Patience paying off for Southridge’s Kappner

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Southridge's Anna Kappner had more time playing junior varsity than varsity her first three years of high school, but that's changed this year.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Getting more time on junior varsity than in varsity and having losing records is something Anna Kappner had to deal with her first three years of high school.
However, things are different for Kappner’s senior year. She’s one of three captains the Raiders have, and has had increased minutes at the varsity level this season. Kappner and her teammates have already equaled Southridge’s win total from last season, and can eclipse that today if the Raiders can improve to 8-6 with a win at Evansville Central.

“We’ve worked so hard through the years and it felt like we were just getting beaten down every single day,” Kappner said. “Now, it’s nice to finally put some wins on our name and be respected a little bit more.”

The Raiders went a combined 18-47 through Kappner’s first three years of high school. It was hard, but Kappner and her teammates never stopped working. She learned how to build as a person and as a team through defeat.

Kappner dressed for varsity all four years, but didn’t see playing mostly junior varsity as a negative. She saw herself as having a lot of control as a point guard. Junior varsity served as a big place of leadership for her. Increased varsity time been a transition for Kappner, who plays all over the floor now. She might play in the post, the guard position or at forward.

Getting more varsity minutes for a more competitive Southridge squad has been worth the wait for her. Kappner has reaped the rewards of basketball, but has dealt with the trials and tribulations with her best friend on the team, fellow senior Grace Sickbert. Kappner and Sickbert stuck with basketball, pushing each other not to quit at different points through their high school careers.

“Grace and I have been each other’s sounding boards all four years,” she said. “Some years, I’m the one like, ‘Come on. You can’t quit. Come on.’ Sometimes it’s her, like, ‘Come on. Stick with it.’”

However, unlike Kappner, Sickbert doesn’t have the luxury of playing her senior year, making Kappner the lone senior to play for the Raiders this year. An injury has sidelined Sickbert from competing for a Southridge girls program that is trying to resurrect itself. Kappner thought back to opening night on Nov. 5 when the Raiders traveled to Perry Central. Sickbert made eye contact with Kappner across the gym prior to the Raiders running out for warm ups. She told Kappner it was her last first game and to make it count, with Sickbert adding that she didn’t know when it was going to be her final first game.

The moment was emotional for both of them.

‘Alright, it’s my turn to step up,’” Kappner thought. ‘“This is the last time I’m going to play against these girls that I’ve been playing against since sixth grade and this is the last time that I’m going to get to prove myself.’ So, it motivates me more to work harder.”

Anna Kappner

It’s that work ethic, wanting to play, wanting to be good, that earned her that playing time with Raiders coach Greg Werner. Werner lauded Kappner’s leadership and not being afraid to coach other players. Kappner still might not always get a ton of minutes in a given game, but Werner appreciates her character.

“A kid that can accept a role, being a senior, and make sacrifices, is a captain in my book because she’s an unselfish player,” Werner said. “She’ll do anything for what’s best for the team, and that’s a player that has the proper attitude and that’s a good teammate, and what we want out of all them is to be good teammates.”

Werner said trust is another thing that has led to Kappner getting more time on the court this year. He praised her for being a smart player and understanding what he wants out of her. Werner said Kappner has improved from all of her mistakes in games that she’s been asked to improve on, and that she can compete with the other team.

Kappner is multi-dimensional who can play the post on offense and a guard on defense. The Raiders look to be aware of how to utilize Kappner, who is 5 feet, 3 inches tall. She may sometimes find herself in the post against a player who is the size of one of her coaches. It can frustrate her when she’s doing everything right, but the player she’s guarding is shooting over her. However, Kappner looks to buckle down and keep going.

“I’m going to be as strong as I can be and I’m going to play as big as I can and I’m going to try to get her out of the post,” she said.

Werner said he’ll never match Kappner up against someone where she’s significantly outsized. He said Kappner will always face somebody she can handle, be it in the post or outside, which he feels about all of his players. Werner said Evansville Central will play four guards, sometimes five guards, and not a lot of post players. He thinks Kappner can guard somebody who is up to 5 feet, 9 inches tall or 5 feet, 10 inches tall and hold her own. Werner said using Kappner in the post on offense may depend what type of offense Southridge runs.

Kappner will only have eight regular season games left after Friday’s game against the Bears. She’ll miss working hard in the gym every day, and the fellowship on the bus rides home, especially after a win. Kappner thinks the Raiders can go as far as they want in the playoffs. She thinks they’re motivated after winning the opening sectional game last year. It’ll take a lot of hard work, and it will depend on who they play and how they play.

She won’t continue her athletic career at the collegiate level, but may play an intramural sport in college. Kappner is set to attend Indiana University to major in biology. She’s open to possibly go to medical school. Kappner is considering becoming a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.

“I feel like my best way to serve other people is in the medical field,” Kappner said.




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