Randolph Southern has players who believe.
A share of the Mid-Eastern Conference title and a sectional championship in girls basketball in head coach Jerimy Stephan’s first season helped to that end. So does a 10-1 start.
The Rebels suffered their first defeat Thursday at the hands of Tri High by a miniscule 51-50 margin.
The previous 10 wins were no accident.
The Rebels have just been overpowering many opponents.
The Rebels are averaging 55.1 points per game, and allowing 36.2 with their closest margin of victory prior to Thursday’s loss being a seven-point, 45-38 victory over Centerville. They also survived double-overtime to beat Northeastern 61-53 in Game 2.
“I feel very fortunate for the position we’re in,” Stephan said recently. “We’re playing well. We’re doing things right. We’re thankful that everybody’s healthy.”
They share the ball. They shoot it well. They rebound and they force turnovers.
Heading into Thursday’s match-up, Hannah Franklin was averaging 15 points per game, Maddi Kramer had 14.6 and Morgan Acton 12.4.
Franklin is also the leading rebounder with about six a game and dishes almost 10 assists per contest. Kramer is next with more than five assists per game.
“Even though I lost two girls, I had a different approach to it,” Stephan said. “Everybody’s a little more polished; we can get the tempo up; we’re getting those easy buckets. We’re not a team that shoots a lot of 3s but we get a high percentage of 2-pointers.
” … I think tempo is a nice thing for us and I think the girls are just playing the way they need to play. It goes from the No. 1 player to that No. 10 player, they all go out knowing what their role is and, if someone in front of them is struggling, they know to pick each other up.”
Their only MEC blemish a year ago was a 53-46 loss at Wapahani and the Rebels and Raiders ended up sharing the MEC title with 7-1 records.
The Rebels already more than avenged that defeat when they took care of Wapahani 58-30 on Dec. 1.
“That was a bit of a statement game for us,” Stephan said. “They accepted the pressure. That was the biggest game that we probably have played so far and they went out and took care of business.”
Southern is 6-0 in MEC play with two games to play against Union (Jan. 10) and Cowan (Jan. 21).
Their next game is Saturday at Southern Wells (8-2) before the Randolph County tournament (Jan. 2-5), where they face Tri-Eastern Conference-leading Winchester (9-0, 5-0) in the first round. The winner of that game sees Union in Round 2.
The Rockets are currently 11-0 and also 5-0 in the MEC. Cowan is 1-9, 0-5 and coming off a 63-29 loss to Union.
“We’re in the driver’s seat in the MEC. We just have to do our job and we can finish it out. We’ve got to get past Union, that’s a sectional team,” Stephan said.
“I honestly think, if we get Union, I think that’s going to be for the MEC championship. … We still have plenty of stuff to work on.”