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By LARRY GOFFINET
CANNELTON—With only eight players on the roster and no one taller than 5-foot-7, Cannelton’s girls basketball team again lacks height and depth.
That’s a familiar refrain for the Bulldogs. But this year they also have a shortage of experienced scorers.
They do return Mikah Hemmings, a 5-foot-5 senior guard who averaged 21.1 points per game last year, just one-tenth of a point per game short of Kathy Alvey’s school record.
But they graduated their other two players who averaged at least 7.4 points per game for last year’s 8-11 team, Allicyn Garrett and Taylor Lawalin. So Hemmings could be a marked person for opposing defenses.
A good driver, outside shooter and free-throw shooter (68.3 percent last year), Hemmings also has the quickness and ball-handling ability to make her a good college prospect.
Junior guard Melissa Clausen is the second leading returning scorer at 5.5 ppg, and Coach Mike Garrett hopes she can take some pressure off Hemmings.
“Melissa’s been shooting the ball pretty well all summer,” said Garrett.
Garrett also hopes to get more low-post scoring from junior center Mollie Ingle.
Assistant coach Ashley Chapman, who was the power forward for Tell City’s 2004 sectional championship team, “has been working with Mollie in the post,” said Garrett.
Summing up how the shooting looks overall, Garrett said, “We have our good days and our bad days. There are days when we shoot the lights out and days when we can build a whole house with all our bricks.”
Sophomore forward Jordyn Vogt, known mostly for her defense, started most of the second half of last season after Lawalin suffered a knee injury. Vogt will join Hemmings, Clausen and Ingle in this year’s starting lineup.
The fifth starter “is kind of up in the air,” Garrett said Thursday.
Candidates for that spot are freshman Nicole Harris and junior Dakota King. King has not played basketball since eighth grade but she “plays really good defense,” said Garrett.
Freshmen Kelsey Marshall and April Terry complete the roster.
“Our rebounding is going to be a struggle, as small as we are,” said Garrett.
He said guards Hemmings and Clausen will probably join Ingle as the top rebounders. “Mikah will probably play down low a little bit in our zone.”
Hemmings averaged 6.4 rebounds per game last year and Ingle added 4.4.
Because of the lack of depth and overall quickness, the Bulldogs will play “a lot of zone,” said Garrett. “Mikah and Melissa are quick and that’s about it.
“We’ve been working a little on a 1-3-1 and we’ll play a lot of 3-2 and 2-3 zones.
“With three freshmen, we actually play (defense) pretty well. Every now and then we get lost on a rotation.”
Garrett plans to use “a little bit of a motion” offense this year. “We don’t have enough ball-handlers for our pick-and-roll offense—you need three.”
But with Hemmings and Clausen slated to split time at point guard the team’s ball-handling is “not too bad,” Garrett said. “Melissa’s getting better—she got a lot of experience (at the point) last year when Taylor got hurt.”
Garrett would like to see Clausen play the point most of the time to free Hemmings for more scoring.
Garrett thinks two of his team’s strongest opponents will be right here in Perry County.
“I think Perry Central is going to be a handful. And Kassidie Hayes (Tell City’s 6-foot center) is going to give us trouble, being so tall.”
As for their Class A sectional, “I’m sure Northeast Dubois is going to be the favorite again,” said Garrett.
But he added, “I honestly believe we can compete for the title. It depends on how the girls react if we get off to a slow start (to the season).
“My main goal is to improve before the sectional gets here.”