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January 14, 2013

GREG'S PICKS: Young Henryville is suddenly one of area’s hottest teams

Freshman-dominated Hornets have won six straight to get to 9-6

HENRYVILLE — As was probably expected before the 2012-13 campaign, it’s been a roller-coaster season for the Henryville girls’ basketball team.

After all, the Hornets lost Allison Knox — last year’s leading ... well ... everything — along with Sarah Richey and Hannah Gilstrap.

In stepped what appears to be one of the best freshman classes Henryville’s ever had. Emily Hollis and Emma Hendricks lead a Hornets’ class that has made the departure of Knox bearable.

Of course, it’s not always been smooth. After opening the season 3-0 against mediocre competition, the Hornets lost six straight, including losses against Lanesville and Trinity Lutheran teams they probably should have beaten.

On Dec. 7, Henryville appeared headed for a seventh consecutive defeat. The Hornets trailed visiting Providence 24-8 at halftime. Then suddenly everything must have clicked.

The Hornets outscored the Pioneers 38-20 in the second half for a stunning 46-44 victory — and they haven’t lost since.

Despite their youth, the Hornets are currently 9-6. With several winnable games down the stretch, they’re almost certain to finish with a winning record despite all of their youth. And they’re rolling heading toward the Class 2A tournament.

“This has been a very exciting and rewarding season,” Henryville coach Josh Conrad said. “We have a great group of girls who come in and work hard each and every day.”

Despite a roster dominated by freshmen, seniors Jasmine Harrell and Chelsea LaMotte have played key roles. Both guards are capable of running the Hornet offense and Conrad said the duo has helped the younger players adapt to the varsity level.

“Our seniors have been excellent role models for our younger players, who continue to grow and mature each day,” Conrad said.

Henryville will get challenges this week from Christian Academy on Tuesday, Borden on Thursday and Orleans on Saturday.

The way they’re playing, the Hornets have a chance to push the winning streak to double digits before a trip to Pekin on Jan. 24. If they can beat conference-rival Borden, Orleans and Eastern, it’s possible they could enter the tournament on a 13-game winning streak.

While it’s not likely, just mentioning the possibility just over a month ago would have seemed ludicrous.

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