Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 7, 2012

Lady Cougars pleased with returning talent

Nick Gonnella
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The South Decatur girls basketball team returned to the hardwood Tuesday night with hopes of continuing the program’s upward progress.

The Lady Cougars have improved their win total the past two seasons under third-year head coach Amy Macy. Following a three-win mark in the 2009-2010 season, South more than doubled it with seven in Macy’s first year. Coming off the program’s first winning season (12-10) in more than a decade, Macy believes the current squad can win more.

“They’ve been working hard and working together,” she said. “They have high goals and have been working at those goals. They would like to win a sectional championship.”

Macy noted that competing for a championship in the Mid-Hoosier Conference is also attainable.

“Our conference has improved, but we think we can be at the top of it,” she said. She noted an additional year of experience for her team and the departure of Triton Central. She expects Morristown and Waldron to be improved, while North Decatur and senior Jenna Meyer will provide a challenge twice this season.

Despite the graduation of Taylor Miller, Hauser’s all-time leading scorer, Macy noted that the Lady Jets are a potential sectional opponent and will still be tough to beat.

South developed its identity as an aggressive, defensive team with the help of 2012 graduates Kassie Diekhoff, Rylie Buening, Jerica Meadows and Ashley Hawkins.

Following a challenging matchup at Brown County, South travels to sectional opponent Rising Sun Saturday night. South beat the Lady Shiners in the first round of the sectional last season.

The preparations took flight with a summer league and a 30-game slate. Two returning starters, junior Julia Miller and sophomore Megan Niese, competed together in AAU in Columbus.

Sam Miller returns as the team’s lone senior. Miller has three years of varsity experience, including two years as a starter.

“Sam expects a lot out of herself, being a senior and her last year,” said Macy. “She was more aggressive last year around the basket.”

Juniors Julia Miller and Ashley Johannigman both started last season. Miller led the team in rebounds and Johannigman was South’s assists leader. Macy is counting on them to increase their roles this year.

“They’ll have to take on more of a scoring role,” she said. “They know what to expect more. Ashley could play pretty much anywhere. Julia is getting more and more confident inside, and so is Sam.”

Niese returns to start at point guard.

“Megan’s really come a long, learning the position,” said Macy. “She’s learning that role and becoming a leader, and still is a threat to score.”

Freshman Jessica Hearld will be counted on to fill a role that will help make up for the lack of depth on South’s eight-player roster.

“Jessie is learning. She’ll get that varsity experience this year. She played with us this summer and did a good job,” said Macy.

Junior Courtney Billingsley and sophomores Sydney Callahan and Olivia Watkins will see minutes off the bench.

“Courtney and Sydney did a good job on JV last year and played some varsity for experience,” said Macy.

A key area that Macy said she wants to see improve is South’s tendency to share the ball at the expense of taking shots.

“Watching the scrimmage, sometimes we’re a little too unselfish instead of taking the ball to the hole. Not taking a shot is just as bad as taking a bad shot,” said Macy. “We look to have everybody score. We have a good, solid eight girls. It could be anybody’s night any day.”

Despite a thinner lineup and a lack of a junior varsity team this season, Macy is excited about her team’s talent and potential.

“We should be fun to watch,” she said. “We get up and down the court well.”

Macy is assisted by Bill Smith and Darrin Gaines. Lisa Huff will coach the eighth grade team and Kelly Fox will coach the seventh graders.

Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.