Ashton Feldhaus and Larryn Brooks have been the driving force behind Madison Central’s success in recent years.
They’ve earned all-state honors, each has scored more than 1,000 points and both have already signed to play for Division I schools — Feldhaus with Butler and Brooks with Indiana.
But, this season they will be asked to do even more.
“I think they are ready for a great senior season,” Central coach Robbie Cooksey said. “It’s their time. We are going to depend on them for leadership and to get us through the tough times. We are going to look for them to carry us.”
The Lady Indians will certainly need the senior duo to carry the load.
Central graduated four key performers from a team that advanced to the 11th Region title game last season — including two starters. The Lady Indians really only have back four players who got any significant varsity playing time last season.
“There’s a huge hole to fill,” Cooksey said. “We return three starters, but there’s a huge leadership hole. There’s a huge hole all the way around. It’s going to different
for a lot of these kids.”
Feldhaus (6-foot-1, forward), Brooks (point guard) and Heather Hinkle (guard) are back in the lineup from last season and Bailey O’Bryan is expected to take over at the other guard spot.
The Lady Indians will turn to a transfer to jump into the lineup on the interior. Shadae Bosley, a 6-foot-2 junior from Indianapolis, has only been playing basketball for a couple of years, but has already shown plenty of potential.
“We feel like she gives us a scoring dimension inside that we haven’t had in a while,” Cooksey said of Bosley, who is the sister of football/basketball standout Ken-Jah Bosley. “She’s a real good athlete. She can get out on the perimeter and defend.”
After those five starters, the Lady Indians really have no experienced players on the bench.
Central has a big junior class, but they haven’t been asked to play at the varsity level, yet.
“They got very limited minutes,” Cooksey said. “So, depth is huge for us.”
Because of that lack of depth, the Lady Indians may not push the ball as much as they have in recent years and they may not press nearly as often.
Developing those players off the bench will be important and there are several players who could make an impact, including sophomore forward Raevin Cain, junior center Aryn Singer, junior guard Hailey Christian and sophomore guard Emily Fultz.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Cooksey said.
The Lady Indians will once again face a difficult schedule. After opening the season Wednesday at home against North Laurel, Central will hit the road to take on Bryan Station Friday and No. 1 Marion County last weekend.
Madison Southern (11-19)
The Lady Eagles came within a few minutes of picking up the school’s first-ever 11th Region Tournament victory last season.
And after graduating just one player from that squad, the momentum from that hard-fought loss to Woodford County certainly carried over into the offseason.
“We are very excited,” Southern coach Summer Simmons said. “We played several games over the summer and had some success. We had a good summer. We played games at Lincoln County, which was kind of like going to the state tournament because almost everybody there was at the state tournament (last year). That Woodford County game led us into this year. We know what we can do. We just have to make sure we are consistent about it.”
Madison Southern will look to keep that momentum moving forward this year.
The Lady Eagles, however, did suffer a pretty substantial loss when sophomore guard Kristen Hayes recently tore her ACL.
She will miss the entire season.
Still, the rest of the team is back and the expectations are much higher this year.
“Everyone else is back, healthy and ready to go,” Simmons said.
Southern has three starters back from last year — sophomore Samantha Parms, sophomore forward Rachel Ramey and sophomore forward Kelley Freeman. The Lady Eagles also have back three talented post players — freshman Briana Lanham, and seniors Sarah Smith and Hayden Westfall.
Lanham reached double figures in scoring on several occasions last season, but Smith and Westfall will push for playing time as well. Eighth-grader Marley Lawson (a 6-foot, forward) will also be in the mix in the middle.
“I couldn’t tell you which one of those is going to start right now,” Simmons said. “We will be looking at some things this week and we will go from there.”
Parms scored 20-plus points multiple times last season and will take over at point guard this season after the graduation of Jordan Renner.
“I see her making a big impact on our offense this year,” Simmons said of Parms. “She’s running the point and that’s something new for her. We are trying to get her comfortable in being a leader and becoming more of a scorer.”
