Girls' stellar run hits bump

North Knox's Graycie Poe dribbles upcourt against Rivet defenders Kenadee Frey, center, and Meredith Weiss in their Nov. 21 game at Ralph Holscher Gym. All three players return to their teams next season, with Poe the area's top non-senior scorer.

It seemed like it would never end for the county's girls basketball teams.

Lincoln had the Class 3A sectional taken care of, South Knox and North Knox were more than good enough to share the 2A sectional and Rivet became a Class A postseason juggernaut in this part of the state.

But after four consecutive years when the county snared the maximum three sectional titles, it abruptly came to an end in February.

Washington, which formed strong teams in the past, finally had enough to displace the Alices in the Princeton Sectional semifinal. The Hatchets went on to win their first sectional since 2004 and completed a 21-4 season.

The Patriots had been so successful, with back-to-back state runner-up finishes, that they were moved up to 2A due to the IHSAA Tournament Success Factor. They were placed in the same Eastern Greene Sectional as the Spartans and Warriors. All three were taken out in succession by Linton, which won its first sectional in 2010 and got so hot that its 25-5 campaign was finished with its first state championship.

Lawrence County teams in Illinois, Lawrenceville and Red Hill, couldn't fill the postseason void either, making it a rare quick postseason for the area.

But it's far from an end to an era. Lincoln, Rivet and South Knox all had twice as many wins as losses this past season, and North Knox might be in the best position going forward. The Indians and Salukis also have multiple starters coming back.

The forecast for the 2020-21 season should have a decent amount of sun, but there's going to be more clouds than in the past.

LINCOLN

2019-20 SEASON: 19-5

The Alices have had six consecutive seasons of 19 wins or more, combining a terrific run of talent with coach Travis Connor. But they are about to graduate their third 1,000-point scorer in five years in Sun-Commercial Player of the Year Darrian Carmean (an area-best 21.4 points per game). Connor surprisingly retired after amassing 151 wins in 11 seasons, with rumored disenchantment of certain parents of players. The team also loses 5-10 senior starter Victoria Jackson. Lincoln still has plenty of talent and returns 1,000-point scorer Maycee Lange (15.7 points per game), who was a double-double threat every time out as a 6-0 junior. The Alices bring back 5-7 sophomore Dani Kroeger (10.0) who elevated her offensive game as an efficient 3-point shooter. Freshman guard Gracie Kramer (5.3) was pushed into starter minutes with the injury to 5-5 junior Marissa Carmean, who returned late in the year. Both should be better next season. Another strong returnee is 5-10 sophomore Chloe Cardinal (8.4), who missed eight games with a foot injury. The team didn't have a lot of depth last season and that could be an issue next season. The junior varsity was 8-10, headed by high-scoring freshman Morgan Leehy.

2020-21 FORECAST: Mostly sunny

RIVET

2019-20 SEASON: 16-8

Nobody around has had a better pipeline of players than the Patriots, who have been to seven state championship games since 2009. But Rivet loses a 1,000-point scorer for the second consecutive year in Tia Tolbert (14.8) and senior classmate Caroline Herman (11.1) also graduates with 5-3 spark plug Macee Hamilton (6.5), a multi-year starter. This from a 16-win team that would thrill plenty of schools, but that was the fewest victories in a season since 2006-07. Next year's team is going to be a lot more unproven. The top scorers back are 6-2 junior Lauren Carie (8.4), 5-8 sophomore Maddi Halter (7.5), 6-0 sophomore Meredith Weiss (4.0) and 5-4 freshman Kenadee Frey (3.3). Weiss and 5-11 junior Kathryn Herman joined Tolbert this season with injury problems and there are questions if those injuries are going to persist. Carie and Halter might have to be in the scoring neighborhood of Tolbert and Herman for next year's team to have success on the offensive end. The junior varsity was 8-8, but the eighth grade was exceptional, with Arianna Gerkin expected to make an immediate impact next season.

