Culver Community girls basketball preview
CULVER — Culver Community head coach Tony Scheub recoils at the mention of a “rebuilding season.”
Despite the graduation of the Lady Cavaliers’ top five scorers from last season’s groundbreaking 25-2 regional, Northern State Conference and Bi-County championship squad, Scheub’s expectations for this year’s squad are high.
“I’ve heard this a lot, like this is going to be a rebuilding year,” said Scheub. “To me, I don’t like that term because it’s almost like you’re giving up on the season. We have high expectations for these kids. We want to compete in the conference, we want to compete in the Bi-County Tournament, and we want to compete for that sectional. To me, this isn’t a rebuilding year. We’re looking to get back to where we were last year and not skip a beat. We know it’s not going to be easy, yeah, but we don’t want to label this season as a rebuilding year.”
While this year’s squad is overwhelmingly young, two players do return some big game experience to the 2011-12 Cavs.
Sophomore guard and returning sixth-man Kayla Shaffer is back after putting up 107 points as a freshman, while junior guard Ali Overmyer is also back with the team. Last year’s first-ever regional championship campaign made an impression on the duo, and Scheub said they seem ready to pick up where they left off.
“Just watching Kayla Shaffer and Ali Overmyer play this year you can see they’re a lot more confident than they were last year,” he said. “They’re stepping up into a leadership role where our last team kind of passed the torch to them, and they feel like they need to carry on what was started last year.”
Also back with the team are senior Chelsea Jones and sophomore Abby James, complementing the mix of talented newcomers.
Foremost among the incoming talent is freshman point guard Tatum Schultz.
“She’s done a really good job for us so far,” said Scheub. “We kind of expected big things from her and so far she hasn’t failed to live up to those. She’s a tough kid and just a good all-around basketball player.”
Guard Angella Lewellen adds valuable minutes off the bench, and a pair of 5-11 freshmen in Mickella Hardy and Donna Zehner — the younger sister of 2011 grad Gwen Zehner, who finished off her career with 1,310 points last season — are making big strides in the post for Culver.
“Angella Lewellen, she’s our 2 guard; she’s one of our first people of the bench,” Scheub said. “She’s a good little shooter for us and can handle the ball. Then we have Mickella Hardy and Donna Zehner, both freshman post players who are doing a really good job. They’re really establishing themselves in the post. They’re getting a lot of rebounds, and we’re working on finishing with them now. They’re a pleasant surprise.”
The Cavs have the pieces in place to get back to a high level of play this season. Although they lost as much personnel as any team last season, the younger players are looking promising at the outset of Scheub’s second season at the helm.
“This year after losing five seniors and five top scorers, I don’t know what people are expecting out of us, but we had all summer to work with our kids, which was a definite plus because last year I didn’t have the summer to work with them: The first practice was when I first had everyone in and saw them play together,” said Scheub. “So as far as our offense and defense, we’re ahead of where we were last year because of that. Last year we were lucky to have five experienced seniors that had played together for a long time that kind of made up for that. This year we have a lot of young kids, but they’ve already run in our system for about a month and a half in the summer and played games in the summer. It’s just getting the kids some game experience and getting them used to the speed of the varsity level, and I think they’re doing a really good job of adapting to that.”