Borden has a tough act to follow … its own.
The Lady Braves won their sectional for the second consecutive time last season, then made some noise in the regionals, beating undefeated Barr-Reeve 29-28 before falling to Northeast Dubois in the Elite Eight of Class A, 35-31.
Borden lost three three-year starters off that 18-7 team.
Terry Rademacher, now in his 15th season of coaching, says his Lady Braves will miss the departing players, but not as much as one might think.
“We lost a lot of scoring and rebounding with them,” he said. “But we’ve had seasons where we lost more than this, where we didn’t have anybody back that had played or scored a whole lot.
“The players that we have coming back this year are pretty good. They just had to play behind some really good players, some of whom were among the best players we’ve ever had here at Borden. These returning players may not have the numbers, but I think people will be surprised at how good they actually are. We have an awful lot of experience coming back in our top four, and a lot of talent.”
Two of those players are returning starters. Forward Carson Casey, a 5-9 junior, averaged six points and four rebounds a game, making her the leader in both categories among returning players. Guard Shelby Kirchgessner, a 5-6 junior, averaged 5.5 points and 2.6 assists. The other two came off the bench last season: 5-8 senior forward Leslie Beatty (2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds) and 5-9 junior guard Abbey Ellis (4.4 points and 1.3 assists).
“Those four give us a pretty good nucleus,” said Rademacher. “They will lead the way. They all need to be able to do various things so that we don’t put too much pressure on any one player.”
Unless that player is an opponent dribbling the ball. Borden will rely on pressure defense a lot this season.
“We’re not real big,” Rademacher said. “Rebounding will be a challenge and we’ll have to make up for it in other areas. We’re always pretty intelligent. We play smart basketball. We should be pretty quick defensively. We’ll pass the ball pretty well.”
Rademacher says his Lady Braves will have seven players in the mix, with 5-3 junior Sarah Hurst, 5-3 sophomore Kristen Nestor and 5-7 freshman Natalie Ruedinger competing for that fifth starting spot.
The Lady Braves got off to a good start, smothering Crothersville 78-29 Tuesday. While it looks like Borden could be a serious threat once again this season, Rademacher wanted no part of predicting how far this team can go.
“I don’t get into making those kind of predictions,” he said. “Our definition of success is based on whether we play hard, whether we improve, and whether we are good teammates for each other. There are just too many variables to measure yourself by wins and losses.
“You want to win every game that you play, and we play the same schools roughly every year, but every school has ups and downs in their talent flow and we don’t have any control over that. We expect to go out and play hard and get better and to be competitive in the sectional and in the conference, but throwing out a prediction on who’s going to win it or not going to win it, that’s beyond me.”