Two games into the season, Badin (2-0) already seems to have picked up where it left off in March. The Rams travel to McNicholas tonight and host Alter on Wednesday.
“To start the season, I told girls this is a new year, last year is last year,” Sunderman said. “We have to set the tone early, but we let them know it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so the important thing is that we are better prepared when making that stretch run in January and February, but that starts today. We’ve got to get back that swagger back that we had in the postseason, get better defensively and get that team chemistry where it was because that was the key to last year.”
Sunderman is confident in the senior leadership setting good standards for the underclassmen after seeing what transpired just a few days after the end of last season.
Less than a week after the loss to Carroll on March 5, guard Mahya Lindesmith, now a senior, gathered up her teammates for offseason workouts. A group of players met regularly through the spring and summer for a full program that went beyond just shooting around together.
“The girls see what we had last year, and they are not satisfied at all,” Sunderman said. “The drive is there, and Mahya is a big part of why the offseason workouts were as beneficial as they were. It’s about how the seniors react, how they set the tone for the underclass because it doesn’t say senior or junior on the jersey, it says Badin. They have to have the same goal, and that starts with the seniors.”
Lindesmith led the Rams with 13.9 points and 2.6 assists per game last year, while classmate Jada Pohlen added 11.1 pounds and 7.8 rebounds. Sunderman said Pohlen, one of the most competitive players he’s coached, also will be an important leader this season as someone who is “not afraid to push the right buttons to get players in the right spots.”
Badin graduated its next two scoring leaders in Lizzie Meyer and Maddie Thompson, but both had missed six games or more because of injury or illness and their absences gave others opportunity to step in. That experience proved valuable and gave the Rams more depth, which helped in their postseason run.
Morgan Dixon, Lauren Grawe, Erin Beeber, Ella Mangino and Lauren Christie also return after regularly contributing last year. Abby Leis, who played junior varsity last season, also is providing a lot of energy and could be a big addition to the bench.
“We had the players to make the run last year, but now we are an even bigger target especially after returning 80 percent of roster,” Sunderman said.
Both Lindesmith and Pohlen are back at the top of the scoring through the first two games with 19.5 points and 14.5 points, respectively. While that’s a good sign, Sunderman is looking for the defense to take a big step forward this season.
The Rams are a little more athletic than last year, so they will continue to push the court and try to use that to their advantage to create more turnovers. The full-court press was good in a 55-20 win over McAuley last week, but the half-court defense needs to be better, Sunderman said.
Sunderman has been pleased with the start overall, especially considering the Rams only had about 40-50 percent of the roster back before the first week because of postseason runs in the fall sports. That wouldn’t have been an excuse anyway.
“Last year with all the quarantines and COVID issues, we didn’t cancel a game,” Sunderman said. “We were set on getting in 22 games, so no matter how depleted we were going to be, we were playing. That taught us ‘next person up. If we’re shorthanded, we have to rely on the next person,’ and they responded. That helped our depth and that taught us not to make excuses. Everyone else was in the same boat last year with quarantines, etc. The fall sports at Badin had so much success this year, we’ve kind of said instead of making excuses of why we’re not where we were last year, let’s feed off the success of fall sports and get better each day. They’ve embraced that.”
TOP AREA PLAYERS TO WATCH
Veronica Allen, Ross senior guard
Kylee Fears, Talawanda junior forward
Madison French, Lakota East junior guard
Keira Gregory, Lakota West senior forward
Jayden Isaacs, Hamilton senior forward
Breyel Kidd, Fairfield junior guard
Mahya Lindesmith, Badin senior guard
Madalyn Mahoney, Fenwick junior guard
Jessica Moore, Edgewood junior forward
Kylie Wells, Madison sophomore forward