2020-21 FORECAST: Partly sunny

SOUTH KNOX

2019-20 SEASON: 22-5

It wasn't long ago when it was the Spartans who couldn't match the win total of the county heavyweights, but that all changed last season when they entered the Class 2A poll midseason and didn't leave. But South Knox loses the heart and soul of the team in 5-3 Mykayla Couchenour (12.8), the school's all-time leading scorer. As good as Couchenour was, 5-10 senior Hannah Ivers (12.9) had the better average, although she missed eight games with an ankle injury. The duo are going to be hard to replace, and they also are going to be without 5-8 senior grinder Shelby Osborne. But South Knox has plenty of depth and had to be one of the few teams in southwestern Indiana with four double-figure scorers. Moving into the starring roles are 5-9 junior Lexi Detweiler (10.9) and 5-5 sophomore Macie Couchenour (10.3), who are both capable of hiking their scoring averages. Players who were coming on last year were 5-8 sophomore Jordyn Derouin (4.1), 5-10 sophomore Natalee Holscher and 5-9 junior Hallie Kirk. The junior varsity was an area-best 14-3 and had plenty of players proven on that level.

2020-21 FORECAST: Partly sunny

NORTH KNOX

2019-20 SEASON: 11-12

The Warriors were in a rare rebuild, so the record wasn't a surprise with so many young players. Still the mark paled in comparison to North Knox teams in the past, being coach Steve Meurer's first losing season since 2011-12. The squad graduates 6-1 Grace Yochum (7.0), who showed growth in her final season and her height at center is going to be hard to replace, along with 5-10 reserve Sierra Davis. The top player is back in 5-4 sophomore Graycie Poe (16.7), who is the area's top scorer returning. But there is a big drop in scoring from there, with the next best coming back are 5-6 sophomore Abigail McKinley (6.2) and 5-6 freshman Emma Saucerman (5.8). Other solid underclassmen are 5-6 freshman Reegan Hammelman (3.9) and 5-8 sophomore Hannah Saucerman (2.9). Someone needs to ascend to be a double-figure scorer to take some of the load off of Poe. The junior varsity was 13-7, with several freshmen and sophomores doing good work there. The eighth grade went 21-0 and players such as Madison McCory might make an immediate jump to the varsity. The seventh and sixth grades were also unbeaten. The Warriors have a lot to be excited about for the future.

2020-21 FORECAST: Partly sunny

LAWRENCEVILLE

2019-20 SEASON: 17-13

The Indians churned out a winning season, but a lot of the work was done early as they were 7-12 over their last 19 games. They lose their rock in 5-7 senior Jayley Akers (18.9), who is the school's second all-time leading scorer. They also lose dependable inside player 5-7 Aubrey Bedwell (5.1), 5-10 rotation player Sara Joines and 5-6 Tabytha Reid to graduation. The team returns four productive juniors, 5-5 Chaylee Shick (9.4), 5-5 Katelyn Higginbotham (6.3), 5-9 Sydni Williams (5.7) and 5-4 Alexia Petty (3.6), who should make up four-fifths of next year's starting lineup. Lawrenceville depended heavily on its upperclassmen last year, which means a fifth starter and top bench spots are wide open. Playing without star Akers, who is going to play collegiately at IU-Kokomo, is going to be an adjustment. A lack of size is a concern as well.

2020-21 FORECAST: Partly cloudy

RED HILL

2019-20 SEASON: 6-13

The Salukis have battled the same issues for several seasons. Top on the lost is missing a go-to scorer to fuel an offense that averaged just 34.9 points last season. They do bring back their top scorer, 5-6 sophomore Maci Scherer (9.5), who surprised with a 22-point opener and finished with three consecutive double-figure games. But the team loses two to graduation in 5-4 Cat Bowersock (8.8) and 5-3 Hannah Murray (5.7), who was the only Red Hill player to earn all-Little Illini Conference honors. The next best scorer back is 5-6 sophomore Emma Robinson (3.7), with classmates 5-3 Alyssa Street (2.7) and 5-1 Kenlee Lytle (2.5) getting action in all 19 games. The team had no juniors this past season and just 11 players total. The lack of a junior varsity squad for multiple years in a row has hurt the development of players, who are either pushed to the varsity too soon or sitting on the bench. Scherer and Robinson, at 5-6, were the tallest on the team, forcing the Salukis to look up at their opponents on an every-game basis.

2020-21 FORECAST: Mostly cloudy

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