It took Morristown just over two months to get its record back to .500 after an 0-6 start.
The Yellow Jackets went 7-2 in January and enter Class A, Sectional 60 riding the momentum of a six-game winning streak.
“We’ve got good momentum happening,” agreed Morristown head coach Rachel Kleine. “It’s come as our strength of schedule has (lessened) but the kids are working together as a team.”
Sectional 60 opens tonight at Southwestern High School with Class A, No. 13 Jac-Cen-Del (12-11) taking on the defending sectional champion Waldron (5-17) at 7 p.m. The winner advances to face Southwestern (6-16) Friday in the semifinals.
On Wednesday, Oldenburg Academy (11-9) battles South Decatur (7-14) and Morristown (12-10) meets Edinburgh (6-17) for the second time in the last three weeks. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Lancers, 37-16 on Jan. 14.
“Edinburgh is a scrappy, physical team that we definitely do not want to overlook,” said Kleine.
If the Yellow Jackets advance, they look forward to a rematch with South Decatur, who they lost to on Nov. 10 as part of that six-game losing streak.
“We played South Decatur very early in the season and we were missing a handful of kids so we were really young on the floor,” said Kleine.
Or, Oldenburg Academy will seek revenge on Morristown for a 36-32 loss on Dec. 12.
“It was a fight when we went there so I wouldn’t expect anything else,” said Kleine of a potential rematch with the Twisters.
Wednesday’s winners advance to the second semifinal game Friday at Southwestern.
Kleine will rely heavily on senior guard Raegan Kleine’s experience in the postseason.
“Every game it’s important for Raegan to have the ball in her hands,” said coach Kleine. “She has not been finishing well the last few games but her team around her has been picking up the slack.”
Kleine is averaging 12.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 3.6 steals per game in her final season.
Sophomore Danika Rutledge was sidelined to start the season with an injury but now leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg).
“She makes a world of difference with those long arms,” said Kleine of the five foot, 11-inch forward. “She has a nice shot and runs the floor well.”
With Rutledge at the top of the Morristown defense in the half court, she is long enough and quick enough to disrupt shooting guards from getting comfortable from beyond the 3-point line.
When Morristown is playing well, there is contribution beyond Kleine and Rutledge from senior Maggie Lutes (2.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg), junior Alexia Rogers (3.8 ppg, team-high 18 made 3s) and sophomore Olivia Rude (2.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg).
Kleine has led the Yellow Jackets to their third consecutive winning season while the program is seeking its first sectional title since winning back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015.
“That’s still pretty out there,” said Kleine of talking about winning a sectional title. “The kids feel confident in their ability to compete but we’ve had games with some really big letdowns.
“We talk about controlling the things we can control. We will respect our opponents and focus on one game at a time, but I remember those back-to-back sectional titles.”
Morristown has already accomplished plenty going from 0-6 to 12-10 and Kleine would love to celebrate a sectional title with this team.
“The goal was to get back to .500 and that’s a pretty big accomplishment,” said Kleine. “But the kids are not done yet.”
Following the graduation of seven seniors that took the program to new heights – ranked No. 1 in Class A and winning sectional and regional titles – a rebuilding season with new coach Ilea Shipp was not unexpected.
Senior Josee Larrison (7.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.6 apg) was the only returning player with varsity experience.
Cendall Sheaffer (4.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg) and Madison Ping are the other seniors dressing for their final sectional tournament.
The Mohawks are led in scoring by junior Alyssa Benson (9.9 ppg, 3.1 spg) and count on junior Audrey Hogg (5.7 ppg, 5 rpg) and sophomore Alivia Fischer (4.4 ppg, 4 rpg).
Waldron opens the sectional against Jac-Cen-Del, winners of six of their last seven games, a team it lost to 47-33 on Dec. 6.
Jac-Cen-Del is led by Reagan Hughes (13 ppg, 2.6 spg), Julia Meyer (12.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Olivia Neal (10.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg).
Head coach Scott Smith enters the sectional with 397 career wins, all at Jac-Cen-Del.
The Spartans started the season 0-10 but went 6-6 over the final 12 games and won three of their last four under head coach Jason West. Now, they wait until Friday to debut in the postseason against either Waldron or Jac-Cen-Del.
Southwestern lost at Jac-Cen-Del, 58-18 on Jan. 13 and went 0-2 against Waldron (44-32 on Nov. 11 and 41-35 on Jan. 5 in the Shelby County Tournament).
The Spartans are led offensively by a trio of players – seniors McKinley Correll (10 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3 apg and 3 spg) and Cy Stockdale (5.8 ppg, team-high 28 made 3s) and sophomore Tanna Tatlock (7.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg).
The sectional champion advances to a one-game regional, also at Southwestern High School, to face the Bethesda Christian Sectional champion. The four-team sectional features Indiana Math & Science Academy (14-10) against Traders Point (4-10) and Bethesda Christian (10-13) against Indiana Deaf (11-8).
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