Lady Bulldogs look to build off last year’s success
No team faced adversity more than the New Franklin Lady Bulldogs basketball team in 2020-21 under head coach Morgan Vetter.
Although the Lady Bulldogs finished the season at 10-15 overall and 4-4 in the Central Activities Conference, Vetter said it wasn’t until the end of the season that New Franklin had its entire team together all at one time.
“We look forward to building off the success we had last season even through all the hoops of covid,” Vetter said. “We bring in an athletic freshmen crew that has six athletes. I believe we will be stronger and even more skilled this season with some additional height and athleticism.”
With 14 players suited out for the upcoming season, the Lady Bulldogs will definitely have experience on their side with four returning starters and seven letter winners.
But will that be enough to beat teams like Cairo, Community and Glasgow, who Vetter feels are the top three teams favored in the CAC. “I think we will make our stamp this year in conference,” Vetter said. “I think we will fight for a top three spot and surprise a lot of people. The key for us is to build, grow and improve from our last year’s strengths and weaknesses. The drive and effort must be consistent game to game and we have to be confident in everything we do together as a team.”
Make no mistake, the Lady Bulldogs will be able to match up with most teams this season with their athleticism and numbers-something Vetter said the team hasn’t had a lot of the last couple of years as far as big numbers to go. She said the depth is deep with many people being able to contribute to their success. “We have a strong group that will battle with anybody and our speed and outside shooting continues to improve,” Vetter said. “However, we also have to do a lot better in terms of our focus. I thought we lost focus in certain games last year. We also took rest and weren’t dialed in.”
Vetter said the goals for the team are pretty much the same as every year to make a run in conference and get to the title game in districts and compete. She said this group is capable of doing big things.
Vetter said the motto of this year’s team is: “Win together, lose together, fight together.”
With no starting lineup set in stone yet, Vetter will have to rely on the experience of seniors Abby Maupin and Kristen Flick and juniors Carly Dorson and Addy Salmon.
Maupin returns after earning all-conference and all-district in 2020-21 at the guard position. While averaging 13.2 ppg along with 5.3 rpg last year, Maupin also finished the season shooting 35 percent from the field and 60.4 percent from the free throw line. Vetter said Maupin is a lanky, athletic athlete that has also helped the team for the past three seasons. “She is able to play multiple positions and is a challenge for other teams to guard,” Vetter said. “She has great speed and is streaky from the outside when shooting. Consistency is what we are looking for from her this season.”
Vetter is also looking for consistency is Flick at the post position. While average 3.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg last season, Vetter said Flick is an aggressive, undersized post player but works hard and communicates well on the floor. “She does all the little things that have helped us out in the past three years,” Vetter said. “She’s a good rebounder, physical, and good scorer from the paint. I imagine big things from her this year along with a leader presence.”
Like Maupin, Dorson also returns after earning all-conference and all-district for the Lady Bulldogs last season. While averaging 10.9 ppg along with 6.1 rpg, Dorson also shot 29.6 percent from the field and 51.8 percent from the foul line. Vetter said Dorson has improved her game year to year and can play multiple positions. “She is a consistent player who loves the game,” Vetter said. “Her ability to play down low, shoot mid-range jumpers and the occasional threes makes her a hard athlete to defend. Her drive and work ethic make her. We look forward to her leadership and success this season.”
While Dorson can play both the guard and forward position for the Lady Bulldogs, Vetter will look to Salmon strictly at the point-guard position this season. Salmon average 7.4 ppg last year for New Franklin while earning all-conference honors in the CAC. She also averaged 3.7 rpg while shooting 35.6 percent from the field and 62.9 percent from the foul line. Vetter said Salmon is the point guard and athlete who does a little bit of everything on the floor. “Her presence is needed on the floor, whether handling the ball, scoring, or dishing out assists,” Vetter said. “She is versatile and competitive. She plays hard and loves to win. I can’t wait to see her growth and leadership this season.”
Other players that will be asked to contribute this season are senior Dakota Clark and juniors Emma Rice, Justice Singleton and Kelsi Fair. Clark returns after averaging 1.4 ppg and 2.76 rpg at the guard position, while Rice, Singleton and Fair (2.0 ppg and 4.2 rpg) all return to play in the post.
Vetter said she hopes Clark builds off of her success from last season and helps out on fast break opportunities, offensive boards and being an active defender who can get steals. As for Rice, Vetter said Emma’s first year was last year.
“Her height is key,” Vetter said. “She is very tall and has great speed. She has improved her game much over the summer and has become much more physical. I believe she will be a great presence and addition to this year’s squad and style of play. Justice is another good post player who is undersized but can play some guard positions. She is a physical presence for us and rebounds well. She is fearless and loves being competitive. As for Kelsi, she is a big body post player for us. Her height and physical play helps us down low. Her vocal presence on the floor is also a need for our team. She is a team player and stays involved and communicates. I believe she has gotten stronger and wiser since she started playing and has really molded into a true post presence.”
Other players that will help out this season, whether it’s on the varsity team or JV squad, are freshmen Brynn Belstle, Kebrea Fair, Tatum Hoover, Emersyn Eads, Kinsley Washburn and Brooklyn Brown. Vetter said Belstle, Hoover and Eads will all play at the guard position, while Kebrea Fair, Washburn and Brown will see playing time at post.