While no one is expecting Shelby Mann to break scoring records in basketball after her historic season for the state champion girls soccer team, coach Jane Schott expects a lingering effect from the tournament run.
“She’s a competitor and she’s a champion,” Schott said. “I’ve known that for a long time. Maybe everybody else didn’t because she hadn’t won a championship but I do know that’s how she’s wired. We expect that to carry over.”
Jessica Martin comes in from a volleyball sectional championship squad to assume a starting role after being one of the Red Devils’ top reserves a year ago. She and Mann will be relied upon heavily to score and defend.
A familiar name to West Lafayette athletics takes over the point guard role. Sophomore Maggie Wodicka is a lot like her brothers James and Daniel, Schott said. James Wodicka was a three-sport athlete and class valedictorian, while Daniel was Indiana’s Mr. Football after quarterbacking West Lafayette to a Class 3A state championship.
“She’s wired just like them,” Schott said. “She’s extremely intelligent, she’s heady, she’s very stable. We’re blessed to have her to go along with Shelby and Jessica. I think that makes our backcourt pretty strong.”
Schott is expecting big things from Lorelei Turner, a returning starter and the Red Devils’ only experienced post player.
“She’s ready to explode on to the scene,” Schott said. “Last year she was in a little bit of a reserve role even though she was a starter because of the people she was surrounded by, a lot of veterans and scorers. Now we’re really going to rely on her to be an inside-outside attacker for us.
“She had a terrific summer, hardest worker in terms of how much time she spent in the gym this offseason. We’re really excited for her.”
At 5-foot-5, Taylor Martin — Jessica’s twin sister — will be a starting forward.
“We smile when we say ‘other post player,’ ” Schott said in reference to Taylor Martin. “We’re kind of like the Purdue women; we’re playing four guards and a post.
“Taylor has embraced that. She’s tough. She can guard somebody bigger if she has to. She can rebound, so we feel comfortable with a little bit smaller lineup.”
Junior Megan Crawford is battling a sprained ankle but will help the Red Devils inside. Classmate Kasey Touloukian will see playing time because of her ability to do whatever the Red Devils need.
Sophomores Julia Bittner and Abby Martin, plus freshmen Kaia Harris and Madi Jacobs also figure into the Red Devils’ plans.
“Julia Bittner can defend, can score and she’s long,” Schott said. “She just needs experience. I’ve been really excited about Abby Martin and Madi Jacobs to give us a little bit of a boost in the guard spot.”
Schott could barely contain her enthusiasm when discussing Harris.
“She’s long and lanky and got a lot to learn, but I love her energy,” Schott said. “She gets on the floor and things happen.”
Mann sees similarities with her state championship soccer team.
“We have a good senior class,” Mann said. “Soccer really helped me realize it’s not about the talent, it’s more about the camaraderie.”
Schott hopes the Red Devils find their identity after graduation took starters Grace Palmieri, Anna Searle and Kayla Jones.
“With each and every game it’s not about the wins and losses, especially early on,” Schott said. “It’s going to be about improving every minute, every day, every practice, every game and letting our kids grow as basketball players and as people. The winning will take care of itself.”
— Ken Thompsonemail@example.com