Carroll has not had a losing record under coach Mark Redding since 2013-2014 and they’ve been able to cycle in new lineups with great success almost yearly in that time. A lot of that is because Redding doesn’t shy away from playing younger players or more energetic players.
If a player or a lineup fits, then Redding uses it to his advantage to make big pushes.
It also led Carroll to five straight Sectional championships, a streak that ended this past spring. It could lead Carroll to play with a bit of a chip on its shoulder, not liking the fact they were the team to end that streak and being willing to pull out all the stops to become a champion again.
The return of Taylor Fordyce, a two-time OTH All-Area player, is a an important first step. Fordyce averaged a team best 15.2 points game last season and became the driving force of a team that competed in the SAC every night. Fordyce is also the top returning player in rebounds (5.5) and assists (2.5).
Next to her in the backcourt is Kayla Gibbs, who has been a high level intangible player for the Chargers with varsity minutes rising yearly and her ability to respond to additional minutes and pressure has been critical. Gibbs averaged 11.6 points per game last season and led the Chargers defensively as the main pressure point, drilling out 2.8 steals per contest.
Back too is guard Jersey Paul, a sophomore. Paul averaged 4.1 points and 1.4 steals per game last season but was an important part as Carroll won four of their last six games, including 10 points and three steals in a win over Bishop Luers.
Jaiden Fuller will add depth defensively, as will Shayla Anderson who will add quickness as a defensive guard. Meanwhile Emma Wigington will provide some post presence to offset the heavy guard play
Freshman Lily George will add a post presence for the Chargers as a strong, solid rebounder. Avah Meyers is another freshman who could see time for the Chargers.
In Mark Redding we trust. Redding has shown time and time and time again that he can adapt and he thrives after having to adapt. He has done it at stops before Carroll and he continues to do it almost yearly with the Chargers.
So this year, even though there is some adaption required, Redding gets to do so with two of the area’s most tenacious and intelligent players in Fordyce and Gibbs.
We will take a Redding without major weapons most days. Give him weapons and get out of the way.
Why not higher?
The lineup needs some holes filled still. There are only really two players back who had major roles throughout last year and while those two are great players, it will take Carroll more than three to make a big impact.
Especially if coach Mark Redding wants to use any of his hockey style line changes anytime this season, the depth has to be there for Carroll. There are pieces for sure but a lot of it is untested on high levels so until we see that the depth can avoid major drop-offs, the Chargers sit high but not too high.
Freshmen and sophomores will need to step up quickly.
November 18 at Northrop
Same may say November 5’s opening game with Columbia City should be it but the Chargers probably don’t know who they are by then.
Unfortunately they will need to have an idea 13 days later when they battle SAC foe Northrop in a really quick important game. No, this isn’t must win because the SAC could be choppy at the top this season. But with former Chargers in orange and white, it is a game that will tell us a lot about how Carroll adapts.
That is going to be a key for Carroll this year, adapting quickly. If they can make waves against Northrop, it says some good things about the long season ahead.
Jersey Paul, sophomore
Not many players saw their status grow as much this summer as Paul, who was thrust into some important roles at times last season for Carroll. People don’t just know who she is after her summer progression, now Paul is firmly all over everyones radar.
And if we know anything about her heritage, we know that Paul will be an aggressor. It is how her grandpa coaches, how her dad coaches and how her older brothers played. It brought them all quite a bit of success over the years so if Paul continues to match that, she could bring Carroll some big time success too.