GIBSON CITY — The timetable hasn’t changed.
“From the start (of the season), we looked at this as a two-year plan,” Fisher girls’ basketball coach Ken Ingold said.
A girls’ basketball team that was underclass-oriented when the season began became even more youthful when the lone senior left the team recently to prepare for the indoor track and field season.
“We’re trying to mix the pieces together,” Ingold said.
The process is going smoothly.
Fisher never trailed in Tuesday’s Heart of Illinois Conference game at rival Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley and reached the .500 mark (7-7) with a 48-16 triumph.
“We’re getting better and starting to show some good signs,” Ingold said. “I thought we turned the corner Saturday when we won at PBL, against a team that had beaten us earlier.”
Caitlin Cole, a 6-foot-2 junior, is a big part of the turnaround. She spent the second quarter on the bench with two fouls, and Fisher’s 17-6 lead after one quarter dwindled to 20-14 at halftime.
She returned in the third quarter, when the Bunnies went on a 23-0 run, and sat out the fourth quarter after the lead reached 29 points.
Cole hit 5 of 7 shots and scored 11 points in two quarters.
“They have a great inside/outside combination,” GCMS coach Kyle Bielfeldt said. “They exploited that on us in the third quarter.”
While Cole draws attention close to the basket, junior Sydney Blackwell operates in space on the perimeter. She nailed four third-quarter three-pointers — two coming within 13 seconds of one another — and totaled a game-high 17 points. Blackwell was 5 of 5 from beyond the arc.
“She’s the reason the game got where it was,” Bielfeldt said. “We left her open in the third quarter, and she buried them.”
Part of the plan, Ingold said, is to get Blackwell the ball in positions where she can be dangerous and effective.
“We talk about hitting her with a pass where she can catch and shoot,” Ingold said. “When she’s in rhythm, she’s a good shooter.”
Another player who stepped into the limelight, Ingold said, was junior Olivia Heffernan.
“Olivia did a great job running our offense and providing leadership,” Ingold said. “She was a real spark plug.”
Cole continues to be a player that opposing coaches must try to neutralize. In the past year, Ingold has seen her make significant strides.
“The biggest difference is she runs the court better,” Ingold said. “She’s 6-2, but she’s pretty fast. Her hands have been solid, and we’re working on her footwork.
“With the way she can run, rebound and help on defense, I think she’ll be a good college player.”
Junior Hannah Varner led the Bunnies with six rebounds.
“Hannah has been playing well lately,” Ingold said. “We have to keep trying to get better. We’re taking it one game at a time. I still feel it’s a two-year plan.”
Sophomores figuring more prominently into the Bunnies’ rotation are Kelcie Fredrickson and Rachel Tobeck.
GCMS, playing its seventh game without injured senior Katie Massey (bruised shin), was led by senior Kayla Oneal with four points and junior Emily Elder with six rebounds.