ANGOLA – The air is crisp, chilly Autumn rain falls from the sky and the clouds block out any semblance of sunlight. Some would say it is perfect…ick, football weather.
Those people are wrong. Those attributes mean it the best time to move on inside as girls basketball teams from across the state kicked off their season with the first official day of practice. And the, dare I say, favorites on the Northeast Corner Conference did so early, with a 9 a.m. practice in Angola.
Talk about being excited to get going on the new season.
“That is the best part of the year. The only good thing about the cold weather in Indiana is the fact that it is basketball season,” Angola coach Brandon Appleton said. “All the time you put in during the offseason, you finally get to come out here and put it to work and see what we can make out of the next group of girls.”
The Hornets opened up their practices during their Fall break, allowing them to break into their routine earlier than most other area squads. The Hornets are a defending Sectional champion, falling last season to Marion in the Regional final night game at Columbia City despite a stunning performance from now junior Hanna Knoll. They will be the early favorites in the NECC, coming off a combined 19-2 record in the conference during the last two seasons, finishing second place both times.
“All of the work over the summer, we kind of get to put it in play now and I am excited to see where we stand now,” Knoll said.
Kickoff of the season is a favorite of mine, obviously, but you could tell that the excitement was radiating through the Hornets as well early on a Monday. The group moved with enthusiasm, senior Janna Fee led with emphatic orders during stretches and warm ups and the smile across Appleton’s face gives good vibes for the season to come in Angola.
Even with Angola’s volleyball team still playing, including key basketball component Kayla Fenstermaker, Bounce was happy to get into the gym and see the work that Angola was ready to put in. That volleyball success could to help carry over to basketball season as the school’s athletic programs continue to show that Angola may be a semi-hidden gem on the area landscape.
What pushes that notion? That on the basketball court, there is no such thing as a break during ‘fall break.’
“Everybody else has time off, but we are going to be here,” Appleton said. “I will be here 9 to 2 today just working on kids with basketball with kids coming and going so we will see a lot of kids today.”
Angola kicks off their season on November 5 as they host New Haven.