SESSER — At most places, losing four starters, including two starting in junior college as freshmen, would mean a rebuilding season.
For the girls basketball team at Sesser-Valier-Waltonville, it merely means new faces continue the winning.
The Red Devils upped their record to 11-0 on Wednesday night in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage, an 84-15 Black Diamond Conference West rout of overmatched and inexperienced Trico.
Coach Rick Metcalf got playing time for all 16 players before the first half ended. Ten players scored, paced by 18 points and 11 rebounds from sophomore post Carlie Page. Sami McCowen added 13 points and six assists, while Paige Tucker contributed 12 points and Peyton Wilderman scored 10 in a reserve role.
S-V-W, now 4-0 in the conference, scored the game’s first 25 points. The Pioneers (2-9, 1-4) didn’t score until a putback by Kristyn Reiman at the 6:31 mark of the second quarter.
Starting three freshmen and a sophomore, Trico was ill-equipped to deal with the Red Devils’ mixture of talent, athleticism and fundamentals.
“We fundamental people to death,” said Metcalf. “In the summer, we drill over and over and over until we get it down. Then we move on to the next thing. When the season comes, you’re ready to go. I don’t believe in just rolling the ball out and letting them play. You’ve got to have a purpose.”
A team can be unsound fundamentally and win games, but it’s a bit like eating a five-course meal without silverware. You will get full, but you’re also going to make a mess.
Even as the margin mounted into the 50s and 60s, S-V-W kept making crisp passes around the perimeter, aggressively guarded the ball and looked for bodies to check out when shots went up. Metcalf is unapologetically old-school and his teams reflect his belief.
In particular, McCowen is an extension of her coach. Most Metcalf teams have been blessed with good point guard play. McCowen, the lead guard for the last 70-plus games, might be the second-best point guard in southern Illinois behind Harrisburg senior Lotte Miller.
“I let her call her own sets,” Metcalf said of McCowen. “If she feels something, I let her call it. It’s like having a quarterback out there.”
The Red Devils canned 47 percent of their field goals, hitting a total of seven 3-pointers. It is that kind of perimeter shooting Metcalf hopes to see more of as the season progresses. He likes just about everything else from his side.
“I really didn’t expect to be 11-0, but we’re just getting better every game,” Metcalf said. “We’re playing a lot of sophomores and a freshman at crunch time. We lost a lot of production, but our kids know when their number is called, they’d better be ready to play.”