The Lady Indians basketball team won only one game last season.
This year, they’re off to a good start and quickly matched their win total from last season in defeating the Smyrna Lady Eagles 39-35 on the road in their opening game.
Since Indian River hasn’t had a junior varsity program the last two years, many of its players have been pulled up to the varsity ranks prematurely, to learn the game in what seemed to be a trial by fire.
Last year, Kiarra Graves was the Lady Indians’ only upperclassmen in a lineup that started mostly sophomores and freshmen. But this year the Lady Indians are much more experienced, though they still haven’t played very much basketball together.
The Lady Indians have nine upperclassmen on the roster and five underclassmen, including sophomore starting guard Marnisha Mitchell.
This year, the Lady Indians are more experienced, improved and ready for whatever challenges the Southern Henlopen Conference brings.
In what turned out to be a back-and-forth game due to numerous turnovers by both teams, the Lady Indians put the clamps down in the fourth quarter to secure their first win of the season — in part because Charne Rayne’s improvement.
Four Lady Indians scored seven or more points (Jasmin Holden, seven; Michelle Givans, seven; Rayne, nine; and Adelia Parker, a team-high 11) in the contest but it was Rayne’s maturity as the team’s point guard that helped put her team over the hump.
Rayne scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter and, according to head coach Summer Chorman, has become a dependable floor general.
“She’s reeled it in a little bit,” Chorman said of Rayne. “She’s stepped up as our point guard and become much more dependable.”
Rayne has the physical ability to play the position and push the ball into fast break situation, but oftentimes she would commit costly turnovers or miss shots at close range because she’d move a mile a minute. But with age comes experience — something the Lady Indians have plenty of now.
“The girls from last year were very happy (with the win) and were a little surprised in themselves,” Chorman said. “This is a different team and we’re a little more aggressive.”
“But part of it is that we’re not as young this year. Most of our players are juniors and up.”
The Lady Indians hope to stay hot on the (road) trail because they play their next three games at Lake Forest (Dec. 8), Nandua (Dec. 12) and Woodbridge (Dec. 15) before having a chance to play in front of the home crowd against the Milford Lady Buccaneers on Dec. 19.