Southridge’s Goeppner embracing her journey

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Southridge junior forward Mikah Goeppner smiles during a preseason practice. “I’ve seen myself grow a lot in the sport,” Goeppner said. “I’ve learned to love it.”

By JIMMY LAFAKIS
jlafakis@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — When Mikah Goeppner takes the court inside Memorial Gym, her childhood memories manifest into her current reality. The historic gymnasium’s hallowed walls create a backdrop of delight for Southridge’s junior forward, who has played basketball since elementary school.

“I’ve always wanted to be like all the players I saw when I was little,” Goeppner said. “I thought they were so cool. It just looked so fun to them.”

Goeppner’s versatility provides the Raiders with an additional layer of depth. Her defensive prowess helps Southridge head coach Greg Werner mix and match proficient lineups.

“She’s been in all different roles for us,” Werner said. “She’s one that can shift to a role of having to guard one of the best players on the team. I give her a break whenever I need to keep her strong out there. If I can keep her fresh, I’m gaining confidence every day that she is going to turn a big corner where she’s shutting everybody down. She’s got the strength and the size. I’ve just got to get her to believe that.”

The Raiders are hitting their stride at a critical time. Southridge captured a 42-19 win at Northeast Dubois on Tuesday. Two days later, the Raiders traveled to South Spencer and earned a 50-27 victory.

“Seeing us grow every year as a team and as a family is really nice to see,” Goeppner said. “The success that comes with it is good, too.”

Those road victories never come easily, but Goeppner’s steady demeanor contributes to winning. She possesses the ability to score at all three levels — outside the arc, within the mid-range and inside the paint. When Southridge guards Kennedy Nalley and Myah Montgomery drive to the basket, they can dish the ball to Goeppner for open looks.

“The biggest key is that it puts a threat as a scorer on the floor,” Werner said. “It helps take some of the pressure off of Myah. That’s the biggest thing — you have another player that is an outstanding scorer. We’re going to keep getting better with her as we move forward. She’s going to keep developing her game. We just haven’t had a lot of time together.”

Werner underscored Goeppner’s offensive improvement throughout last season. Although she began her high school career as a post player, she honed her long-distance craft as a sophomore.

“She’s got the green light to shoot,” Werner said. “I have all the confidence in the world. She developed last year. She became consistent. She’s just played with that confidence since. I just hope that she continues that.”

As an upperclassman, Goeppner relishes leading by example. Werner has witnessed the Raiders grow as vocal leaders, but he also admires Goeppner’s quiet determination.

“They would probably say that I will always have their back,” Goeppner said about her teammates. “I will always play for them. I know what’s best for them, what’s best for me and how we can achieve something together.”

Goeppner has dedicated herself to basketball and softball. Those sports have fostered her fierce Southridge pride.

“She wouldn’t want to be any other place,” Werner said. “She’s an outstanding softball player and an outstanding catcher. Her number one sport is softball, but we’re just thankful that she’s given us so much to our basketball team. She commits. She loves her teammates. She cares about her teammates, she wants to see them do well and she wants to do well. I’ve been seeing success out of her.”

She enjoys strapping up her gear on the diamond, but Goeppner has gained an indelible appreciation for hoops.

“I’ve seen myself grow a lot in the sport,” she said. “I’ve learned to love it.”

Werner helped Goeppner develop her passion. The player and coach built their relationship on the cornerstones of trust and respect.

“He’s given me a lot of tips,” Goeppner said. “He’s shown me that I can do it. I have the ability to do it. He’s just making me see that in myself.”

This year hurled some curveballs at Goeppner and the Raiders, but she has stayed headstrong. Her optimistic outlook and malleability can help Southridge thrive in crunch time.

“I’m just really proud of her,” Werner said. “I hope that she keeps continuing on this path that she’s on. She’s got big things ahead of her. If she can stay level-headed and keep learning from us, she’s going to keep getting better.”




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