Polk County girls basketball: Young group to rely on quickness this season

Polk County head girls basketball coach Craig Culbreth plans to utilize an up-tempo attack this season. He just has to make certain to remember who’s on the floor running it.

When the Wolverines open their season Monday night at East Henderson, fresh faces will fill the starting lineup, thanks to the loss of all five starters from last season’s 13-14 squad. Nearly half of this year’s roster is comprised of freshmen and sophomores.

“We’re going to be very young,” Culbreth said. “We’ve only got two seniors on the team, and with losing all five starters it’s definitely going to be a rebuilding season.

“We’re going to have to use our quickness, as we don’t have a lot of height. It’s going to be hard for us to set back with our height and try to rebound with people.”

Polk County will also have to rely on conditioning, as Culbreth said there may be some games where the varsity roster could contain as few as eight players.

“Everybody will have to play a lot of minutes at a lot of positions,” he said. “It’s going to be a very interesting year to see how it all gels together.”

The Wolverines will return sophomore Hayley Kropp, the team’s second-leading scorer last season at almost 11 points per game. Kropp’s sister, junior Ashley Kropp, joins the varsity and is “a very good shooter,” Culbreth noted.

Senior Lyric Flood (5.0 ppg) and junior Sarah Phipps (3.0 ppg, 4.9 rebounds per game) return from last season’s squad and will anchor the frontcourt for the Wolverines.

Also returning with varsity experience are senior Janada Carson and sophomore Ashley Love.

In addition to Ashley Kropp, sophomore Savannah Ross moves up from the junior varsity squad and is expected to contribute. Freshman India Godlock will see time in the Polk County backcourt.

“This team gets along really well together, and I think that’s a good thing for us,” Culbreth said. “I do feel like we’ll keep improving as the year goes on.

“We have four returning players with varsity experience. The varsity game is a lot quicker than the junior varsity, so it’s going to take a while for those players to get used to the pace.”

Culbreth expects another competitive conference schedule, but said that’s a given in the Western Highlands Conference.

“Mountain Heritage and Avery are basketball schools,” he said. “Owen always has a big team.

“We are in one of the toughest conferences around. There are definitely a lot of good girls basketball teams in our conference.”