BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
After a four-year varsity basketball career, Lizzy Edmonds graduated from Argos High School and now plays at Holy Cross College in South Bend.
Sophia Bollenbacher, Carleigh Miller and Allison Zahm also graduated from an Argos team that won its first sectional title in five years and added a regional semifinal win over Fort Wayne Blackhawk before falling to North White in the regional final.
But it was the 6-0 Edmonds who led Argos in scoring, rebounding and blocks.
Edmonds’ defense might be missed the most. She protected the rim in case any opponent was able to get the ball in the paint past the first line of defense.
Offensively, it’s possible that Edmonds’ loss will be less drastic. Samantha Redinger, Bella Stults and Emma Dunlap, Argos’ second, third and fourth leading scorers from last year, respectively, are back.
Argos third-year coach Scott Jennings sees Stults, a 5-9 senior, as more likely to occupy the post.
“Bella, she has gotten so strong over the summer,” Jennings said. “She put a lot of hours in the weight room. She’s going to have to help us in the post area. She’s got that nice little 15, 18-foot shot too, and I’m going to let her shoot it. If she can step out and knock those things down for us, that will be huge. It’s going to give us that extra threat on the outside, but she’s going to have to do some rebounding, she’s going to have to play some post defense for us and take up a little bit of the slack from Liz Edmonds from last year.”
Dunlap will be part of a three-guard backcourt with Redinger, a 5-7 junior, and Binkley, a 5-6 senior, to join her in a three-guard backcourt. Jennings reflected on Dunlap’s progression as a ballhandler but also said that she will not necessarily be on the point like she has the previous two seasons.
“Her first game my first year coaching, her sophomore year, we opened with Caston, and I think she had 12 turnovers down there, and I just kinda left her out there to die a little bit,” Jennings said. “But I tell you what, they’d have to put four players on her right now to get 12 turnovers. Her ballhandling has just improved so much. Her outside shot’s improved. Not so sure she’s going to be the point guard for us. I think there’s going to be times she’s going to be that guard, but I think I’ve got three guards that can handle it this year and bring the ball up and take care of it and do some things this year.”
Binkley, who transferred in from Culver between her sophomore and junior seasons and did not gain varsity eligibility in 2021-22 until the postseason, will play her first full season at Argos.
“Baleigh’s probably going to come out and handle the point,” Jennings said. “She wasn’t eligible to play last year until the sectional, and people got a bit of a glimpse of what she can do sectional and regional time. She’s going to help us tremendously. She’s probably the fastest girl I’ve ever coached. If we put the ball in her hands, it’s going to be tough to take it from her.”
Already known for her pesky defense, Redinger has added to her offensive game, according to Jennings.
“The way Sam can drive with the basketball, her outside shot … she’s got that little step-back shot now, she perfected that over the summer,” Jennings said. “She’s got some range on her, so she’s going to have some green lights to shoot the ball this year.”
The fourth senior joining Dunlap, Stults and Binkley is forward Amanda Fajardo, who Jennings said will also play an increased role after earning a starting spot late in the season.
“She came in and had tremendous sectional and regional games for us,” Jennings said. “She held some big post players down. She’s just so strong and steady under there. She’s just going to be solid for me. I think she’ll put some points on the board too. I think she’s going to surprise some people. She’s a pretty quick post player. I wish she was three or four inches taller, but we don’t have that, but she just battles.”
Junior Aleasia Sarver and sophomores Morgyn Barcus, Ava Stackhouse and Alyvia Leed could see increased roles.
“Ava Stackhouse has improved tremendously,” Jennings said. “I’m liking what I see out of her. I like Morgyn Barcus. If we need a sub for one of the guards, I think she can just pick up and carry on. And the same with Ava. I think she’s going to be able to help us in the post.”
Argos allowed 34.8 points per game last year, including 33.6 points during their five-game state tournament run. That stingy defense helped the Lady Dragons improve from nine wins two years ago to 17 last year.
Jennings said they might press and trap more this year to take advantage of their quickness. He said they are capable of playing different types of defense.
“I think we’ll be a good mix,” Jennings said when asked if the team will play more man-to-man or zone. “I think we’re going to be a little quicker team. You throw Binkley out there, and you put two post players that are fairly quick down there. I think we’re going to be quick. We’re not going to be able to rely on Liz blocking shots all the time and changing the angle of different shots. I think if we move our feet and play defense like we’re capable of, I think our man-to-man could be very effective, and I think our zone could be effective.”
They also have to replace the leadership Edmonds brought.
“Those four seniors last year … love them to death,” Argos third-year coach Scott Jennings said. “But they were awful quiet for me. You couldn’t get a whole lot out of them all the time. Liz was probably the best at communication; the other three were pretty quiet most of the time. Good workers, great work ethic. … They gave me everything they had and helped build what we've got right now. But I think between Fajardo, Stults, Binkley and Stults, my four seniors, I’m seeing a lot more communication. … So I think our leadership’s going to be good.”
Argos has added games with Mishawaka at home on Nov. 15 and West Central on the road on Dec. 19 to their schedule. They replace Jimtown and Morgan Township.
The Bethany Christian game, which was typically played in the first week of the season, has been moved to Dec. 22 and will cap off a five-game-in-eight-day stretch that also includes Hoosier Plains games against South Bend Career Academy and Elkhart Christian.
In addition to winning the sectional, Argos is also the defending Hoosier Plains champion.
Argos will also travel to face Purdue recruit McKenna Layden and Northwestern in their regular season finale on Jan. 28.
Nov. 3 – at Caston, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8 – vs. Triton, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 11 – at Winamac, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 15 – vs. Mishawaka, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 18 – vs. Trinity Greenlawn, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 22 – at Culver, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 – vs. North Judson, 8 p.m.
Dec. 8 – vs. Rochester, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 9 – vs. Culver Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 15 – vs. South Bend Career Academy, 6 p.m.
Dec. 17 – at Elkhart Christian, 2 p.m.
Dec. 19 – at West Central, 6 p.m.
Dec. 20 – vs. New Prairie, 8 p.m.
Dec. 22 – at Bethany Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 5 – vs. North Miami, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 7 – at Lakeland Christian, 6 p.m.
Jan. 12 – at Oregon-Davis, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 14 – at Pioneer, 2:30 p.m.
Jan. 17-21 – at Bi-County Tournament (field includes Bremen, Culver, John Glenn, LaVille, New Prairie, Oregon-Davis, Triton)
Jan. 26 – vs. LaVille, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 – at Northwestern, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31-Feb. 4 – Class 1A, Sectional 50 at Culver
Class 1A, Sectional 50
Argos, Culver, Marquette Catholic, Oregon-Davis, Trinity Greenlawn, Triton, Westville