The 2020-21 season for the Franklin County Lady Wildcats turned out to be identical to the previous campaign in one respect; each team ended the year at 8-14 and lost in the opening round of the sectional.

The comparisons pretty much stop there, though, as this season was unlike any other with all its COVID-19 scheduling uncertainties and attendance restrictions.

“We had at minimum, five games that were either postponed or rescheduled,” reminds head coach Joe Adams, fresh off his third year at the helm. “But compared to some of the other teams in the state, we were lucky to play so many games.”

Just within the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference – where the Cats finished 1-6 in seventh place – Greensburg played a total of 19 games and Connersville 18.

“Denny did an admirable job constantly reaching out to schools to see if they'd play us,” says Adams, giving a nod to athletic director Denny Dorrel. “If not for the effort he put in, our season would have had a lot fewer games.
“It was a headache not knowing if games would be canceled, especially on the day of,” adds the coach. “You just hoped to make it through the school day and to the gym that evening without any new positive tests or close-contact quarantines. Our girls and coaching staff did a great job of following protocols during practices and games.”

Late additions were Waldron, Edinburgh (win) and senior day with Milan on Jan. 30 (51-43 win), when the FCHS gym had one of its biggest draws of the season with mandates loosening. The season started Nov. 5 with a 42-23 home win over Oldenburg Academy, a game usually slated over the holiday break. Other wins included South Dearborn, Centerville, Rising Sun, Talawanda (Oxford) and Lafayette Jeff at the Lebanon holiday tourney.
Sectional 29 went off without a hitch at Rushville's Memorial Gymnasium. Franklin County drew Greensburg, one of the tournament favorites, and gave the Pirates all they wanted.

“The fact they beat us by 25 at home (on Jan. 9) and, less than a month later, we're down six in the fourth quarter just shows you how much improvement we made in a short period of time,” Adams recalls. Greensburg closed out a 70-55 win before falling to eventual champ Rushville in the semifinals.
Adams noted that effort is a good sign for the future.

“Finishing the season with such a strong performance leaves you feeling optimistic about the upcoming season,” he says.

The team loses Camryn Brewer but should return 11 girls who placed their names in the varsity scorebook in 2020-21. Sophomore Josie Rolfes led that pack, averaging just over 10 points per game and putting in 30 more 3-pointers than the next Wildcat shooter. She had a high of 28 against Talawanda.

Junior Alex Gillman (twice) and sophomores Kiersten Schell (five times), Kassidy Schell (once) and Macy Crain (five) all had double-figure games. Freshman Nicole Mears reached the magic mark four times, including a 19-point breakout at sectional. Junior Jenna Bruns had three such games before going down with an injury in December.

“I'm hoping there will be a couple girls from JV and a couple current 8th-graders to provide us some much-needed depth on varsity next season,” says Adams, looking ahead.

“We'll really miss Camryn, but I think we should be capable of competing for a sectional and totaling double-digit wins,” adds Adams.

The team will miss another mainstay come next winter.

“I'd like to give a shoutout to my dad, Gus Adams, who's been my varsity assistant the last three seasons,” says the coach. “As he officially retires as a teacher and coach after 40 years, he's impacted hundreds of lives through education and basketball. The girls enjoyed having him around and I know I learned a lot from him as well.”

Offseason work takes place in June, when the girls will work on improving individual skills at practice while competing in various tournaments on weekends.

“A majority of our girls will spend the spring playing a different sport; I think it's beneficial for them to be multi-sport athletes,” Adams notes.

He emphasizes the coming years appear to be brighter.

“It really does feel like the program is on the upswing and on the cusp of having very successful seasons that haven't been seen here in a few years.”