In Keisling’s first season, the Panthers made it to the semistate with four of the current seniors playing major roles. Now they’re back in their last go-around.
“I remember winning regionals for the first time in Western’s school history and what that felt like,” Caitlyn O’Neal said. “When it’s your first time you’re scared, you don’t know what to expect. Now that I’m a senior, I know what to expect. I know what the crowd’s going to be. That’s how I was when I was a sophomore, I was scared. I’m not scared anymore. I’m ready to take care of business.”
There’s a sense of urgency as seniors.
“This is our senior year,” Black said. “This is all we have left so it’s either keep playing or go home. I think now we’re all to the point where we have nothing left to lose. We get nervous, we get jitters, but we know to go out there and trust your teammates and you can get it done.”
Norwell enters with a 21-4 record.
“Norwell’s going to be a very quality opponent,” Keisling said. “They’re quick, they’ve got good shooters, they’ve been successful in a very rugged Fort Wayne-area schedule.
“They’re on the younger side, they have some freshmen and sophomores in the mix. They, like us, have balance. From that standpoint they’re a challenge defensively. They’re a man-to-man team. You’re going to have to execute offensively.”
Containing Norwell’s strengths are high priorities for Keisling.
“We need to limit them to one shot,” he said. “We need to make sure we find them in the defense and get to their shooters and get to their driving situations. Offensively we have to make sure we execute effectively to make sure we have good shot selection and value the possessions.”