Login NowClose 
Sign In to wabashplaindealer.com           
Forgot Password
or if you have not registered since 8/22/18
Click Here to Create an Account

Wabash battles youth, injuries over summer

Wabash's Alivia Short brings the ball upcourt during a summer league game at North Miami this off-season.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

The Apache girls’ basketball team expected a summer of changes as any team does heading into the off-season. But injuries derailed the summer even further, leaving head coach Matt Stone with a host of younger players to thrust into varsity roles.

The results were mixed but the experience gained during the summer is something Stone thinks will prove valuable in the upcoming season.

“I think we went 6-10 which, with who we played, it’s not too bad,” Stone said. “We played good competition and we were short-handed most the summer. Mariah (Wyatt) got hurt and didn’t play the whole summer. The second half of the summer, we didn’t have Linda Cordes or Madi Lutz so we had to play a lot of young kids and I think they got better. We’re playing four freshmen out there and at least a couple of them are going to need to play for us during the season.

“I think it was a great learning experience for those four. It did put a lot of pressure on Alivia (Short). Probably the best part of the summer was how good it was for those four freshmen.”

Mariah Wyatt’s foot injury in the opening week of the off-season robbed Wabash of arguably its best returning player. Wyatt averaged 9.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season while shooting a team-best 45 percent from the field.

Without Wyatt, the Apaches’ summer was only tougher as Wabash took trips to shootouts at Clinton Prairie and East Central for shootouts while also competing weekly in the North Miami Summer League.

Alivia Short was the main returning starter in the lineup for Wabash this summer as she averaged 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last season. Nici Gunderman, the other returning starter, averaged 2.2 points per game at the guard spot last winter.

The lack of returning players opened up multiple doors for incoming freshmen which Stone took advantage of.

“Even from the beginning, we knew at least two (freshmen) were going to play some,” Stone said. “Then with the injuries and some other stuff, now all four of them are playing. It’s a really good group. As a JV, they’re going to go 10-2. I think they played really well. So we have a nice bright future with our young kids and we only have one senior out here. I’m not sure where we’ll be but I think the summer was good for us.”

Last season, the Apaches struggled in various areas but likely none more so than outside shooting. Wabash hit just 68 three-pointers in 23 games with graduating seniors accounting for 66 of those makes.

The freshmen entering the fold, though, have helped fill those holes left on the outside to give the Apaches an added boost heading into a new season.

“Shooting is the one (hole),” Stone said. “Hope (Unger) was really our only shoot last year. (Libby Mattern) may be our best sure and she’s only a freshman. And certainly, Alivia stepped out and did some of it. When Mariah’s back, Alivia’s going to be able to do some of that. That’s really one thing we’re going to have to fill in is some outside shooting. And our seniors were long so we’re not going to be quite as long.

“And so, I think that’s where we’re going to have to fill in is we’re going to have to play together a little better on defense because we’re not as long and we’re going to have to find some shooting.”