Have more fun. Hit the boards hard. Hover around the Metro League, and see if commotion can be caused.

The Southridge girls’ basketball team has set these three season ambitions without getting overly goal-oriented or power-hungry. Junior all-league guard Makenna Bell said Southridge didn’t set any specific priorities such as win the state championship or take the Metro League. For now, the Skyhawks and their new head coach Michael Bergmann are content with improving as a team and working together.

“We want to go as far we can by working as hard as we possibly can,” said Bell. “When people set really high goals, they’re super disappointed. But, if you make a goal that you can continuously build on and say, ‘I want to rebound better the next game and make more shots the next game,’ it’s a better goal to keep the team motivated. It’s a better team goal.”

The well-off Skyhawks have a rich program history, but haven’t won a state crown since 2010. As a young team that only has three seniors, Southridge wants to enjoy the game more on a daily basis. The hope is, playing freely and with clear minds will lead to more wins.

“We’re trying to make basketball more fun this year,” added junior post Margaret Brock. “I think that’s really helping us — just trying to make practice more fun but always have effort in practice to make sure we’re ready for the games.”

Southridge prides itself on being a squad that can beat opponents in a multitude of ways. They have two strong posts with solid footwork and skills in the 6-foot Brock and 5-foot-11 Madison Weaver. The Skyhawks can surround both their pivots with accurate shooters like Beth George, Dayna Carlson and Andie Giles, who provide proper floor spacing and outlets for Brock and Weaver to find when the inevitable double team comes. Or, Southridge can go small and deploy its quick, defensive-minded backcourt of Bell and Kaley Fieldhouse on the Metro League’s best guards and lock down the perimeter.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge senior post Madison Weaver gives the Skyhawks a strong offensive option down low.

“We call it ‘Thunder and Lightning’,” said Bell. “Thunder is kind of the slow, setup play. We try to start strong and feed it into the post. Then our lightning team is the team that presses and gets in everybody’s faces. We focus on defensive effort and sprinting down the sides. I feel like we’re going to be a really well-rounded team.”

Bell and Fieldhouse are adept at flipping turnovers into fastbreak points because of their speed, and lefty Lexie Dixon is often game at running the wing with her backcourt mates.

“This is going to be a high-energy team,” said Brock. “We’re a lot different team than we were last year. We had a lot of older seniors last year, and we’re really young this year. We have that as an advantage. We’re a fast team too.”

Against defending 6A state champion Central Catholic, Bell and Fieldhouse nearly upended the Rams with their defensive energy and relentless effort. Brock took over the second half on both blocks, displaying the type of offensive game that’s going to pile up double-doubles all season long.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge sophomore guard Rachel Machacek is one of a number of Skyhawk guards who can score off the bench and provide strong defense.

“Central Catholic is a great team,” said Brock, who scored 13 points in the second half against the Rams. “They won state last year...and we know if we can come close to a two-point game with them, we can do anything. I’m just excited to see what the future holds.”

Breaking in a number of sophomores and juniors, who saw a sparse amount of playing time last year, Southridge trailed 26-9 with 2:51 to go in the second quarter, but scratched back into contention with hustle and dedication to the defensive end. The second-half turnaround was sparked by Bell, who scored 13 of her 15 total points in the final two quarters.

“This was a really big step for us,” said junior combination guard Makenna Bell. “It was a great way to show everyone that we can do the kind of things that no one thought we could do like come so close to the defending state champions. We played well and came together.”

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