Funny thing about the Whiteland girls basketball team. It returns all five starters from last season — and still is exceptionally young.
But it’s also exceptionally experienced.
For that reason, coach Kyle Shipp expects the Warriors to not only have their first winning season since 2011 but contend for county, conference and postseason championships.
“We’ve got a lot of returning players with a lot of varsity experience,” said Shipp, who’s in his fourth season at Whiteland. “So hopefully it’s going to be fun to watch us reap those benefits of them playing as young girls and gelling together as a team and becoming something great.”
Story continues below gallery
Leading the way for the Warriors are returning starters Mackenzie Blazek, Sidney Crowe, Sydney Mize, Kate White and Ashley West.
A first-team all-county selection last season, Blazek is a 6-foot-2 sophomore center who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. She was the only county player to average a double-double.
Mize is a 5-6 senior guard, and White is a 5-9 senior forward. They are the only seniors on the team.
Crowe is a 5-11 junior guard, and West is a 5-9 junior guard. They are two of only four juniors on the team.
The remaining players in what is expected to be an eight-player rotation are first-time varsity players. But Shipp is confident the Warriors have the experience and talent to overcome youth.
“We just want to get better every day,” he said. “We want to get to the point where we feel we can compete for a county championship and a (Mid-State) conference championship and be real competitive come state tournament time.”
With every starter back, the Warriors appear positioned to improve on last year’s 9-15 record — which was a dramatic improvement from the previous year’s 1-20 finish — and be the contenders Shipp envisions.
Other rotation players expected to contribute in that effort are Jessyca Napier, Alyson Grantham and Natalie Stuck. Napier is a 5-9 junior guard. Grantham is a 5-8 junior forward. And Stuck is a 5-9 freshman guard.
Michaela Adams, a 5-9 sophomore forward, and Libby Baker, a 5-9 freshman guard, are also expected to spot minutes on a team that plans to be in the thick of championship hunts.
Whiteland is looking for its first sectional title since 2007.
“Their ceiling is untapped. It’s going to be totally up to how well we execute night in and night out,” Shipp said. “We play a very tough schedule. Multiple games are going to come down to the end, and are we going to be able to out-execute people?
“I’m really excited to see this team compete night in and night out because I feel real confident that this is one of the better teams we’ve had in the last couple of years.”
Nov. 7;Greenfield-Central;7:30 p.m.
Nov. 13;at Franklin Central;7:30 p.m.
Nov. 17;County at Center Grove;TBA
Nov. 25;at Decatur Central;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 1;at Roncalli;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 4;at Plainfield;8 p.m.
Dec. 8;Triton Central;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 12;Martinsville;1:30 p.m.
Dec. 15;at Indian Creek;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 23;Perry Meridian;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 29;Guerin Catholic;3:30 p.m.
Jan. 2;at Southport;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 5;at Center Grove;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8;Greenwood;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11;Jennings County;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 14;at Beech Grove;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 16;New Palestine;1:30 p.m.
Jan. 21;at Shelbyville;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 26;Columbus East;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 29;Mooresville;6 p.m.