Many people thought this would be a rebuilding year for the West Lincoln Lady Rebels. But head coach Jaime Honbaier and company had other plans. They wouldnâ€™t settle for rebuilding.
They were thinking playoffs. Thanks to strong senior leadership and the standout play of freshman Kayda Caldwell, thatâ€™s a very real possibility as the Lady Rebels head down the stretch of Southern Piedmont play.
Senior Sara Elmore is the teamâ€™s leading scorer at 12 points per game and also leads the team on the boards, raking down eight rebounds each time she steps on the court. Junior Jessie Watts paces the Lady Rebels in assists with three a contest.
â€œWe had a lot of preconceived notions from other people, but I just told them we had to prove to people that we are a better team that what they first thought,â€ Honbaier said.
And prove they have. Entering tonightâ€™s game versus Cherryville, the Lady Rebels find themselves in a three-way tie with the Lady Ironmen and Lincolnton at 5-4 in the Southern Piedmont.
Honbaier knows her team has their work cut out for them on their home floor after Cherryville about upset North Lincoln Tuesday night.
â€œCherryville is playing real good ball right now, but hopefully all the elements will fall into place and we can beat them,â€ she said.
Caldwell, whose future appears very bright, is averaging 10 points and six rebounds per game. Honbaier, who knows first-hand what it takes to be a good basketball player as a former 1,000-point scorer, sees big things in the cards for Caldwell.
â€œIf she works hard and keeps working hard on her game in the off-season, she has the potential to be a great ball player.â€
Two players who are pivotal to the teamâ€™s success are junior point guard Holly Hoover and senior Anna Knight.
â€œEven though Holly doesnâ€™t statistically, she is a true leader on the floor. She handles the ball, brings it down and does a good job handling pressure,â€ Honbaier said. â€œAnna can handle pressure pretty well too and sheâ€™s a very pure shooter. If she would look for her shot a little bit more, she would put up more stats,â€ Honbaier said of her two guards.
Honbaier feels playing the likes of South Caldwell and Fred T. Foard prepared her team for Southern Piedmont play.
â€œTheyâ€™ve grown and started to play like a team. Theyâ€™ve worked really hard in practice and played really well together in the games,â€ she said.
Now with five games remaining, the Lady Rebels find all their goals they set at the beginning of the season within reach.
â€œWe have opportunity here and if we just play our best, hopefully that opportunity and that goal will come true,â€ Honbaier said.
And what were those goals? To do well in conference, make the state playoffs and as Honbaier often challenges her team, â€˜to play to the best of their ability each night.â€™
â€œItâ€™s a great group of kids, and I hope for their sake we do well.â€
by John Mark Brooks