FORT WAYNE – The inaugural area girls basketball media day took place Wednesday in Northrops cafeteria, and it was an opportunity for the teams from South Side and Bishop Luers to reflect on how close they came to championships last season and contemplate how to take the next step.
The Archers, who were 24-4 last season, went to the Class 4A state title game but lost to Bedford North Lawrence 54-51 in Terre Haute. The Knights, who were 14-12, fell 74-55 to Eastern (Greentown) in the 2A semistate at Warsaw.
We are returning to defend what we accomplished last year and make a strong run at state again, South Side coach Juanita Goodwell said. We always felt accomplished but couldnt push through the door. Last year, we opened the doors as far as we could. We still want the state title, but getting down there and knowing what its it going to take, thats the benefit of what we did last year.
Gone for South Side, which won the SAC tournament and regular-season conference championship, will be Ariana Simmons, DeJoyah Johnson and Lynnia Noel.
We have the talent to go back (to state), said senior Lakyn Gulley, a returning starter along with senior Brittni Clopton. It lets everybody know that we still have something at South Side, and we can continue to do it.
Luers, which returns five starters, gave up 48 points and 20 rebounds to Easterns Brittany Neeley, and 16 points and 12 rebounds to her twin sister, Bethany, in the loss at semistate. That ended the Knights three-year run to the state finals.
Last year we were quite young, and this year we are looking for better things, Luers coach Denny Renier said. It was a learning experience last year. Our record kind of indicated that. We made a good tournament run, and I thought we would. What happened in that last game, I dont know if I can explain how (Brittany Neeley) went off like she did but it happened.
Another deep postseason run for the Knights will have to come in 3A, as they have moved up a class this year.
We take every game like that is going to be our hardest game, Luers sophomore Emma Wolfe said. We dont really determine who is on our schedule and hard it is going to be. We just practice for the game that day and come in playing like it is our last.
Coming from that rough loss, that really motivates us, showing people how young we were last year. But we can get to semistate, and we are ready to show people we can do it again and hopefully go farther.
Canterbury was the lone area team with a state championship last year, beating Vincennes Rivet 42-35 in the Class A title game.