KENDALLVILLE — The East Noble girls basketball team has been putting in the work this offseason.
Something that has become tradition for the Knights over the past three summers, the 10,000-shot challenge has been a way for the team to work on their shot-making, something that has been an issue in recent years.
This past summer, the players have made over 177,000 shots, according to third-year EN head coach Shawn Kimmel.
“All five returning varsity players saw 20-plus minutes per game and racked up a lot of starts for us,” said Kimmel, who is in his seventh season overall as a head basketball coach. “However, these ladies have drastically improved their ability to get to the rim and this team is going to compete for 32 minutes, shoot the 3, attack the basket and defend with a new passion.”
The shots made in the offseason and in practice is expected to translate to games, says Kimmel, as the Knights averaged just 30.8 points per game on offense (lowest mark since 2010-11) last season, only getting to 40 in their four victories (4-17 a year ago).
The best thing the Knights have going for them this year, however?
The Knights only lose one senior to graduation, Kyndal Mynhier, though she was the team’s leading scorer at seven points per game.
Looking to step into the starring role Mynhier left, seniors Kya Mosley (3.6 ppg, 3.4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal per game) and Bree Walmsley (5.7 ppg, 3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1 spg) and junior Bailea Bortner (6.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.4 rpg) come back as returning starters.
“Starting with Bailea, over the past three summers, she has made 35,000 shots,” Kimmel said. “She doesn’t even think about it anymore. She’s a girl that hit six in a game last year and all the time in practice, and every time she passes up, I always tell her that there’s only one way to hit seven.
“Kya hit 10,000 shots for the first time this summer and it’s made a difference in her free throws and scoring underneath the bucket,” Kimmel continued.
After East Noble’s season opening game with Westview on Nov. 4, Kimmel said that while the stat sheet didn’t show it, Walmsley is a player who’ll control games and be vocal on the court in managing plays.
Five-foot-7 junior Payton Quake (3.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.4 spg) is the team’s fourth returning starter and will see lots of playing time, as well as sophomore Taylor Eggering (2.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 bpg), the team’s fifth returning varsity player who saw 16.1 minutes per game last year.
“Bree, Kya, Bailea, Payton and Taylor are all seasoned veterans now and all five are determined to right the ship,” Kimmel said.
Sophomores Ella Edwards, Megan Seymour and Rae David will see playing time on both junior varsity and varsity teams after all three saw varsity minutes last season.
A key newcomer for the Knights is 5-8 freshman forward Addison Deming, who is the team’s fifth starter and had five points, four rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in the opener against the Warriors.
“The sweet thing about Addison is that she’s going to be a stat stuffer for us,” Kimmel said. “She’s going to finish the game with five or six points, four or five rebounds, two or three assists, two or three steals and a couple deflections. She’s just a really great all-around basketball player for us.”
Other newcomers rounding out the varsity roster are junior Lexie LaLone and freshmen Kate David and Macey Colin. The three will compete for varsity minutes while David and LaLone will spilt time between junior varsity and varsity.
While the Knights don’t have a lot of size this year to compete in the post, Kimmel still has high expectations for his team.
“I tell the girls all the time in practice, we may be the best small 4A school team in the state,” Kimmel said. “If we had a 6-2 or 6-1 girl underneath the paint that we could throw it to, people would look at us a lot differently.”
Kimmel continued, “Our margin of victories is going to be very close. Our goal is to get into the fourth quarters of a lot of games, wear people down and win at the end with our defensive approach.”
The Knights added one game to their calendar this year, a Jan. 10, 2023, meeting with Wayne in Kendallville.
In the season opener against Westview, the Knights started the year with a 53-37 victory.