Tri-Central girls basketball coach Jason Bales will build his third Trojan team around the backcourt of 5-foot-5 junior Kenadie Fernung and 5-4 junior Brittany Temple.
Fernung is entering her third season as a starter. Last season, she scored a team-high 15.1 points, dished 2.3 assists per game and made the KT All-Area Team as a third-team pick. Temple averaged 7.8 points and 1.8 assists. The Trojans finished 10-13 overall.
“Kenadie had a really good summer. She along with Brittany look to give us a solid 1-2 punch in the backcourt,” Bales said.
The Trojans will need to lean more on their backcourt following the graduation of 5-8 post Carinne Henderson, who averaged an area-best 11.3 rebounds in addition to 11.6 points and a team-high 2.7 assists. She was an All-Area second-team selection.
“Our lack of size is a big concern,” Bales acknowledged. “Needless to say, rebounding has to be focus point of improvement. We want to play up and down the floor, and that starts with defensive rebounding.”
The Trojans have three returning forwards in 5-7 junior Azia Bowman (3.1 points, 4.5 rebounds), 5-6 senior Cassidy Colbert (2.9 rebounds) and 5-7 junior Brooklyn Temple (3.8 points). An injury limited Brooklyn Temple to just four games last season.
Bales noted 5-6 sophomore guard/forward Olivia Johnson, 5-1 sophomore guard Lily Stogdill and 5-10 sophomore center Meghan Grubb gained varsity experience last season. He said 5-6 freshman forward Gracie Grimes is likely to see a lot of time.
The freshman class also has 5-4 guard Karley Leininger, who is out following a torn ACL over the summer, 5-2 guard Abby Hoback, 5-6 forward Allie Younce and 5-1 guard Megan Conner.
Bales is pleased with what he has seen in practices ahead of Thursday’s season opener at Frankton.
“We have some solid experience back on the floor, and a lot of new faces who are competing hard,” he said. “I have a group of young ladies that play hard and it was evident in our scrimmage. Our players play really hard, which makes up for our very limited size.
“With our returning experience and a solid freshman class, there is a lot of reason for excitement.”
Tri-Central is hoping to improve on last season’s 1-6 showing in the Hoosier Heartland Conference. Five of the six losses came by 11 points or less including a one-point setback to Eastern and a four-point loss to Sheridan.
Bales sees defending champ Clinton Prairie as the team to beat in the conference with Eastern also firmly in the title chase, Clinton Central improved and newcomer Delphi capable of making some noise.
“We can be in that mix, but we have to execute the little things to be successful,” he said.
In the state tournament, Tri-Central will host Class A Sectional 55. It’s a new grouping with Anderson Prep, Cowan, Daleville, Liberty Christian and Wes-Del joining TC for a six-team field.
“Sectional-wise, it is up for grabs,” Bales said. “Daleville and Cowan return some solid players and Anderson Prep has gained a couple move-ins that will much improve them. I certainly feel it is one we can win. The opportunity to host it is a nice bonus, as well.”