By Chris Chaney
With three of their toughest opponents at the top of their schedule, the Amelia Lady Barons had a tall task facing them as they wrapped up preseason practices. And although they lost those first three games, Amelia has bounced back to steady the ship and seems poised to make their recent winning ways the norm.
“Starting with Georgetown and Western Brown, they were two of the toughest teams that we were going to face, so I was happy about facing them, although it’s hard,” head coach Tara Kaiser said. “It’s hard to start the season with teams like that, but if you approach it the right way, you get better for playing them and I think that has showed.”
Following the opening two losses to Georgetown and Western Brown, Amelia got their first taste of Southern Buckeye Conference newcomers Norwood, who turned out to be another difficult test for the Lady Barons.
After three games with no wins, Amelia knew that they couldn’t afford too many more losses if they wanted to compete for a league championship. However, their brutal early-season schedule wouldn’t get much easier as they had to travel to New Richmond and face off with the Lady Lions.
“I think (what we learned from the first few games) showed especially against New Richmond,” Kaiser said. “We got a really big win over them, 40-30, and then beat Aiken before losing a close game to Milford and finally beating Goshen on Saturday (Dec. 15), so I’m happy about (how we’ve bounced back).
“Our kids are improving at a nice rate. We’re developing our shooters and I just hope it keeps getting better.”
Through the ups and downs of the first three weeks of the season, the Lady Barons have seen their core of leadership emerge and take control of some games.
Amelia has five players who give the Lady Barons consistent output game in and game out, led by freshman MacKenzie Hultz, seniors Danielle Lang and Cassidy Bailey and juniors Elise Whitesell and Madison Terry.
“Elise Whitesell came over as a transfer from McNick and she’s filled in nicely,” Kaiser said. “She’s had some good games and she’s coming off of a really good game against Goshen.
“MacKenzie Hultz is a freshman who has played for me since she was in second grade. She’s a great shooter and she’s going to be a great basketball player. She scored 20 against Milford, so that was big,” the coach continued. “Madison Terry is our point guard and is really starting to shoot pretty well. And inside we have Danielle Lang and Cassidy Bailey who are good rebounders and just good inside players for us.”
All five players average at least seven points per game and lead the team in at least one statistical category. That mixture of talent spread throughout the team is what Coach Kaiser hopes will lead to more wins in the coming weeks.
The Lady Barons have a pair of games on their schedule before the calendar turns over into January, including one game against a conference opponent, Bethel-Tate. From there, the Lady Barons go nearly the entire month of January without facing a league opponent before they face off with Western Brown on Jan. 24 for the second time.
“We’re looking to finish above .500 and hopefully shoot for, at worst, second in the league,” Kaiser said. “We just have to keep taking it one game at a time.”