Madison Central coach Brad Lovely knows he doesn’t have anyone on his roster who can step in and replace Jekauri McKeithen and Taleya Todd.
That duo scored nearly 43 percent of the team’s points and pulled down almost half of the total rebounds last season while leading the Lady Indians to a 44th District Tournament championship.
They both graduated with more than 1,000 career points.
Replacing that kind of extremely consistent production will have to be a group effort.
“We are just trying to find pieces to replace points and rebounds,” Lovely said.
The Lady Indians may not have McKeithen or Todd, but they have plenty of players with varsity experience. Central returns four seniors and a stockpile of underclassmen, some of which have already been tested against 11th Region competition.
“We’ve got to bring those young kids along and try to find some consistency and a group of kids who can score,” Lovely said.
Senior guard Brianna Bierbaum averaged 6.5 points a game last season — third-most on the team — and hit a team-best 49 three-pointers.
Eve Carter took over the starting point guard spot last season as a freshman. She finished as Central’s second-leading rebounder (5.0 rpg) and fourth-leading scorer (4.1 ppg).
“She a good ball-handler who doesn’t turn the ball over and she can defend,” Lovely said of Carter. "She’s going to cause a lot of problems for teams.”
Seniors Gretchen Hammit, Raelynn Miller saw lots of action last season along with eighth-graders Nataya Strader and Brittany Campbell.
Hammitt was one of only two players to appear in all 31 games last season (McKeithen). She averaged 2.9 points and 3.6 rebounds — third-best on the team.
Miller played in 29 games and pulled down 2.4 rebounds a game.
Strader and Campbell appeared in almost every varsity game last season as well.
Senior Alex Dewey returns after missing last season with a foot injury.
“We’ve got some experience returning, but those kids were always role players,” Lovely said. “So, now we are trying to find out who is going to be the step-up-and-make-a-play kid.”
Central also had several additions to the roster, including freshmen Bailey and Shelby Hensley along with sophomore Pressley Lochmeller (Model Labotaory ransfer).
Bailey is 5-foot-10 and could jump right into the rotation.
“She will make a big difference,” Lovely said of Hensley.
Without Todd or McKeithen, the Lady Indians don’t have much size. So, the team has transitioned to a fast-pace, up-tempo style.
“We started this summer implementing an offense and defense geared more toward what we’ve got,” Lovely said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids who are athletic.”
Central upset Madison Southern in the opening round of the 44th District Tournament last season then beat Berea in the title game.
The Lady Indians might not be considered the favorite this season, either, but Lovely believes his team has the pieces to make another run at a championship.
“We are making strides,” Lovely said. “I think we are going to surprise some teams.”