Juanita Goodwell is hopeful the old “third time's the charm” saying is true. The South Side girl's basketball coach led the Archers to their third sectional title in her four years at the helm Saturday night.
In the previous two years to the regional level, though, South Side came home with a loss in the first game.
Goodwell gets her third chance at a regional win in the IHSAA Class 4A Kokomo regional as No. 11 South Side (21-3) takes on No. 10 Westfield (21-2) at 12 p.m. tomorrow. The other semi-final pits No. 16 Snider against No. 4 Logansport at 10 a.m. with the finals scheduled for 8 p.m. that evening.
“We just want to be there (in the regional final); we want to get past the first round,” Goodwell said. “In my trips, we went to regionals and we never got past the first round. That's our goal, that's our focus and that's what we are trying to do.”
To do that the Archers will have to control the pace against Westfield. South Side's offense averages almost 64 points a game, good for the 15th best offense across all classes, but Westfield has held teams to 38 points a game.
This is especially critical as Westfield's height could give South Side issues in a half court game. Three players are over six feet tall on the roster, compared to none being over 5'11” for the Archers.
“We run a lot, so hopefully that can help us a lot, and we'll probably just have to go inside and get their bigs, get them in foul trouble,” senior Arianna Simmons said. “We're going to need intensity and hustle and good defense and communication against their bigs.”
Seeing tall players and a challenge across the court won't be new for the Archers this year. South Side played one of the most challenging schedules in the state this season. The schedule included No. 1 Columbus North and No. 2 Bedford North Lawrence. Against Columbus North the Archers lost by 22 points and then lost by 24 against Bedford, the first 20-point losses South Side has had since the 2009-10 season. The humbling games helped motivate the Archers, though, and realize the team they wanted to be Goodwell said.
But the stiff competition wasn't the only aspect of the schedule that could help the Archers in the postseason
“We've only played five home games this season out of 24 games,” Goodwell said. “That's also been preparation for this tournament as well. To be playing away, to be playing at somebody else's court, to be playing with other potential adversities, and I hope that experience will help carry us through.”
South Side also boasts experience on its roster fortified over multiple seasons with three senior starters. These seniors, just like Goodwell, have only been a part of regional losses.
“It was a hard end last year, how we lost in the first game by a few points (67-68 to Snider), but this year, we are going to be ready and fight to the end,” Simmons said. “It's a big motivation, and it pushes us to go harder and to try and further ourselves through the whole thing this year.”