ST. JOHN — Lake Central knew the turnover from last season to this one wasn’t going to be easy, especially with an early schedule riddled with state-ranked competition.
But the Indians feel like they’re building something new.
“We lost six seniors from last year, and I’ve been trying to tell these kids that Rome was not built in a day,” Lake Central coach Joe Huppethal said. “This is going to be a process. People aren’t going to remember the games in November, (but they will remember) when we get into conference play and the end of the tunnel is obviously the (postseason) tournament.”
Junior guard Taylor Jaksich is one of several players who will see their roles expand exponentially.
Jaksich scored 3 points per game, coming off the bench as a sophomore. She saw time in 10 games as a freshman, too.
“My first role (this year) is to score more, since our biggest scorers left, but also to be a bigger leader,” Jaksich said. “I’ve worked harder in practice. I’ve mentally prepared myself. I feel more confident about my shot, offense, defense.”
Jaksich lit up when asked if it felt good to get a few more shots than she has in the past.
She scored 10 points but also had six rebounds and four steals in Lake Central’s 69-37 loss to North Central Saturday. The Panthers are ranked No. 3 in the Class 4A Associated Press poll.
“As a freshman, I just kept telling her to be patient. She just kept getting better and better and better,” Huppenthal said. “I think now she’s starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel that I was telling her about. Her development has been exceptional. I think she’s got a chance to play somewhere in college, if she wants.”
Jaksich says she felt like her game made a jump place during summer travel basketball.
“I never really had a lot of confidence before this year. It just started clicking because everyone left (and I had an opportunity),” Jaksich said. “I had to step up for travel, because we lost players there, too. And (with L.C.) I have a big role.”
Captains still give pep talks and lead drills, but Jaksich said this incarnation of the Indians takes a leadership by committee approach. Everyone does their part and motivation is full-team effort.
Jaksich, personally, aims to take a greater initiative on and off the court.
“From when she came here to where Taylor is now, it’s just great, great progress,” Huppenthal said. “We’re really happy with her.”