Raiders look to rebound after injury-riddled campaign

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Southridge senior center Abigail Kerkhoff looks to pass the ball during a drill in recent practice. The Raiders will scrimmage Springs Valley at noon today in French Lick.


HUNTINGBURG — Hope springs anew for Greg Werner and the Southridge girls basketball team. Last season, the Raiders endured five knee injuries during a year unlike any Werner had previously witnessed in his coaching career.

This time around, Southridge takes the floor with a veteran group in tow.

“The experienced kids will have the talent to be in a situation where we could have a very positive and good year,” Werner said. “It all comes down to being healthy. If we knew that all of our players were healthy and could go, we could be a top team in the state — especially in 2A. If we have to plug and play and have the next woman in, it’s going to hit us a little bit.”

A trio of seniors will play key roles for the Raiders. Guard Kennedy Nalley, forward Rose Tempel and center Abigail Kerkhoff offer veteran leadership.

Junior guards Ella Mattingly, Kylie Evans and Myah Montgomery bring additional experience to the backcourt. Fellow junior Mikah Goeppener, a forward, rounds out the talented junior class.

One freshman (Maddux Marshall) and six sophomores (Natilee Wahl, Marie Tempel, Bailey Keusch, Ara Wagner, Lilly McMickle and Mollie Birchler) will also suit up for the Raiders.

“Through the fall workouts, we didn’t try to focus on anything going on outside of basketball,” Nalley said. “We tried to look forward to the season and be positive going into it. I’m really hoping that we get to come out here and represent our school with a lot of wins, good attitudes and everything like that. It’s awesome to be able to be a Raider and play for our school.”

Werner lauded the Southridge basketball feeder programs for their contributions to the culture. The Raiders allow young players to play on the Memorial Gym court during halftime of the junior varsity and varsity games.

“At an early age, they have kids to look up to,” Werner said. “When they finally get here, I think they understand what it means from the tradition that they have from being here when they were younger.”

While growing up in Huntingburg, Nalley became one of those youthful dreamers who aspire to play inside Memorial Gym’s hallowed walls. Now, the senior yearns to set a positive example for her teammates and the community.

“It’s just cool to know that there’s younger kids out there watching us and thinking how cool it is,” Nalley said. “I remember when I came here and watched the other girls play, I thought it was super-cool.”

As official practices commenced, Werner underscored the importance of good health.

“If we stay healthy, we’re extremely deep,” he said. “If we’re not healthy, we will still have plenty there. We just may not be as deep early on until some of those kids develop.”

The Raiders’ campaign will begin by scrimmaging Springs Valley at noon today in French Lick.

“I believe in the kids we have,” Werner said. “I believe in what we will develop. I believe that our kids will do the same. I do think that they can be successful. It’s a work in progress. It’s a process that we have to go through to get all the kids on the same page.”

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