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Knights kick off girls basketball season

Basketball: Northfield’s Emma Hoover prepares to shoot a three-pointer during last week’s scrimmage against South Adams.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

The girls’ basketball season kicks off on Wednesday night with Southwood hosting Blackford. All four teams will be in action once between Wednesday and Saturday. 

Southwood (0-0) - vs. Blackford, 11/6, 7:45 p.m.

After back-to-back seasons of struggle, the Knights begin the 2019-20 season with hopes of finally breaking through. Senior MaKenna Pace will be the leader for Southwood once more after leading the team in scoring each of the last two seasons. In her junior campaign, Pace averaged 10.8 points per contest as the lone Knight in double figures.

Southwood welcomes in a Blackford side that finished 1-21 last season, including a loss to the Knights, 49-23. The Knights have won all three meetings with the Bruins with the 16-point loss last season the closest of those contests.

Sophomore Jaycie Sones led the team in scoring with 7.1 points per game last season. Six seniors graduated from last season’s Bruin squad.

Despite just five wins in each of the last two seasons, Southwood has started the year with a win in each of the last three seasons. 

Northfield (0-0) - vs. Mississinewa, 11/7, 7:30 p.m.

The Norse open the season ranked No. 8 in the Class A poll after a trip to the semi-state last year. This season, Northfield opens with a contest against a Mississinewa side they have dominated traditionally, winning 13 of the last 15 meetings. Last season, Northfield won the contest between the two sides 54-37 and have a seven-game winning streak against the Indians.

The Indians are anchored by Caily Bolser, a 6’5” center who averaged 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season. Riley McKee added 9.1 points per game.

Northfield’s leading returner is sophomore Addi Baker as the junior averaged 7.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season.

The Indians finished last season with a 13-10 record while the Norse were 25-3 with conference, Wabash County, sectional and regional titles. 

Manchester (0-0) - vs. Triton, 11/8, 7:30 p.m.

Manchester heads into its new season with a new-look roster from top to bottom. First-year head coach Josh Troyer takes over a side that shared the Three Rivers Conference title last season but departed with leading scorer Kennedy Fierstos and three other seniors from that squad.

Now, the Squires open the season led by returning guards Eva Bazzoni and Kiera Hatfield, a duo that averaged 10.1 and 5.4 points per game last season.

Awaiting the Squires in the home-opener will be a Triton side Manchester is familiar with having met the Trojans 15 times dating back to the 2000-01 season. Manchester won last year’s meeting and earned a 41-26 win. That win, though, snapped a four-game winning streak by Triton from 2011 until 2015. Triton finished 6-17 on the season last year. 

Wabash (0-0) - at Elwood, 11/9, 7:30 p.m.

The Apaches’ are the lone county team to hit the road this week, heading to Elwood for the season-opener. Wabash struggled to a 9-14 record last season but return the near entirety of last season’s roster.

After standout seasons on the volleyball court, the duo of Alivia Short and Mariah Wyatt lead the Apaches into the basketball season. Short average 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds last season while Wyatt averaged 9.5 points and 7.7 rebounds.

The pair will be joined by a host of freshmen guards that are expected to contribute this season after Wabash struggled in the backcourt last season.

Elwood finished 4-20 last season with a loss to the Apaches in the opener, 44-39. Prior to, the Panthers won a string of three games from 2004 until 2007.