Late start, strong finish?

Unlike most girls basketball coaches in Indiana, Greenwood Christian Academy’s Alan Weems wasn’t able to start preseason practices last Monday.

Not with five of his players still involved with volleyball, two taking mission trips, another competing in the cross-country postseason and two spending the school’s fall break out of town.

Weems, now in his fifth season at Greenfield Christian, isn’t deterred.

“Our job is to support our kids. You root for them as much as you can and not worry about the fact that you’re behind,” said Weems, whose program experienced a similar situation last season but rebounded to finish with a 15-10 record.

“Being at GCA, there are tradeoffs. I have a team that’s going to have a team GPA of around 3.8. These kids pick things up pretty quickly,” he said.

Traditionally a man-to-man defensive team under Weems, the coach plans to incorporate any number of zone looks during this season, which begins Nov. 7 at Monrovia.

“We played man-to-man defense at the beginning of last season, and our kids weren’t ready for it,” Weems said.

The Cougars won only two of their first seven games a year ago, then rebounded with a five-game winning streak. Greenwood Christian’s season came to a close with a 42-38 loss to county rival Edinburgh in a semifinal of the Morristown Sectional.

Weems will see how the Cougars’ season starts out before determining when to shift back to man-to-man defense.

If he does at all.

“You gauge it based on the players’ progress,” he said. “Man-to-man defense is a mental exercise. We want to be a tough-minded team, but that’s not going to happen the first few days. You have to work into it.

“We may find out we’re a really good zone team and work man-to-man defense into that.”

Weems, who hopes to have his first practice after school today, is confident the talent is there for the Cougars to piece together a third consecutive winning season.

Once everyone is finally on the court together, Greenwood Christian will lean on 6-foot junior post Sarah Mangan to shoulder much of what the Cougars do inside. Senior guard Katie Cruse is also an established presence, as are a pair of Graces — Peters and Apgar, both 5-6 juniors.

This quartet was responsible for 66 percent of Greenwood Christian Academy’s point production last season.

“We feel this nucleus is going to be very, very solid,” Weems said.

This season’s schedule includes a first-ever meeting with Decatur Central, a Class 4A program. The game will be played at Greenwood Christian Academy on Nov. 12.

One out-of-state opponent also is on the schedule — Tri-County Area High School from Howard City, Michigan, visits the Cougars on Dec. 29.

2016-17 schedule

Date;Opponent;Time

Nov. 7;at Monrovia;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 10;Arlington;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 12;Decatur Central;7 p.m.

Nov. 19;at Morristown;11:30 a.m.

Nov. 26;Waldron;1:30 p.m.

Nov. 29;Speedway;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 2;Eminence;6:30 p.m.

Dec. 5;at Bethesda Christian;7 p.m.

Dec. 6;Indiana Deaf;6 p.m.

Dec. 8;at Edinburgh;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 29;Tri-County Area;7 p.m.

Jan. 2;at Shortridge, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 3;at Lutheran,7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6;at Crispus Attucks, 6 p.m.

Jan. 10;International;6:15 p.m.

Jan. 12;at Irvington Prep Academy;6:30 p.m.

Jan. 14;Pioneer Conference playoffs

Jan. 19-21;Central Christian Tournament

Jan. 24;University,7:30 p.m.

Jan. 26;at Southwestern,7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27;Central Christian, 6:30 p.m.

Scouting the Cougars

Coach: Alan Weems

Last year: 15-10; lost to Edinburgh in Morristown Sectional semifinal

Who’s back: Katie Cruse, Sarah Mangan, Anna Subris, Grace Peters, Grace Apgar, Allie Dalton, Kaeley Cunningham

Who’s gone: Brianna Lawrence, Hannah Peters

New kids on the block: Alexis Mead, Morgan Haynes

Outlook: The return of leading scorer and rebounder Mangan, a 6-foot junior forward/center who averaged a double-double (13.1 ppg, 13 rpg), gives Weems a quality building block. Cruse, a 5-6 senior guard, is back after averaging 6.1 points and a team-high 3.7 assists. Look for junior guards Peters and Apgar to also play a bigger role.

Weems says: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Mangan (averaged) 18 (points) and 14 (rebounds), and for Cruse to average double figures scoring. The freshmen we have this season are going to do a good job of adding to our depth. This team will be a more consistent scoring team and handle the ball better. And like last year, we’re going to be in every game.”

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.