Mix of youth and veteran leadership expected to lead Athenians
November 7, 2019
First-year Crawfordsville girls’ basketball coach Tyler Smith is looking to his senior and sophomore classes to help turn the program around after a 4-20 season in 2018-19 — their fourth straight losing season.
The most important returning piece is senior and defending Journal Review Player of the Year Lauren Kellerman, who averaged 14.6 points per game last season, and is closing in on the 1,000-point mark.
“It’s huge to not only have her (Kellerman), but good senior leadership from all the seniors being able to fill in a totally new coaching staff on certain things and working with them.”
Seniors Megan Simmons and Peyton Sinnet also return, along with Georgia Kincaid, who spent time with both the junior-varsity and varsity as a junior last season.
Smith takes over this season for Tony Bean, who spent three seasons guiding the Athenians. Smith most recently coached eighth-grade boys’ basketball at Crawfordsville Middle School last season. Joining Smith on his staff will be varsity assistant Tyler Davis, junior-varsity coach Kiersten Hayes, and assistant coach Jack Taylor.
“Watching film from last year I wanted to keep a little bit of continuity and a little bit of what they were doing, and kind of expand on that,” Smith said. “So they’re at least a little familiar, so it’s not a completely new system, but definitely our own spin on a few of the offenses.”
In addition to Kellerman, the Athenians return sophomores Shea Williams (6.6 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists), and Olivia Reed (2.9 points per game, and 3.2 rebounds per game). Liddy McCarty will also be back for her sophomore season.
Smith knows confidence from his young players will be a key to their success.
“To have really a lot of good girls in the sophomore class, which a lot of them did get a lot of experience last season,” he said. “What we want to do is from the ground up starting with the youth program, but to have some girls that have their feet wet a little bit, and to be able to jump in and have a little more confidence. It’s not always just winning that brings confidence, it is experience and knowing that ‘I can play at this level.’”
Sophomore Maycee York and junior Emma Balaz will help round out the varsity roster, but will both miss time to start the season. Sophomore Kearston Hutchens is also expected to make an impact this season.
Crawfordsville averaged just 39.5 points per game last season, while allowing 58.6, and Smith realizes it’s a process to get his team to buy in to being a defensive team first.
“I think as coaches we talk about being defensive minded, and that doesn’t always mean the players fully buy into it yet,” he said.
“I would say the respectability of the program from now until the end of the year, but being defensive minded and trying to just bring toughness,” he continued about the team’s goals for the upcoming season. “I’ve seen improvement but by sectional time I want to see just really hard-nosed and tough-minded team.”
Crawfordsville opens the season Friday night at home against Seeger.