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SECTIONAL PREVIEW: Chargers are finally healthy for tourney time

For the first time all season, the North Montgomery girls’ basketball team is fully healthy. The Chargers were able to get a glimpse of what that looked like by scoring a season-high 52 points in a win over Western Boone to close out the regular season last Friday.

Through quarantines, positive tests, and injuries, the Chargers have had to rely on several girls to play a multitude of roles. What once was a promising season turned into a campaign focused on improvement.

“With everything that we have been through — quarantines, positive testing, and injuries — we have had to rely on multiple players to fill roles that they are not accustomed to playing,” North Montgomery coach Ryan Nuppnau said. “This in turn has made them individually more versatile and more confident in their abilities. I think Friday night’s game against Western Boone showed the individual growth of each player; and therefore, how much better of a team we are as a result.”

North Montgomery started the season 2-0, but after the injuries started to mount and quarantine situations began, the Chargers lost 11 in a row before winning two of their last four. The Chargers enter sectional play at 4-13 and received the bye at the IHSAA Class 3A Sectional No. 25 at Tri-West. They will play the winner of Frankfort (2-16) and Monrovia (7-11) in Friday’s first semifinal contest. The Chargers defeated Frankfort 47-39 late in the regular season.

“We are blessed that we got to have four solid days of practice before our first sectional game on Friday,” Nuppnau said. “Our focus for the first two days will be purely on us — what do we need to do to improve? And we are grateful that we got to play last Friday night against WeBo with all our girls to see what we need to improve on going forward.”

Nuppnau said the Chargers will watch film to focus on their own strength and weaknesses before focusing on their opponent once they learn who wins the Frankfort and Monrovia matchup, which will take place on Tuesday night.

Katie Rice leads the Chargers with 10 points per game and 10 rebounds in seven games played. North Montgomery averages 32 points per game and gives up 44.5 points a contest. Frankfort scores at just a 36.1 clip and has a defensive average of 64, while Monrovia averages 42.3 points per game and gives up 50.6. Jordan Frazier leads the Hot Dogs with 13.3 points per game, while Michelle Willett averages 11.9 for the Bulldogs.

In all likelyhood, if North Montgomery wins on Friday, they will face Tri-West in the sectional final on Saturday. The Bruins are the heavy favorite. The Chargers lost to the Bruins 85-11 in the regular season, but were without several players. The Chargers haven’t played for a sectional title since 2013, and haven’t won a title since 2007.

“For us to compete for a sectional title, the girls must believe in one another and trust one another,” Nuppnau said. “For most teams in which you haven’t been able to play with one another, that would be a mounting task to ask of. But I am confident in the girls that they will do what must be done this week to give us a chance to win a title.”

Friday’s game will be broadcast on Thunder 103.9 and you can follow updates on Twitter at JR_Sports.

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