Every high school basketball team in Indiana has been affected by the coronavirus at least once this season.
For some, it has been players in quarantine. For others, games have been moved, canceled or postponed due to an opponent having a covid issue.
And then there is South Side.
The girls’ program has battled multiple all-team quarantines, injuries and growing pains this season. The lack of lower-tier teams (South does not have a JV or freshman squad) within means that players are asked to mature quickly, something easier said than done.
Add it all together and the Archers will play just 16 regular-season games on the year, with all of its non-conference contests from Jan. 2 on canceled.
“It definitely has been the most challenging year I have had here with all of the things that have happened,” said South Side coach Juanita Goodwell after a 51-36 win over Wayne on Saturday. “Dealing with Covid immediately after our first two games of the season put us in a funk right off the bat.”
South Side (9-4) was sidelined from Nov. 14 to Dec. 4, not just missing out on games, but valuable practice time. The situation was the same from Jan. 2-22, a near-three week stretch in while the Archers did not play a game and had few practices.
“Our key word has been adversity for this year, it surely has taken a toll on us as individuals and as a program,” Goodwell said. “The last (quarantine) really hurt, because it happened as we were set to face the tougher part of our conference schedule.”
Senior Lamyia Woodson has missed several games due to an injury, costing the Archers their most-productive inside presence. Woodson appears to be back at full strength, with a 12-point effort against Wayne on Saturday. But as has been the case all year, the Archers seem beset to face some sort of challenge all year. While Woodson is back, leading scorer Olivia Smith is currently out due to quarantine. The expectation is that she will be back for the postseason, but she is sidelined for some of the team’s biggest league games against the likes of Carroll, Concordia Lutheran and Homestead.
Goodwell has challenged her younger players to step into roles that were unexpected when the season began. While some have a ways to go according to Coach Goodwell, one player who has come through is Annika Davis.
The freshman had a career night against Carroll last Friday in dropping 27 points, then followed it up by leading all scorers with 16 points in the win over the Generals.
“I am very proud of Annika, she has been stepping up and has been a really good player for our offense,” Goodwell said. “I just need to see that from a couple other players.”
South (9-4) will face a three-game week to close the regular season – with Concordia, Homestead and Bishop Dwenger all in a span of five days. While most coaches are coy about what they hope for in a sectional draw, Goodwell is not.
“This week will be all about growth, and we hope for a friendly sectional draw because that will be a game where we will have our full team again,” Goodwell said. “Without much practice time once we work Olivia back in, we hope we don’t have a big game early on (in the postseason).”
With the way the year has gone for the Archers in terms of luck, nothing would surprise Goodwell and the Archers at this point.