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LEOPOLD—Perry Central’s girls basketball team made it to the championship game of their Class 2A sectional with no seniors last year. So obviously winning the sectional is a legitimate goal this year.
Though the Commodores again will have no one taller than 5-foot-7 in their starting lineup, “we’re pretty quick,” said Coach Bill Dickerson. “We should be just as quick as 90 percent of the teams we’ll face. Heritage Hills is probably a little quicker than us, and Crawford County is close.
“Hopefully we’re a little more mature (than last year). And we’ve been playing pretty good defense—we contested every shot in Saturday’s (preseason) jamboree.”
Dickerson expects to start the same lineup as last year—5-foot-7 Deidra Dickerson at forward, 5-7 Katie Schwartz in the low post, and Rachael Rayford, Hilarie Hahus and Lavina Schwartz on the perimeter.
Tessa Lynch will again be the first player off the bench. “She has really improved a lot—she’ll probably play as much as most of the starters,” said Dickerson.
Amy Schwartz will again be the second reserve.
Joining the rotation will be sophomore Lindsey Gengelbach, who “besides Rachael is probably as quick as anybody we’ve got,” said Dickerson.
Ashley Graves, a 6-foot freshman, could give the team more size.
“She’ll probably play quite a bit of varsity before the year’s over,” said Dickerson. “She’s only played two full years of basketball so she has a lot to learn, but she’s 6 feet tall and she runs up and down the floor pretty well.”
With the team’s overall quickness and increased depth, Dickerson expects to “press a little more” this year. “I don’t think we’re going to go out and do it all the time, though.”
Man-to-man will still be the Commodores’ main half-court defense and it has looked good in preseason, said Dickerson. “As far as positioning and aggressiveness, that’s been phenomenal.”
He also said the team’s ball-handling has looked “pretty good. I think it’s going to be OK. The trap didn’t really bother us last year until the sectional (in the finals against North Posey).”
Lavina Schwartz will again be the team’s main ball-handler, but the Commodores have several options there. “Deidra will come out and handle it some and Tessa will handle it some,” said Dickerson.
Rebounding is also pretty good, considering the team’s lack of height.
“On the defensive boards we block out pretty well,” said Dickerson. “And on offensive rebounding we’re pretty aggressive.”
Dickerson said he’s “optimistic” that the team’s shooting will improve. “Last year we barely shot 30 percent from the field.
“Hilarie no doubt is our best shooter. And Lavina, Tessa and Deidra have been shooting pretty well in practice.”
Hahus hit 35.1 percent from three-point range and 72.4 percent of her free throws last year. She and Rayford each averaged 9.3 points per game last year and Dickerson averaged 9.0.
Bill Dickerson expects “Katie and Deidra to be our main low-post threats. And hopefully Ashley before the season’s over.
“Rachael’s our best at putting it on the floor. We’re going to use her inside a little bit.”
The Commodores finished fifth in the seven-team PLAC at 2-4 last year but Dickerson thinks “we can compete for the title this year. We’ll have to win some on the road early, though (they visit Crawford County, Paoli and Springs Valley).
“I think it’ll be more even than last year. Mitchell will be good again, and I think Paoli and Springs Valley will be better (than last year).”
As for the sectional, Dickerson said the keys to winning it “are the same things we’ve been working on all year—handling the ball and handling the pressure.”