” he said. “(Second), we can be really good defensively.”
The Pirates allowed 50 points or less in 17 of 22 games, and 40 points or less in 10 games.
“We’ll be able to put a lot of pressure on the ball. We’ll use a lot of different looks defensively,” said Miller.
The team’s athleticism and depth will enable Greensburg to pressure teams aggressively for four quarters, playing 10 girls regularly who will rotate throughout the game.
“We think we can do a lot of good things with our lineup,” said Miller. “We have a lot of depth at the wing and guard positions.
Greensburg graduated six seniors, including starters Clare Owens and Shelby Ward.
“They did a great job of pushing in practice,” said Miller. “They were very determined to get back to having a winning season. I’m hoping our juniors and seniors will continue that.”
Just two seniors, Joanna Redelman and Sydney Wettering, will fill the leadership roles this year – a smaller senior class than in past seasons.
“We have a pretty good size of junior and sophomore classes to help that out,” said Miller. “They will do a pretty good job of being leaders and making sure we’re doing the right things.”
While Greensburg looks to continue its tradition of strong defense, Miller is interested to see how the offense improves over the past year. The Pirates shot in the low 30’s in field goal percentage, but Miller envisions a much improved rate.
“As we go through the season, we’ll be much better offensively,” he said. “Hopefully that will be a lot better this year. I think we’ll be balanced in scoring. Four or five girls will provide most of the scoring, instead of just two or three.”
The Pirates’ top two scorers, junior Jessica Banaschak (221 points in regular season) and sophomore Taylor McIntosh (143 points), earned All-Conference status for the first time. They will be counted on again to be among Greensburg’s scoring leaders.
One of the most improved scorers, according to Miller, is junior Abbey Denton. The guard worked to improve on last season’s 94 points, fourth-most on the team.
Redelman and junior Chelsea Hersley, two players who missed all or a big portion of the season with knee injuries, figure to improve just by returning healthy.
“That’ll add depth to the things we can do,” said Miller. “Chelsea will help Taylor with ball-handling duties.” Miller added he expects Hersley to assume Owens’ role as the team’s leader in steals, loose balls and deflections.
“She’s a very competitive person, and that will help us,” said Miller of Hersley.
Miller called Redelman (87 points in 15 games) a good leader and a good inside presence who can hit short jumpshots.
“She’s become a good shooter,” said Miller. “I’m very hopeful that she can step up and play well.”
Junior forward Megan Schmidt will see a bigger defensive role on the varsity level, playing out on the floor and wing a lot more than she has.
“She’s a very good defender, and getting steals and making things happen,” said Miller.
Also likely to see more playing time on varsity is junior Emma Wolter, who will chip in solid minutes on both ends of the floor.
Joining the team from North Decatur is junior Savannah Harrison, a 5-foot-11 forward.
“Savannah has a lot of potential and has done a lot of good things,” said Miller. “She’s very athletic and good defensively. She could be in the mix before the year is over, for sure.”
Miller said he likes the crop of sophomores who will have a chance to contribute. Keauna Schultz, whose playing time increased throughout last winter, will contribute on offensive rebounds and handling the ball. Kasey Moeller and Allie Geis will be in the mix of the top nine or 10. Miller said Geis is “very good around the basket” and rebounding.
Miller said Maddi Hellmich, a guard whose varsity role looks to increase, is “shooting the ball much, much better.”
Looking at the future of Greensburg basketball, Miller sees two freshmen that can contribute significantly and a strong eighth grade class. Claire Fleetwood, a 5-foot-11 freshman, will have a shot to contribute minutes at forward.
“We’re still developing,” said Miller. “I think we really have a chance to grow this year. You’ll see some kids step up and do well for us.”
Miller noted that whichever combination ends up on the court as the season progresses, he is confident in the rotation that the coaching staff will use.
“We think we can do a lot of good things with our lineup,” said Miller. “It will be interesting to see who falls where.”
Competing for the conference title will be tougher than before, with the addition of Class 4A Connersville and Class 3A’s top-ranked Rushville.
“We add two ridiculously tough teams to the conference,” said Miller. “East Central will be strong, as always. Batesville will be tough again. Franklin County started freshman last year, so they’ll be better. Lawrenceburg is a veteran team. The conference is not going to give any breaks. I expect us to be in the mix. We’ll be fine.”
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.