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Lady Vikes set to start 2019-20 season

CAPTAINS: Seniors Meg McDonald and Bayleigh Double will serve as team captains for the Huntington North girls basketball team in the 2019–20 season.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

Effort, energy and enthusiasm. According to new Huntington North girls basketball head coach Matthew Hinds, those three things can be expected of his Lady Vikes throughout the 2019–20 campaign.

With a new bench boss and a relatively young lineup, this season’s Vikings look for a fresh start after a 7–15 record in 2018–19. But, despite the changes this year’s Lady Vikes face, Hinds is pleased with the progress he has already seen.

“We are probably a little ahead of where I thought we might be at this point,” Hinds said. “We need to continue to ‘win’ practice each day by controlling what we can control: attitude, energy, effort, etc. … I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to lead this program and to go on this journey with these kids each day. They have truly been a blessing to me and my family. I’m looking forward to growing together this season!”

Just five of Huntington North’s 12 rostered varsity players saw notable playing time last season, including this year’s two seniors, Bayleigh Double and Meg McDonald.

Hinds has already seen the duo’s leadership in action leading up to the campaign and appreciates what they bring to the team both on and off the court.

“I can’t express enough how grateful I am to walk into a new situation and have them lead us as seniors,” Hinds said. “Both will be captains for our team and they were unanimously voted by their teammates and coaches to be in this situation. That shows the respect that their teammates and coaches have for them. They are high-character kids and will each play an important role in our team’s success this season. The growth that both of them have displayed since last spring has been amazing. I have seen them become more vocal; their energy and encouragement to teammates are amazing. I’m lucky to have them as seniors.”

McDonald finished third on the Lady Vikes in scoring last season with 107 points, adding 48 rebounds and 25 assists to her totals as well as 12 steals and two blocks.

Though Double did not receive a substantial amount of playing time last year, the guard managed nine points in her junior season and is expected to play a bigger role in 2019–20.

Joining the senior duo as notable returners this season are junior Reece Colclesser and sophomores Leah Campbell and Addy Wiley. Each of the three played significant roles for the 2018–19 Lady Vikes and are again expected to be big factors in the team’s success this year.

Colclesser enters 2019–20 as the reigning point leader for Huntington North, as her 122 points last season placed second behind 2019 graduate Maddy Robrock, who is now donning the green and white for Huntington University. In addition to her 122 points, the guard’s 11 three-point conversions led Huntington North, while her 19 made free throws placed second on the team. Colclesser also grabbed 59 rebounds and handed out 33 assists throughout the season, while leading the Vikings with 32 steals.

Wiley scored 64 points for Huntington North, adding 71 rebounds and 36 assists to her season showing. Wiley recorded 13 steals and five blocks on the defensive end for the Vikings as a rookie last year.

Campbell scored 86 points, but was a key cog in the Viking offense’s ability to move the ball, as she led Huntington North with 63 assists. Campbell also reeled in 47 rebounds to go along with 27 steals and one block as a freshman in 2018–19.

Though those five players seemingly form this year’s core, Hinds emphasized there will not be an emphasis on any one player this season.

“I’m not sure we have one ‘go-to’ player this year,” Hinds said. “The thing that could be a really positive thing for us is that we have quite a few players that we can count on, and if each kid executes their role, we will have a pretty good chance to be competitive with about anyone we will play. Our ‘go-to’ player is truly the team.”

Joining Campbell, Colclesser, Double, McDonald and Wiley on this year’s varsity roster are juniors Katelynn Arnold, Lily Clanin, Addison Dennis and Grace Gross, sophomores Chloe Kauffman and Grace Sell and freshman Taylor Double.

Though the group will have varying roles, Hinds expects there to be solid competition on the roster for playing time, noting a starting lineup has yet to be decided.

“Our starting lineup could change as the year goes on, and, although we don’t have a set lineup at this point, I would say there are six or seven kids that are still battling for our starting spots,” Hinds said. “The great news is that we are in a situation where every kid in our program is going to have the opportunity to play at some level, whether it be varsity, JV or freshmen.”

Hinds shared the team’s identity on the court will include a motion offense that takes great shots, attacks the basket and tries to get to the lane and a man-to-man defense that communicates and keeps opponents out of the lane while trying to contest as many shots as possible.

Though this year’s season may be viewed as a bit of a building year, Hinds believes in his group’s ability to be competitive and stay positive no matter what circumstances they find themselves in.

“I expect our team to compete in every situation,” Hinds said. “There will be games when we feel good and that ball is going in the basket, and there will be games when it doesn’t. I expect our team to rise to every occasion and situation, to focus on the process in whatever situation we are in at that moment and to do it together. Last, I expect our team to #believe in each other and in the system when things are good and when we struggle because our true growth will come from the adversity we face if we continue to #believe.”

Huntington North’s 2019–20 campaign kicks off on Tuesday, as the Lady Vikes head to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, for a non-conference battle against Snider. Opening tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Two games later, the Vikings will open their home slate, hosting Southwood in North Arena on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.