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2012-13 Winter Sports Preview: Graves starts third season at alma mater

Thursday, November 15, 2012

(Photo)
The White River Valley Lady Wolverines pose for a team photo prior to a recent preseason practice. The team includes seniors Maddy Dyer and Megan Lemmons. The roster also includes juniors Briauna George-Fisher, Brittani George-Fisher, Amy Ragle, Taylor Resler and Lexi Pearson. Also included are sophomores Jasmine Padgett, Allison Wininger, Madison Hockman, Miranda Pierce and Ashley Hooks. Freshmen on the roster include Shannon Pittman, Lexi Graves, Lilly Hancock and Rachel Woods. (Submitted photo).
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SWITZ CITY -- As native son A.J. Graves begins his third season at the helm of the White River Valley Lady Wolverines, he thinks it's time for them to take the next step.

"In the three previous years this team hasn't had a winning record," Graves said. "This year it should be a goal to win every game we can.

"There's only a couple of teams on the schedule that we should have trouble competing with -- and that's because they're 4A schools -- so there's no reason we can't go out there and win.

"There were about four or five games last year that we were in it but just couldn't get over the hump. So hopefully from taking those kinds of loses last year and bringing those girls back we can get over those humps and win."

After beginning the rebuilding process at his alma mater two seasons ago, Graves says the time is now to move past that and into the winning phase.

"The last two years we've seen progress," Graves said. "So I'm excited and the girls are excited to make progress forward."

He's spent the last two season developing the core of the team and stockpiling experience. Now he feels it's time to stop making the excuses of youth and inexperience and turn the focus on producing winning basketball.

"We can't use the excuse that we're under-experienced or underclassmen, because we're not," Graves said. "We're starting to get older now and we're going to have to step up to the plate and perform now."

The coach's eyes have noticed improvements from not just specific players, but from the entire squad.

He says there's been that transition from learning to knowing.

"It's hard to single out one person because I can see they're starting to gel together," he said. "This is the third year I've had this core group of our two seniors and the juniors.

"So I think honestly, this year we're going to put more expectations on ourselves."

One key as Graves sees it comes in whether or not the team itself will be ready to make the transition to a winning team as a whole.

"Winning is an attitude," he said. "So that's something we're going to have to turn over. Going into a lot of games we knew it was going to be a challenge just to compete.

"This year I think the challenge is going to be that we're not here to compete, we're here to win. That's going to come out of the coaching staff.

"We're going to have to try and foster a winning attitude in practice that will translate into games."

So far he says the ideas he's been distributing have been successful.

"The girls are getting after one another," he said. "That helps when you have a JV team to go against."

For the first time in his tenure Graves will have a full junior varsity squad to compliment the varsity in practice and develop players for the future, both near and distant.

"Previous years girls were going to play because that's all the players we had," he said. "Now they'll play to make the varsity better and to make the team better as a whole."

He says there's been competition up and down the ranks during preseason workouts. There's battles for almost every spot, something he's extremely glad to see.

Perhaps the most pleasant realization the coach has discovered comes in finding freshman Shannon Pittman.

She's become an inside presence for scoring, something they've not had lately.

"This year to actually be able to go inside and score baskets around the rim will hopefully open it up for our guards as well," he said. "So we're going to try to have a balanced scoring attack."

That means the Lady Wolverines will be able to move away from the recent past that has seen them limited to just one or two scoring threats.

Allison Wininger, who has been the biggest threat on the outside, returns but she will have plenty of help.

The likes of senior Maddy Dyer along with players like sophomore Madison Hockman, junior Taylor Resler and junior Amy Ragle will add to the outside threat.

"I think the key this year to us is defense," he said. "In previous years we've pretty good in defense to finish.

"But we've struggled to score is where our weak point has been. And I think that's because we've been one dimensional -- we've had only one player that could score for us.

"I think we're going to have more girls able to score this year that should help us. As long as we can keep our defense up we should be not only able to compete but to win some games this year."

2012-13 White River Valley Lady Wolverines

Varsity roster

No. Player Gr. Pos.

3 Jasmine Padgett 10 F

4 Briauna George-Fisher 11 G

5 Megan Lemmons 12 C

10 Allison Wininger 10 F

11 Madison Hockman 10 G

12 Amy Ragle 11 G

25 Shannon Pittman 9 C

32 Maddy Dyer 12 G

35 Taylor Resler 11 F

44 Lexi Pearson 11 F

Head coach: A.J. Graves (9-33, third season)

Assistant coach: Mark Graves

Junior varsity

No. Player Gr. Pos.

3 Jasmine Padgett 10 F

4 Briauna George-Fisher 11 G

12 Amy Ragle 11 G

15 Brittani George-Fisher 11 G

22 Ashley Hooks 10 G

31 Lexi Graves 9 G

33 Miranda Pierce 10 C

40 Lilly Hancock 9 C

50 Rachel Woods 9 C

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

LADY WOLVERINES

DATEOPPONENT/SITETIME
Nov. 6 North Central 6 p.m.
Nov. 13 at West Vigo 6 p.m.
Nov. 17 at Shakamak 6 p.m.
Nov. 20 Edgewood 6 p.m.
Nov. 26 at Clay City 6 p.m.
Nov. 29 Union (V) 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 at North Knox 6 p.m.
Dec. 6 Bloomington North 11:30 a.m.
Dec. 7 Eminence 6:00 p.m.
Dec. 11 at Bloomfield 6 p.m.
Dec. 13 at Eastern Greene 6 p.m.
Dec. 15 Loogootee 1 p.m.
Dec. 18 Barr-Reeve 6 p.m.
Jan. 7 Vincennes Rivet 6 p.m.
Jan. 12 Mitchell 1 p.m.
Jan. 15 at South Knox 6 p.m.
Jan. 19 North Daviess 1 p.m.
Jan. 22 at Owen Valley 6 p.m.
Jan. 24 at Linton-Stockton 6 p.m.
Jan. 30 Washington Catholic 6:30 p.m.



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