Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

March 4, 2014

Young Giants continue growth

By Jeff Robison Flyer Correspondent
Hendricks County Flyer

---- — Though the win total for the 2013-14 Ben Davis girls’ basketball team stayed at 12, coach Joe Lentz ended his third season feeling good about the Westside program.

The Giants finished the season at 12-9. There were disappointing losses, like the team’s two blowouts against a Lawrence North squad that finished the year atop the state Class 4A poll. But there were also solid wins, especially on the road, and that is something Lentz will take away from the season.

“Beating Pike and beating Carmel at Carmel were nice wins,” Lentz said. “We were kind of up and down in our productivity. I was certainly pleased with our effort at the end of the year as we grew and learned what it takes to play at our level of competition.”

This year’s win total allowed Lentz to reach a personal milestone with his 300th career head coaching victory, that came against neighboring Avon.

With a roster that was filled with underclassmen, there was no doubt senior center Danielle Cuttino was the team leader.

Cuttino was an Indiana Junior All-Star last summer, and despite choosing a volleyball career at Purdue, she still averaged a double-double (12.1 points, 10.2 rebounds) and blocked almost three shots per game.

“I think Danielle Cuttino has a shot at making the Indiana All-Star team,” Lentz said. “I spent all four years coaching her, as the JV coach when she was a freshman and three years on varsity. That is a rarity to spend all four years coaching the same kid. She is a fine young lady, and she will do super at Purdue as a volleyball player and student.”

The team’s other senior, Adaleena Sibande, only spent one year with the Giants, but was the team’s best outside shooting threat. Sibande’s efforts on the floor may not have been as important as her efforts off the court.

“Adaleena was a big contributor,” Lentz said. “She has done so well in her growth since entering Ben Davis, turning her life around. We’re thrilled with the transition she’s made.”

Without Cuttino and Sibande, the cupboard is far from bare next seson. One thing is certain, starting berths for next year are not reserved for returnees.

Sophomores Ae’Rianna Harris, Savannah Davis, Shelle Daniels and Taylor McDaniel, and junior Kenisha Jones, will have to step into bigger roles for the 2014-15 Giants to succeed.

Harris, the top returning scorer, will be expected to show her skill development next year, especially given the early verbal commitment she gave this year to Purdue.

Daniels and Davis will be lead candidates to work next to Harris in the front court, while starting guards Jones and McDaniel can use the offseason to work on offensive skills that are a little behind their current defensive abilities.

“We began to show a lot of maturity that I hope will carry into next year,” Lentz said. “I think we laid the groundwork for that. We had a lot of sophomores play a lot of minutes, but that could be a bright spot for the future.”

Lentz will not hesitate on where the returning girls need to focus.

“We need to work harder on our intensity levels in practice so we can get better for games,” Lentz said. “We’ll work on outside shooting. I’m convinced that if we’d just one consistent outside shooter that we would be still playing (this year). The door is going to be open for whoever works the hardest and gets the job done.”