Now, the Vikings plan to continue the success that resulted in that 10-win improvement.
“We have a lot of potential and the girls understand how to win.” said Valley coach Chris Kindig as he enters his third season. “I like our talent and I’ve been impressed with our work ethic. I’m excited to get the season going.”
Valley went from 5-15 in Kindig’s first season to 15-6 last season. The Vikings shared the Three Rivers Conference title at 5-2 with Wabash, Manchester and Rochester.
“We had the third best turnaround in the state among girls basketball teams from two years ago to last,” pointed out Kindig. “Our expectations are the same this year.”
The Vikings must replace four seniors, including their top two scorers in standout Staci Groom and Tori Keirn. Groom averaged 22 points-per-game her senior season and finished her career with 1,136 points. Kerin averaged 11 ppg. last season.
“We lost about 35 points-per-game from last season and we also lost the leadership those seniors brought to the team,” Kindig said. “But. we’re going to be okay. Our three seniors (Danielle Bussard, Courtney Newsome and Connor Fraser) are doing a good job.
“We just need girls to step up and do a little more this year for us. I think we have 8-9 girls on a given night who can score 10-15 points this year. They are all capable. They just have to keep improving and go out and prove it on the floor.”
The top returnees set to lead the Vikings are the trio of junior Kelsey Ball, sophomore Caylie Teel and senior Danielle Bussard. Ball and Teel each averaged about five points-per-game last season and Bussard scored about four points-per-contest. Ball enters her third year as a starter. The Vikings have good size inside, led by 6-3 junior Sara Alexander, along with 5-11 senior Connor Fraser and 5-10 senior Courtney Newsome.
“I think our defense is probably going to be better this year with our quickness,” said Kindig, whose team allowed 44 ppg. last season. “We have good size, so we should be a good rebounding team. We have good guards and will want to get the ball up and down the floor.”
Junior Cara Hoffman and sophomore Taylor Trippiedi, who played on the junior varsity team last year, are a pair of improved players expected to contribute this season. Robyn Dunnuck, a 5-8 junior, rounds out the Valley varsity roster of nine players.
“We have good chemistry and I like our mix of players and the options I have as a coach,” Kindig said. “We have players who are flexible and interchangeable on the court and that’s a good thing to have in games.”
Valley opens the season tonight at Bremen. The Vikings then play at Warsaw Nov. 16 before their home opener on Nov. 24 with their Thanksgiving Classic tournament. Valley plays Munster at 10:30 a.m., followed by Knox versus Noblesville. The consolation game will start at 6:15 p.m., with the championship contest to follow. The Vikings open TRC action by hosting Wabash Dec. 1.
“I think we’re going to be fine this year and could be just as good as last year,” concluded Kindig. “As long as the girls step up and I think they will.”