IR girls’ basketball takes court with new starters, coach
Last year’s Indian River High School girls’ basketball team finished a respectable 12-8 on the season. Having graduated all the starters from that team, however, the Lady Indians find themselves young and inexperienced headed into the 2013 regular season.
“We lost all five starters from last year,” explained first-year head coach Matt Mayette. “We have one senior this year.”
Despite their lack of varsity experience, the girls battled tough last Tuesday, Dec. 3, playing well against Polytech High School — a team that fluctuates divisions from year to year between the Henlopen North and Henlopen South.
Junior Taylor Billinger is the only returning player from last year’s Lady Indians squad, but junior guard Maggie Allison and freshman guard Maggie Ford have stepped up to establish themselves as instrumental pieces of the Indians’ offense. The team’s only senior, Alex Myers, will offer leadership. Myers is also a soccer goalie, and Mayette pinpointed her as the team’s hardest worker.
“Last year, when [Billinger] played, there was no focus on her when she stepped on the court,” explained Mayette. “This year, all the focus is going to be on her. She’s going to be getting the best defensive player every game. She’s going to get double-teams. Teams are going to plan for her, which is going to be her toughest challenge.”
According to Mayette, there was a disappointing turnout this year for tryouts. In fact, there aren’t even enough girls playing this year to form a junior varsity team.
“It definitely was disappointing, but the past couple years there hasn’t been a J.V. program either. I think we battle softball and soccer. A lot of those girls are training, and those programs are very successful.”
One of the ways to generate interest in the sport is to start from the ground up, according to Mayette, who frequently communicates with the Selbyville Middle School coach to discuss ways of making it easier for the girls to transition to the high school game.
“We’re a small school, so we’ve really had to invest our time in [the players coming up],” explained Mayette. “The biggest thing is, if they can come in and associate the vocabulary, we can speed up that process.”
Despite the team’s inexperience, Mayette said that he has seen improvement and his expectations have changed even since the beginning of the pre-season.
“There’s a lot of improvement we’ve had from the first scrimmage until now,” he said. “We’ve kind of picked up our expectations a little bit. We have a lot of character in that locker room, a lot of heart.”
The Lady Indians will open their regular season this Friday, Dec. 6, at home, against the Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.