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Summer Camp: Southwestern looking for leadership

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Southwestern forward Madison Van Gorden attempts a shot in the paint during a sectional contest against Oldenburg last season.
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Southwestern guard Lexi Wilkins puts up a 3-pointer during a game last season. Wilkins made over 70 threes as a freshman.

By KATRINA BRANSON - kbranson@shelbynews.com

Replacing two four-year starters is no easy task. Missing Annie Coy at the point guard position is a tough enough. Add in Emmy Wendling, as well, and it gets much more difficult.

Coy averaged 10.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists (second in county) per game last season. Wendling, after recovering from an injury, came back to average 6.2 ppg and 4.3 rpg.

This summer, the Lady Spartans are trying to move forward without the two leaders.

“This summer we’ve focused on getting everybody comfortable,” explained SW head coach Noah Stuckey. “Losing two four-year starters is a very big deal. We’re trying to focus on how to run our offense without them. Replacing Annie at the point guard position is tough. We have three new freshmen who are sticking, and we’re just trying to see how everyone meshes together.”

The Spartans lost two high-caliber players in Coy and Wendling but more importantly – they lost two leaders. Another leader, 2018 senior Danielle Phillips, who averaged 7.1 ppg and 3.4 rpg, was also a key piece to the team last season.

Working to build chemistry, the team remained busy in June, playing in the Edinburgh League and participating in a shootout at Salem. The team also traveled to Indiana Wesleyan.

“I’m pretty happy with how we’re playing,” said Stuckey. “We competed and, overall, I thought we did really well. This summer we have 18 players in the program, and we’re just trying to figure out who goes where and who does what.”

A key returnee for Southwestern is senior forward Madison Van Gorden, who has proved she is more than ready for a leadership role.

“Madison Van Gorden is showing up no questions asked this summer,” said Stuckey. “She’s ready to compete, and she’s really stepping up and being a leader we need.”

The summer also showed the return of sharpshooting guard Lexi Wilkins. As a freshman last year, Wilkins broke the school record (eight made threes in a contest) just three games into the season. 

Also putting in work this summer is senior guard Shelby Sipes – known for her shot from behind the arch.

After a chaotic start to the summer, the Lady Spartans will take time off in July.

“We take off July and give them a break to enjoy their summer,” said Stuckey.

Freshman Lily Kerver is one of the top newcomers this summer, according to Stuckey. 

“Defensively, she’s really good,” he said. “She’s definitely our best defender – she does really well at it . We’ll have to work on the offensive side of things, but we did focus on defense this summer.”

Katrina Branson is a Sports writer for The Shelbyville News. Follow Katrina on Twitter @k_b527.

Southwestern Spartans

2017-2018 Record: 10-11, 5-1 in MHC (tied with Morristown for first)

Returning Players: Lexi Wilkins, Madison Van Gorden, Shelby Sipes

Top Newcomers: Lily Kerver