Southridge boys hope for bounce back seasonNovember 17, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Southridge endured a tough season with a series of injuries and a 9-15 record last year. The Raiders looked like they were going to play in the sectional championship despite last season’s adversity, until one final heartbreaker ensued when Southridge lost to South Spencer, 56-51, after leading, 49-33 at one point.
“I know that these guys are going to be unbelievably motivated, not just from that one game, but just the adversity that we faced last year,” Raiders coach Mark Rohrer said. “I can’t imagine there was many teams around that had as much as we did — that was from injuries, that was from really close losses, that was from a multitude of things, I thought.
“I think these guys are really going to be locked in, and are really going to be motivated every day in practice, hopefully, every game that we get the opportunity hopefully to play this year that we’ll have that same kind of sense of urgency,” Rohrer continued.
Southridge has quite a bit of experience returning this year, starting with star senior Colson Montgomery and going to fellow seniors Sam Sermersheim and Camden Gasser and junior Carter Whitehead. The third-year Raiders coach told that Southridge will lean heavily on its upperclassmen this season.
Rohrer noted that Montgomery is such a dynamic offensive player that he isn’t sure anybody in Southern Indiana gets as much individual attention from opposing defenses as Montgomery does. He added that Southridge saw everything on Montgomery last year — from a box-and-one defense the whole game to double teaming him every time he got the ball.
He thinks any one of the trio of Sermersheim, Gasser and Whitehead could get 15-to-20 points on a given night. Rohrer thought Sermersheim was the team’s most improved player last year compared to where he was as a sophomore, thought Whitehead got better every game before he dealt with an injury and thinks Gasser can get a lot of assists in addition to what he’s capable of as a scorer.
Rohrer sees the four of them being part of the lineup this year, but there are two others who caught his eye last season.
“They played for the JV at the start of the year last year, and as the year was going on with the injuries we had, worked their way into the lineup,” he said. “There were some games that (junior) Kaden Neukam played all 32 minutes of varsity games last year. And I think you’re going to see him and (senior) Kaleb Wibbeler both really take off and step up — not necessarily from a scoring option.
“It’s not like they’re going be getting 10-to-15 points every single night, but I think in terms of a comfort level at the varsity level, a comfort level in terms of…the speed of a game is, because obviously that is much different from a JV game — I see Kaden Neukam and Kaleb Wibbeler giving us some really solid minutes — starting minutes,” Rohrer continued.
Rohrer hailed Neukam and Wibbeler as great defenders, great teammates and great role players. He also thinks senior Leyton Lauderdale will play a big role with his defensive strength, and also likes junior Fernando Hernandez. He sees Hernandez getting more varsity minutes this year — noting how he's offensive savvy and also has capabilities on defense.
He was anxious to see how with what his players would do during quarantine — knowing their conditioning could go either way. Yet, Rohrer thought the likes of Sermersheim, Wibbeler and Neukam appeared to put on 15-to-20 pounds of muscle.
“Honestly, there’s going to be a lot people that say to themselves, the first time they see Colson playing, ‘How did he improve his body whenever it was already at a(n) extremely high level of being a great athlete?’” he said. “He’s probably put on 10-or-15 pounds of muscle as well.”
The Raiders lost Garrett Voegerl to graduation last year, and Rohrer called him the team’s best defensive player for the past two years. He’s looking for somebody to step up and be the team’s defensive stopper, but he doesn’t think anybody is going to be a defensive liability either.
That’s his concern, but he also noted that his players didn’t make enough perimeter shots last year.
“We’ve got to have guys that shoot at a higher percentage than what we did last year from three, and even from the free throw line,” Rohrer said. “We shot — I think it was 63 or 64 percent from the line. We’ve got to have that number be consistently mid-to-high seventies, if not better. We got to have our 3-point percentage — it was about 28 percent last year — it’s got to be in the high thirties this year.”
Rohrer hopes Southridge will pick up the pace on offense, and would like to get as many transition points as possible. He said the Raiders will still primarily be a man-to-man defensive team, but will probably mix their defenses up more than they did in the past.
The Raiders will be part of an expanded Pocket Athletic Conference this year, but the only team they added was Mount Vernon (Posey). Rohrer thinks his players, however, should be in the conference running by the end of the year, provided the effort that they give and if they can stay healthy.
They’ll waste no time diving into the county rivalry, as they’re set to open the season Nov. 24 at Jasper.
“It does make it a unique situation that being a county rival and being a big game to start, but hopefully the kids will be able to focus and control their emotion to be able to play at a high level,” Rohrer said.
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