Raiders hold on to evade drought with victoryDecember 11, 2017
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
HUNTINGBURG — For a span of about four minutes in the third quarter of Saturday’s girls’ basketball battle between Borden and Southridge, it appeared the Mannequin Challenge had become popular once again.
After a Borden turnover, Southridge’s Mady Neukam grabbed the ball and was looking to run down some clock and be patient as her team was up by nine points.
While Neukam expected the Braves defense to start pressing and trapping after about 15 seconds or so, they never did.
“I didn’t really expect them to just stay back that long,” said Neukam who led the Raiders with 13 points in the 31-18 win at Huntingburg on Saturday. “We definitely used that to defend in a way because there were times today where we didn’t defend to the best of our ability.”
Immediately after the long possession however, it was the Braves that scored — not the Raiders.
Luckily for Southridge (2-10), it didn’t end up hurting them as they were able to hold off a late Borden rally for their second win of the season and end their 10-game losing streak.
The Raiders have had to deal with a lot of adversity this season whether it’s been playing with a very young roster or having senior Tori Tretter yet to play this year due to injury.
“We’ve been playing games and just kind of wondering, when are we going to stop doing this? When are we going to get a win?” Neukam said. “It’s reassurance that we can pull one out.”
Raider coach Steve Rust felt that his team was much more aggressive Saturday than they have been in most games this season.
Southridge was able to efficiently handle the 2-3 zone defense that Borden (1-10) played during most of the game in order to take away the easy shots.
“A majority of teams play that defense against us because they know we just don’t have the shooters in a lot of cases but we executed that offense a lot better today than we usually do,” Rust said.
One of the shooters that the Raiders have relied on heavily this season is Neukam, a junior guard who has led Southridge in scoring every single game this season including scoring 27 against Boonville.
Neukam knocked down three three-pointers in the win on Saturday to finish with a total of 13 points. And while she feels her shot has improved, she’s also started to realize when she’s off and when she’s on — and how to change her gameplan from there.
“I didn’t really think I shot the ball well from three today, it wasn’t necessarily terrible but I guess it just differentiates from game to game,” Neukam said. “If you’re having a bad night, you have to go to the basket and I have to keep working on it but it’s a nice weapon to have once in awhile when you’re on.”
The Raiders have primarily used underclassmen during their varsity games this year with a pair of freshmen, Kennedy Nalley and Monica Steckler, already starting for Southridge in a plethora of games. Steckler finished with six points while Nalley added in Saturday’s victory.
The lone starting senior is Breanna Wilkey, who converted from a wing player to a post player this season due to Tretter’s injury.
The transition has been an interesting one to say the least for Wilkey this season.
“I’ve been a guard my whole career so just dealing with the change and being positive has been the biggest thing for me this season,” said Wilkey, who finished with three points in the win. “We’ve had a lot of negativity this season whenever you lose as many games as we’ve lost so we’ve done our best to stay positive as a team.”
Wilkey is one of just three seniors on the Raiders varsity roster so it’s natural that she’s taken a role as one of the team’s leading voices — even if she’s not the most outspoken member on the team.
“She’s a little bit shy but she’s really starting to bring leadership to this team,” Rust said. “I see this each and every game whether it be with her playing in the post or just in general.”
The Raiders played in their third and final Saturday game of the season after losing the previous two to Paoli and Jasper.
Saturday games are a little tougher in terms of both the early morning workouts before the noon start times as well as dealing with smaller crowds and having the players creating more energy themselves.
“I think everyone showed up today because we had to come workout at like 7 a.m. so we were a little tired but once we all got going then everyone was fine,” Neukam said. “Saturday crowds don’t help but we made our own energy and took care of business.”
The Raiders have a tough schedule ahead of them with a battle with PAC rival Heritage Hills (8-1) on Tuesday and then a trip to Crawford County (6-3) on Friday. The Raiders are hoping the confidence they’ve received from the win on Saturday continues to roll through this week.
“It boosted our confidence a lot and hopefully we can still get better as we go along,” Wilkey said. “I think that this game showed that we can continue to win as long as we push through and just keep going.”
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