Werner starting second stint as Southridge coach

Herald file photo
Southrige girls basketball coach Greg Werner cuts the net after winning the Class 3A sectional championship in 2014.


HUNTINGBURG — There will be a familiar face roaming the sidelines when Southridge takes the floor on Tuesday at Perry Central.

Greg Werner stepped down as coach of the Raiders after 12 seasons in 2016. Werner went 192-77 with two appearances in the regional tournament during his first stint with the team. He served the last three years as assistant principal of the school, a position he still holds. Werner returned as coach back in late June after consulting with his wife, Rachel, on the matter. She agreed to it, knowing what coaching means to him.

“It’s nice to make a difference on kids and have an impact on those kids in a positive way,” Werner said.

He has the task of trying to rebuild the program to its former glory. The Raiders went a combined 18-47 the past three seasons when Werner was away, but it’s not the first time he’s had to oversee a rebuild at Southridge. Southridge went 2-19 during the 2007-2008 season, and 10-11 the next year before Werner’s Raiders reeled off seven consecutive winning campaigns. Werner said the first rebuild was tough but added it was fine because everybody goes through cycles. He praised those teams having the foundation and keeping things together. Werner said the 2-19 team was competitive in their games in spite of their record.

Werner said some of the similarities between those teams and this current group are the challenges in containing the basketball and the players getting their head out in front of it. He said one of the differences in the two rebuilds was that those teams in the 2000s had to get things done on defense, while the current Raiders have players who can score.

One of those scorers is sophomore forward Myah Montgomery. Montgomery earned Pocket Athletic all-conference honors as a freshman after averaging 16 points per game. She dropped 38 in a 54-50 Dec. 6, 2018 win at Pike Central. Werner said she is going to have a versatile role with the Raiders. He called her a driver and a shooter, but hopes she will also be a post presence for the team.

“She’s a very, very, very good athlete, but we’re going to fine tune her to be a great, an outstanding athlete and then improve that mental IQ,” he said.

Werner expects Montgomery and junior guard Kennedy Nalley to be his coaches on the floor. He commended how great of an athlete Nalley is, and praised that she wants to be coached. Werner said she always asks him each day after practice if she got better. He said she has, and also can improve even more.

Southridge has one senior this year in guard Anna Kappner. The Raiders have eight underclassmen on their squad, and Werner will look to them to make contributions. They graduated guard Mady Neukam, who averaged 9.9 points last year en route to a PAC honorable mention selection. The Raiders have another challenge in front of them after losing junior guard Monica Steckler and senior forward Grace Sickbert to injuries.

Werner thought Steckler could fill in for the role Neukam provided, but mentioned Kappner as someone who could step in to that void. He praised Kappner’s leadership and attitude of wanting to be good. Werner trusts her in that spot as she is a senior. He also expects junior forward Rose Temple and freshman guard Marie Temple to step up in Steckler’s absence. Warner added he anticipates Rose Temple and junior center Abigail Kerkhoff will fill the void of Sickbert’s absence.

He said the Raiders must be more disciplined on defense, and added they must be committed to defensive principles. Werner said his players can’t gamble on everything they do and get out of position. He added Southridge must understand the discipline and the structure on defense. Werner said the Raiders might get off to a slow start on offense because they’re focusing to work on their defense. He said they must block out better on defense and understand execution on offense.

Perry Central squeaked out a 43-39 win in the Oct. 30, 2018 meeting between these two teams. The start time is scheduled for 8 p.m. Werner said the Raiders seem hungry to want to be good, and it’s his job to keep working with them and give them the knowledge.

“They have to believe in themselves as much as I believe in them,” Werner said.

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