Bunnies try to close with bang

FISHER — To say coach Ken Ingold's Fisher squad has a daunting slate to conclude the regular season would be an understatement. Ridgeview, Heyworth and Eureka are all teams that have been seen in the Associated Press voting conversation throughout the season, and the Bunnies will face the trio between Thursday and Feb. 1.

But Ingold is more concerned about making sure his girls are prepared for these foes than worrying about how well their Heart of Illinois Conference opponents have played.

"We went through kind of a lull," Ingold said of his Bunnies, who sit at 12-12 on the season. "We did not have a good holiday tournament over at Bismarck. Then the first couple games back from winter break, I didn't think we were where we needed to be from a rebounding standpoint, and from a hustle and effort standpoint."

Though Fisher posted a 2-2 mark in the recently finished McLean County/HOIC Tournament, Ingold said he witnessed far better execution and effort from his squad. That's an especially positive observation given the construction of the Bunnies' roster.

Ingold helms three seniors and no juniors, meaning several sophomores and freshmen are earning key varsity minutes. While Alivia Spenard, Becca Clanton and Karissa Fredrickson have stepped up as the veterans, sophomores Sidney Hood and Daneigh Burk have also catapulted themselves into the key player conversation for Fisher.

"We've had to grow up a little bit," Ingold said. "And I think in these next two weeks, we can grow up even more. The young kids have gotten so much better as the year has progressed, so I think we're going to be in pretty good shape."

Ingold's next goal for the Bunnies — which he hopes can propel them to some surprise results in the next handful of days — has three facets, and they're all intertwined.

First, he wants his athletes to focus ample energy on playing strong zone defense. That can lead to the second point, which is improved rebounding. That, in turn, can create the type of offense Ingold believes his team thrives on.

"We can do things with the transition game because we've got speed," he said. "Most of the games where we've shot 20 free throws or more, we've been successful. A big goal is to get to the free-throw line and convert some free throws."

clikas@news-gazette.com

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