Success has been hard to come by for the Indy girls basketball program. Infused with a talented crop of freshmen that helped the middle school win the Raleigh County championship last season, head coach Mark Cuthbert is hoping a turnaround is on the horizon.
“The middle school program won and we have five freshmen that came up,” Cuthbert said. “During the offseason all 14 of the girls on the team came and worked during the three weeks so they’ve shown a lot of promise and dedication.”
The Patriots will need immediate contributions from their younger players. Their leading scorer, Alyssa Daniel, graduated but they still have a crop of returning players such as Hailey Ratliff, Bella Green and Maddy Nelson. Newcomers include Kamryn Wooten, Zoey Bragg and Mackenzie Cradle.
“She was a great player for us and I wish we had her longer,” Cuthbert said of Daniel. “We have two retuning seniors in Makaila Bolen and Jenna Harvey who we look to set into bigger roles this year. Ali Hypes is a junior who’s played a lot of varsity minutes and Lilly Jackson is coming out for the first time and she was a really solid middle school player. We look for her to help us in scoring. There’s also a freshman named Harmony Mills who’s going to be an all-around player and she’s going to have to step into a bigger role than we would like as a freshman but it is what it is.”
Building a program takes time and requires being measured in your goals. You never want to be too over the top or place expectations and pressure on a team that needs to grow. Cuthbert understands that and has a clear goal established for his squad.
“We just want to be able to compete every night,” Cuthbert said. “I think if we can compete that’s moving in the right direction. We play in a tough section and as long as we compete I think we can win a lot of games with what we put on the floor.”
Working in Indy’s favor is the state of the section and region. PikeView graduated a pair of all-staters, Shady graduated all-stater Kierra Richmond and Westside is attempting to rebuild its program as well. It presents an opportunity for the Patriots to build confidence and emerge from a period of uncertainty.
“We hope so,” Cuthbert said. “Adding Midland Trail in the section is going to be tough because John Mark (Kincaid) is a good coach. “PikeView is well-coached too. Even though they lost some key players they have some young kids to fill in and they’re used to winning basketball games. We have to get at that level at Independence and I think with this team we can establish something moving forward.”
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