Confidence helps Lady Indians bounce past division rivals
After a wavering start to the season, it appears that Indian River High School’s girls’ varsity basketball team is finally catching their stride. Their two wins at the start of the season were followed up by three straight losses before they went 1-1 at Lake Forest’s Pat Borowski Classic. But in their last two games, the Lady Indians put up convincing wins over divisional opponents, Laurel and Delmar, to advance to 5-4 on the season, and not a moment too soon.
“It’s all a matter of having our girls believing in themselves,” said Indian River head coach John Frye. “They’re really playing with heart. We’ve had good practices, and when the game comes around, they are playing as a team now. Before, I’m not sure they were trusting each other, or themselves. You’ve really got to come out and play with heart and have that confidence.”
Sisters Keiosha and Keeonya Shelton led the Lady Indians in their 60-45 win over the Wildcats of Delmar this past Friday, Jan. 6. Keiosha Shelton sank 21 points and went 11-14 from the free-throw line, while both Keeonya Shelton and senior co-captain Destiny Blake made 15 points apiece and shot a perfect 5-5 from the foul line.
After the first quarter, though, the Wildcats held a two-point lead. Indian River closed the gap in the second quarter, but at halftime, they still trailed by a point.
“We knew we had to turn it on in the second half,” said Frye. “We came out ready to play and outscored them 20-5 in the third quarter. Everybody stepped up. When Chanel [Handy] got into foul trouble, Francesca [Lanuza] stepped up for us.”
The third-quarter performance proved to be too much for the Wildcats, who possessed a better record, overall, than Indian River.
“You could tell that Delmar was getting frustrated,” Frye noted. “Their girls were getting a little chippy, and they were trying to intimidate our team. They were being very physical against us, and our girls realized they had to step it up a notch. That just turned us on some more.”
Though the Wildcats were at 6-3, Delmar’s three losses have come at the hands of Southern Henlopen Division rivals, which keeps Indian River in the hunt. The Indians have dropped only one division game, which came in mid-December against Seaford. But the Blue Jays succumbed last week to Lake Forest, which breathes life back into an Indians’ team that currently sits in a tie for the division lead.
“From here,” Frye said, “it’s a matter of playing with confidence – something we didn’t have earlier in the season. When teams see how we did against Seaford, they know that we’re beatable, and they’re bringing their best game. But our girls are finally starting to step up when they need to. We’re moving the ball, forcing turnovers and playing smart basketball. We’re not as frantic as we were at the start of the season. When we play frantic, it throws everything off. But now, everyone is going all-out.”
The Lady Indians were set to head to Polytech this Thursday, Jan. 12 (after Coastal Point press deadline), where they will play their third game out of six consecutive division match-ups. Then, they’ll play host to Lake Forest and Milford through next week.
“We have to continue to play aggressively,” Frye said. “In each game, we have to look at who we’re playing and what kind of team they are. Polytech has some shooters. We don’t want to give them time to set up, so we can’t lay back in the zone. We’ve got to pressure them and make them earn their shots. However you look at it, it’s all about defense.”
As the Indians close in on the season’s midpoint, Coach Frye said he hopes that the worst is behind them, and that they can continue their quest to earn the division crown for a third season in a row.
“There’s still a lot of basketball to play,” he said. “Polytech’s going to show us a good game. There’s no such thing as a gimme in this division, but I think we’re turning that corner that we need to, as long as we play with confidence.”