South Side girls hoops has built a tradition of winning, but last year was wildly successful even by their lofty standards.
Twenty-three wins and SAC Holiday Tournament and sectional championships highlighted the 2017-18 campaign for the Archers. But graduation of some key pieces of that team has the roster set to look a lot different.
Shamari Tyson, Mikeba Jones, Taniece Chapman and Shamari Jackson are all gone. Collectively, the quartet averaged 44.8 points per game, about 68 percent of total team scoring. With that production gone, South will need a youthful group to step up significantly.
“If you look at the bench we had last season, if a couple of those girls were given more playing time, we would have seen a lot of growth,” South Side coach Juanita Goodwell said. “But in their roles they were able to give us a few good minutes or a quarter and a half. With that experience we will see what they can do (this year).”
Helping the Archers’ cause is the fact that their floor leader (and sole returning starter) is back. Junior point guard Jaci Jones averaged 10.1 points and 3.6 assists as a sophomore. Her dribble penetration prowess is one of the best in the conference and opens up a myriad of options for her teammates. However, Jones is still nursing an off-season injury and may not be ready for the start of the year at Cathedral on Saturday.
“It was hard for Jaci to make that adjustment with (point guard) Shamari Tyson coming in last year,” Goodwell said. “To be able to give up the ball and do what was best at the time for us without any grievance was something she embraced.”
Fellow junior Alaya Chapman will play a bigger role after averaging 5.4 points per game last season. The forward was second on the team in rebounding at 3.9 a contest.
Lamyia Woodson showed flashes of what she is expected to develop into as a freshman last year. The 6-foot-1 center dropped 20 points on South Bend Washington in mid-November while also having double-digit efforts against Bishop Luers, North Side and Northrop. But the second half of the season saw the freshman struggle to find her place within a team loaded with scoring options.
“The growth for Lamyia was just confidence,” Goodwell said. “We need her to be a bit more versatile on the inside for us. She is strong. She wasn’t fully engaging all of her strength in her performance last year.
“The work she has done (in the offseason) has been impressive.”
One of the top freshmen in the area will suit up for South in Olivia Smith. The guard was part of a team last summer that played in the Jr. NBA World Championships in Florida. Expect Smith to hit the ground running as a major contributor.
“Olivia is a spitfire, she is just energy,” Goodwell said. “She has had exposure to so many different things, but she is still just a freshman. There are still things she is not aware of at the high school level.”
After a pair of seasons that saw the Archers lose a total of 21 games, South ascended back to the elite of the area last year. While South doesn’t have much in the way of a proven senior class, there is a wealth of talent among the underclassmen.
Why not higher?
This feels like a team that will need some time to find itself. So much was lost to graduation that there will be a natural progression as new players step into vacant roles.
The Archers may have some hiccups early, but by the end of the year should be one of the best teams around.
Jan. 4 at Homestead
The Spartans enter the season as the team to beat in the SAC, with South Side and Bishop Luers among the squads looking to challenge them. Fresh off a potential matchup in the SAC Holiday Tournament, this game early in the new year could end up deciding the regular-season championship in the league.