The Lady Eagles don’t have a very deep bench. After its top seven — Parms, Ramey, Freeman, Lanham, Smith, Westfall and Lawson — Southern only has a couple of experienced reserves.
Junior forward Kelle Scott, sophomore guard Callie Cook and freshman guard Adrianna Willis will be called on to play valuable minutes at times.
“We are just going to have to have some girls step up,” Simmons said. “We are not going to be deep because we are so young. We will just have to keep everyone healthy and work as hard we can.”
The Lady Patriots were set to begin the season as probably one of the youngest teams in the state.
That was before a pair of preseason injuries knocked Model’s only two returning starters out of the lineup.
“We’ve gotten a lot younger in the past two weeks,” Model coach Ronald Preece said.
Madison Keene, a junior suffered a serious knee injury in a scrimmage against West Jessamine and junior guard Darrian Botts sustained an ankle injury last week against Villa Madonna.
Botts is expected back on the court in about a week, but Keene may be out for the entire season.
“She’s doing rehab and she will get an MRI on Wednesday,” Preece said of Keene. “Then, we will see if she has to have surgery.”
Without Keene or Botts in the lineup, Model will open the season with a team that features mostly middle schoolers.
“So, it looks like I’ll be starting a sophomore and four eighth-graders,” Keene said.
Model graduated three players from a team that won 11 games last season, including Tara Hill, who averaged a double-double and finished her career with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
The Lady Patriots are young, but they are not completely inexperienced. Hayley Hunt, a sophomore guard, played quite a bit last season and eighth-graders Mallie Cornett and Kasi Schneid also got varsity playing time last season.
Cornett and Schneid are part of a talented group of younger players who will be asked to make a big-time impact this season. Emily Jackson (center), Abby Vicars and Charity Mack — all eighth-graders — are just coming off a successful season with Model’s middle school team.
“We are young, but I’ve been really impressed with how they’ve worked,” Preece said. “They’ve improved during middle school season. They’ve come on.”
Junior Maci Hensley is expected to provide a veteran presence on a young squad.
The Lady Pirates were hit hard by graduation last year.
They lost three starters — Sophia Shearer, Taylor Winstead and Brooke Coccari — all of which had been big contributors for several seasons.
Then, Berea suffered another loss just recently when senior center Hannah Haycraft left the team.
“That was four days before we started practice,” Berea coach Jerry Bingham said of Haycraft’s departure. “We had gone through the summer with her. We had in mind what we were going to do with her. Then, that totally threw my off. We had to revamp some things.”
Still, despite returning just one starter, Bingham is optimistic heading into this season. The Lady Pirates are young — two eighth-grader will get significant playing time — and don’t have much of a bench, but they have good chemistry and a solid work ethic.
“I feel really good about our team,” Bingham said. “They’ve worked really hard even though we’ve got a mixture or older and younger players.”
Chase Fain is the only returning starter from last season. The junior averaged 6.5 points a game last season and will move to shooting guard this season.
Eighth-grader Jordan Sandefur missed 11 games last season, but still averaged about eight points a game off the bench. She will take over at point guard, while guards Miranda Montgomery (junior) and Ashley Sizemore (the team’s only senior) will also be in the starting lineup.
Sophomore Victoria Sexton will open the season as Berea’s top post player, but she will be pushed by eighth-grader Alex Horn.
“She’s come on really strong,” Bingham said of Horn. “We will probably have to give her quite a bit of time.”
Even with almost an entirely new starting lineup, Bingham believes this year’s team will be better defensively and will probably have fewer turnovers with Fain and Sandefur handling the ball most of the time.
Still, putting the ball in the basket might be difficult, especially early in the season.
“We are going to struggle to score the ball some nights,” Bingham said. “Someone is going to have to step up and be the go-to person eventually.”
The Lady Pirates have 20 players on the varsity roster, but 13 are freshmen or middle schoolers.
Berea will look to get production off the bench from junior forward Emily Keyser, junior guard Holly Musick and junior Taylor Powell.
“It’s just going to take time,” Bingham said. “Realistically, we are about seven deep right now. So, if we can develop some bench play we will be all right.”