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Villa Grove Blue Devils girls basketball team 2021 season preview

By Tony Hooker
I met up with Villa Grove High School girls basketball coach Dan Sappenfield to discuss the 2021 season.

What was the first thought that went through your head when you heard that you were going to have a season?  Any panic that you would have to put together a plan so quickly?

I was totally shocked and so happy for all the kids! There was not any panic for the fact we have our routine and the kids were ready to move quickly into action.

What are your expectations for this season, since there is no postseason?

It will be a season that we plan to take each day as an opportunity that we were not expecting. By not playing for a conference or regional championship will make things different.  As long as they keep score the kids will continue to work hard to compete at the highest level they can.

How has your team responded to the circumstances surrounding the season?

They have been amazing!  When being told several times, we can practice and then be told we can’t. It has not altered the kids attitudes one bit.  They just want to be able to play their sports and enjoy the time with their teammates

What have been some unexpected challenges, and how has your team faced them? 

The biggest challenge has been understanding the rules we have been given.  We all know the goal is to keep the kids safe but many of the rules do not make any sense at all.  The other challenge is for the parents and not being able to go watch their daughter play but with the help of technology the games are able to be watched at home online.   

Conversely, have there been any good surprises to come out of the way this season?

Just being able to play together.

Who are your key returnees?

We lost several players from our 25-win team but we have back Kyleigh Block, Madie Burwell and Vanessa Wright.

Who are key newcomers?

We expect a lot from Kaylee Arbuckle, Hailey Stutz and Maci Clodfelder to come in and fill important roles on this year’s team.  We also picked up Malani Smithenry as a first-time playing basketball as a senior.

Is there anything you wish to add?

We are so glad to be playing and appreciate how the administration was able to put together a 16-game schedule in a matter of a few days.  The girls are playing as though each day may be the last.

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