There have been some growing pains for the Franklin County girls basketball program the last three seasons, following a 16-win campaign in 2016-17.

In his second year on the sidelines, head coach Joe Adams felt his team could make a marked improvement upon the 7-15 record from a year ago.

The Lady Wildcats did collect one more win, finishing 8-14 after a 39-37 overtime loss to South Dearborn in the sectional opener. However, Adams thought his squad could have finished stronger in a handful of close contests.

“I do feel disappointed about the way our season turned out,” said the coach, who took over for Doug Robertson in 2018. “I know most people had low expectations for us because we had lost five seniors from the previous season, but I felt that we would be better this season.

“We lost five games by five points or less,” he added. “We had some really good moments but had some tough breaks that kept us from having double-figure wins.”

Those narrow losses came at Richmond (36-33), Talawanda (37-32) and Hagerstown (37-34), a home OT loss to Batesville (40-37), and the sectional defeat. On the plus side, the girls won a few tight contests – 43-40 over S. Dearborn in a holiday tournament, 34-33 over Oldenburg Academy a few days later, and a 47-44 home win over Shelbyville in early December.

“I thought our most complete game and best team win was against Shelbyville,” Adams reflected. “I felt like going into that game, we were extremely prepared for their press and half-court trap. We limited our turnovers and hit some big shots.”

Speaking of points, no fewer than 13 girls etched their name in the scorebook, though the team netted just 36.9 points a contest – a six-year low.
Senior forward Kairee Hodapp led the team with a 6.4 scoring average, as well as a 6.1 rebounding average. Senior guards Taylor McCreary (5.5) and Ashlan Hill (5.4) were the only other Wildcats above 5 ppg. McCreary added 5.4 boards and 2.1 steals; Hill collected 2 assists and 2 steals per contest. Another senior, Laura Hildebrand, was only able to play in two games due to an injury. McCreary led the quartet with six 3-pointers.

With the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference extremely talented again this year, the Wildcats (2-5) finished sixth out of eight teams. Greensburg was unbeaten as EIAC champs, totaling 24 wins and joining East Central as regional finalists. Those two and Lawrenceburg combined for 68 wins.

“It does help that next year, our starting five will all have varsity experience and understand what it takes to win games in such a difficult and competitive conference,” said Adams.

“I think we need to keep focusing on individual improvement throughout the summer so that we don't have to spend as much time during the regular season working on the basics.”

Juniors on the squad were Kloe Bolos (3.7 ppg, team-bests in 15 made threes and 73% at the free throw line) and Camryn Brewer.
Helping to brighten the future are a handful of underclassmen who averaged a collective 12.2 minutes of playing time.

Alex Gillman (4.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Jenna Bruns (3.7, 3.4) and Emma Cabezuelo made up the sophomore class. Four freshmen earned letters: Josie Rolfes (4.3 ppg, 27% from behind the arc), Macy Crain (2.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg), Kiersten Schell (2.8 ppg) and Kassidy Schell (2.7 ppg).

“I'm excited about the playing experience our freshmen and sophomores gained this season,” said the coach. “There were a lot of growing pains along the way, but I expect them to be much improved at the start of next season.”

The ladies returning, of course, will have to buy into the offseason for improvements to show.

“Throughout the spring, we'll let the girls focus on their spring sports,” said Adams. “Once June starts, we'll practice multiple days a week and play in a couple of different shootouts. The main focus of our summer program will be individual improvement and turning weaknesses into strengths.”