Five Seniors Return For Wawasee GBB

SYRACUSE — Wawasee experienced its share of interruptions during the 2020-21 girls basketball season.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Warriors had the first five games on their scheduled wiped out. After the scrimmage, they had to wait weeks to play their Nov. 3 opener.

There were two other gaps of two weeks or more (16 days between Games 4 and 5 and 14 between Games 6 and 7).

“We were never in basketball shape,” says sixth-year Wawasee coach Matt Carpenter. “We never felt like we were able to get a rhythm last year.”

Not by design, but the Warriors did have to see what it was like to adapt as they finished 6-11 overall and 3-4 in the Northern Lakes Conference.

“We had to learn, adjust and be flexible — not only in planning but in personnel,” says Carpenter (41-68 in five seasons). “What happens if we have two bigs on the floor at the same time or no big? What happens when we don’t have our primary point guard?”

What will Wawasee be like in 2021-22?

“I’d like to an identity of experience,” says Carpenter, who takes his squad into a season opener Wednesday, Nov. 3 at Manchester. “We’ve got five seniors (Jada Carter, Lindsay Doss, Emily Haines, Becca Smith and Kennedy White) coming back and we should physically and mentally tougher.”

Doss, Haines, Smith and White appeared in all 17 games in 2020-21 and Carter was in 16.

During a campaign where the Warriors tallied 36.8 points per game, White (7.5) led all scorers. Haines (6.4) was second, Smith (6.2) third, Carter (5.6) fifth and Doss (3.5) sixth. Danielle Jenkins (5.9) graduated. Haines (13) and Carter (10) paced Wawasee in 3-pointers.

White (6.3) led the way in rebounding, followed by Smith (5.6) and Haines (4.8).

Varsity newcomers include sophomores Abbi Burelison and Kaydence Shepherd and freshmen Mackenzie Hackleman, Olivia Horn and Lucy Wilkinson.

As the Warriors headed into their 11th preseason practice, they had all players present just once because of quarantine, sickness or other school activities.

“We’re glad to have a season,” says Carpenter. “We’re glad we’re there in-person with our kids (for classes).

“Our roster could be a little fluid this season. We’ve got a big freshmen group. There could be competition for spots.”

Carpenter expects offensive balance to be a plus.

“Our five seniors can all score five to 12 points a game,” says Carpenter. “Sometime it’ll be match-ups. Sometimes it’ll be who’s shooting well. We’ll ride the hot hand.

“We want to push the ball in transition, but we want to make sure we get a high-percentage shot. We’re looking for a good shot as quick as we can get it.”

Like last season when they had to be ready for differing roles based on available players, Carpenter wants his girls to be able to make in-game tweaks on the fly and demonstrate Basketball I.Q.

“They need to be able to adjust on the floor rather than get direction from me all the time,” says Carpenter. “I think this group will be good at that.”

Carpenter would like to see the team offensive average go up while Wawasee (which gave up 42.2 points per game in 2020-21) plays sound defense.

“Our bread and better is our half-court man-to-man,” says Carpenter. “We want to pressure the basketball. We’ll trap a little bit and use our size and strength to our advantage.

“We want to have help-side (coverage) and keep (the ball) out of the paint.”

The Warriors are to open NLC play Nov. 19 at Concord. Besides Manchester, non-conference games before that features Fairfield (14-9 and sectional champions in 2020-21) and Lakeland (21-8 and sectional champs).

“(The Northeast Corner) Conference has improved a ton in the past few years,” says Carpenter. “We’ll see a variety of styles in the first four or five games.”


No Name Yr Ht

4 Lucy Wilkinson Fr 5-2

10 Kennedy White Sr 5-9

12 Kaydence Shepherd So 5-3

20 Mackenzie Hackleman Fr 5-7

22 Jada Carter Sr 5-9

23 Abbi Burelison So 5-11

30 Olivia Horn Fr 5-8

32 Becca Smith Sr 5-11

34 Emily Haines Sr 5-8

40 Lindsay Doss Sr 5-11

Head coach: Matt Carpenter.

Assistants: Dina Coverstone, Trent Beer, Dino Coverstone.