Crawfordsville girls basketball coach Tyler Smith has seen this upcoming season coming ever since he took the reigns of the program three seasons ago.
Crawfordsville brings back all five starters, four of whom will be seniors, as the Athenians look to put it all together this year. Olivia Reed, Kearston Hutchens, Shea Williamson and Liddy McCarty are four of the five seniors that will anchor the starting lineup. Sophomore post-player Taylor Abston will round out the starting five. Key bench players are junior Elyse Widmer and senior Laine Schlicher.
“We’ve been seeing things build toward this season and the opportunity we have,” he said. “We do know that we’ll have to work and that nothing will be handed to us. We’ll have to go out and earn every win we can, but the opportunity is there for us and these are the type of moments that you live for. We’re excited to see where we can go.”
Confidence and the belief that they can succeed is something Smith believes the Athenians have as Crawfordsville looks for its first winning season since 2014.
“Their confidence is really high heading into year,” he said. “I think the fact that it is pretty high will bode well for us if we do hit a rough patch. Last season we were really working towards building that confidence after losing a 1,000 point scorer (Lauren Kellerman) and now with this being many of their senior seasons, it is up. They want to play for each other and embrace each moment.”
Along with the play of their seniors, Abston’s role also will be important down low. As a freshman a season ago, she was able to get her feet wet and average five points and three rebounds. Those numbers are expected to see an uptick as her game continues to develop.
“She’s a great compliment to our senior guards,” Smith said. “She’s learning more and more to be in the right spots and we know she’s a very capable scorer. When she is in the right spot at the right time, she makes our offense very difficult to guard.”
One thing to expect from the Crawfordsville offense this season is a steady diet of three-point shot attempts. The Athenians aren’t afraid to let it fire from downtown and if they are hitting from the outside, it could mean a long night for their opponent.
“We spend a ton of time in practice working on layups and threes,” Smith said. “It’s a big part of the game today. The way our offense works and the personnel that we have, we want to get into the paint and then have our shooters ready to go if need be. They’re very capable of knocking down those shots and it goes back to the confidence that they have right now.”
Crawfordsville opens its season Friday at home against Seeger. The Patriots went 15-3 a season ago. In the season opening matchup against Crawfordsville last year, it turned into a defensive battle with the Patriots coming away with a 25-17 win.
“The first game is always the hardest to predict how it will go,” Smith said. “Seeger is always a scrappy, hard-nosed bunch, but we’ve won seven out of the last 10 games we’ve played at home over the past two years so we feel good with it being in our gym. Overall, we have a difficult stretch of games, but besides that we feel like if we come out and play our style of game we can have a good chance in most games.”
Smith also commented on each of his seniors and what they bring to the team.
“Shea does everything for us, and this season we believe she’ll continue to do that, but at an even higher level.
“Olivia had a breakout season last year and she will be relied upon to be a leader on both sides of the ball.
“Kearston gets better each and every year and I believe she’s ready for a breakout year.
“Liddy is one of our best at getting to the rim and the free throw line, and always plays tough, he said.
“Laine and Elyse will provide depth for us and I’m looking forward to seeing more minutes from Addie Hodges and Riley Gardner,” he said.
The matchup against Seeger on Friday begins at 7 p.m. following two quarters of the junior varsity game.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here