With five returning letter winners and the addition of a transfer player who is expected to make an immediate impact, first-year coach Kyle Shipp is confident the Whiteland girls baskeball team will improve on last year’s 6-16 record.
Leading the way are returning senior starters Kaitlyn Phillips, Chelsea Perry and Michaela Harris. The Warriors will look to them for production at both ends of the court.
“We call them ‘The Big Three,’ and honestly, we’re going to rely heavily on them, offensively and defensively, to carry the team,” Shipp said. “I have high hopes and high expectations for them, and to this point, they’ve done a great job as leaders.
“But if those three struggle, we might struggle at times.”
Phillips, a point guard, averaged 10 points and three assists per game last season.
At 5-foot-8, Perry, who averaged nine points per contest as a junior, will play the role of a big guard/wing player.
“We’re going to ask Perry to rebound more this year,” Shipp said. “She’s an all-around player and very versatile. If we need her to bring the ball up the court, she can do it.
“She can guard pretty much anybody on the floor.”
The Warriors also have high expectations for Harris, a versatile player who averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game last season.
Also returning for the Warriors are senior letter winners Jordyn Francis and Annie Polley, who are expected to join the starting lineup.
Francis is a 5-3 guard. Polley, at 5-7, can play both forward positions.
“Those five returning seniors have played together for a long time,” Shipp said. “I hope their chemistry continues to grow and develop. We’re very excited about that first group.”
Shipp also is enthused about newcomer Delilah Larson, a transfer student from Indianapolis Manual. He expects her to play a prominent role off the bench.
“She’s a hard worker and is going to be a very nice addition to this team,” Shipp said. “She is a banger, sets good screens and can be counted on to rebound. Delilah is somebody who is willing to do the dirty work.
“She’s strong and very physical and can also put the ball in the basket when she has an opportunity to do so.”
A former three-sport athlete at Whiteland, Shipp is optimistic the Warriors will improve on last year’s record but doesn’t promise instant results.
Players are adjusting to a new system for the third time in as many years, and getting everyone on the same page will take time.
“Every team has to work toward identity through hard work and practice while preparing for games. We’re not very deep at the varsity level, but I think we have a solid group to build around,” Shipp said. “I’m the third coach in three years for these senior girls, but I’m really happy with the way they’ve accepted us. They’ve been more than willing to change the one or two things we’ve asked them to change.
“These seniors have been great leaders and great role models. I want whatever we achieve this season to be about them.”