WINONA LAKE – With two years of IHSAA sanctioned basketball under its belt, Lakeland Christian Academy is ready to take on its next challenge, welcoming in Brian Harshman as its new girls basketball head coach.
Harshman is no stranger to LCA and the basketball scene, having coached the girls junior high program and boys JV team on two-year stints as well as spending time at Elkhart Central as a girls basketball assistant. The girls in the junior high program have now elevated to the varsity program, to which Harshman is excited to reacquaint and help continue to develop.
“This year we are looking to build the foundation of a long lasting program that has a tradition of great competition,” Harshman said. “We want our kids at Lakeland to be proud that they are a Lady Cougar and that being a Lady Cougar is an honor. The way we want to do this is by putting up some wins this year. We don’t want to be that team other teams circle on their calendar as a win. We want to battle with teams and let everyone know they are going to have to bring their best when they play Lakeland Christian.”
Ty Propp guided the program to a 10-32 mark in its first two sanctioned seasons, including a win in last year’s sectional tournament, the first in school history.
Among those on the list to take a step forward with the varsity are junior guard Hannah Delp and junior center Rachel Sand. Both return to the varsity after solid sophomore campaigns in which each player averaged almost eight points per game. Delp not only can shoot the ball, but was the team’s leader in assists and fielded much of the ball handling duties for the Lady Cougars last season. Sand was a nice inside-outside presence for LCA as a sophomore, creating matchup problems for some teams having to drop guards inside or forwards to the perimeter.
“Hannah has already taken a huge role as our leader and there is no doubt about it when she steps on the floor,” Harshman said. “She is directing the floor and even coaching up girls during practice. Its been great to see. I think a fire grew in her the past few years and now she is letting it out. I really look for her to do a lot of the scoring this year.”
Graduation provided a bit of a problem for LCA moving forward, as the program will have to fill the void of three departed, notably Morgan Holsclaw who led the team in scoring over 11 points per contest. LCA has five seniors on this fall’s preseason roster, but the varsity-experienced trio of Emily McCoomb, Maryl Gerst and Joselyn Helton combined for just three points per game. Ashley Ornsby and Oksana Sutton are also seniors on the squad.
McCoomb will take over the point guard duties out of the gate, as will sophomore Melissa Goss.
Juniors Carissa Urshalitz and Brighty Walters along with sophomore Ellie Nieveen also return and freshman Heather Plastow completes the varsity roster, according to Harshman’s preseason analysis.
LCA is looking forward to a potentially beefy schedule this season, with road contests at Jimtown Dec. 5 and at Culver Academy Jan. 16 along with a home date against Argos Jan. 10 among the tougher matchups on the calendar. Harshman is looking forward to the challenges, as well as the wrap-around holiday tournaments at Bethany Christian right before Christmas and the LCA Classic right after the new year. The Lady Cougars open at Huntington Home School Tuesday and open its home grid Nov. 21 hosting Michigan City Marquette.
“While we might not set 1A on fire, I really think we can make some noise,” noted Harshman. “Playing schools like Jimtown, Culver and Argos will allow us to really see where we are at as a program. We know where we want to be and when you play teams like that, it definitely lets you know.”