Southern Fulton reloads with 2 strong rookies
If there's one thing Southern Fulton's basketball program is good at doing, it's reloading.
Year in and year out, the Indians' girls and boys basketball teams seem to have a rising star. Most recently, it was Macey Hollenshead then Olivia Mottern for the girls, and Connor Litton then Dylan Gordon for the boys.
And now, there's another set of freshmen who are ready to keep SF's winning tradition alive.
Lindsey Hollenshead has already earned a starting spot for the Lady Indians, while there is quite a bit of hype surrounding freshman Gabe Stotler on the boys side.
"I've always said I'll do this as long as I had kids that really wanted to work hard, and they do," said Kent Hendershot, SF's athletic director and boys hoops coach. "It's just our cookie cutter kids. We might not be the most skilled or most athletic, but they work hard. They get better all the way through, from elementary to junior high to JV to varsity."
For Hollenshead, there's a lot of weight on her shoulders with a name like that. Older sister Macey led the Indians to their best season in history when they reached the state semifinals in 2012-13, and until very recently, she was the school's all-time leading scorer.
"Basketball is definitely in my blood," Lindsey Hollenshead said. "I've had problems with that because I try to live up to all of her. But I'm working on being my own player and showing what I can do, rather than just going by what Macey did."
She's off to a good start.
While she's not much of a scorer yet at just 4.2 points per game, she knows that's not her role this season. As point guard, Hollenshead is averaging 4.2 assists per game, and she leads the team with 34 steals.
"I told her as a freshman, her job is to just handle the basketball and buckle down and play good defense," SF girls coach Meagan Mellott said. "She's responded really well, and she's been one of our top defenders this season. She's made a lot of steals, and she's crashed the boards (5 rebounds per game). She's so tall and long, and she's feisty."
Hollenshead said, "Whenever I get up to a player, I just tell myself that this player is not getting by me. It's all mental; I just have to keep moving my feet."
As for Stotler, who is the second player off the bench for Southern Fulton's boys team, he also knows his role is going to evolve over the next three years.
"Right now, whenever I step onto the court, I just have to do my job," Stotler said. "Sometimes I don't always do it, but I'm working on it. I'm still young, but I know next year, I'm going to have to step it up."
Stotler, who is expected to start for Southern Fulton's baseball team, said the youth program has been a big factor in his success. Unlike Hollenshead, who plays for the Black Rock Fury out of Hagerstown, Md., Stotler hasn't played AAU. But it hasn't seemed to matter too much.
Although Stotler missed a few games with injury, he is still fourth on the team with 6.5 points per game. He also has 40 rebounds, six assists and 11 steals in 15 games.
"I think he's going to shoot up and get longer, and he jumps very well," Hendershot said. "He probably has more athleticism than DG (Gordon) overall, but it's just green. You never know. We gotta keep him healthy, and he's gotta work and get stronger, and he'll decide how good a player he's going to be."
Regardless of how Stotler and Hollenshead's careers play out, Hendershot remains confident that there will be another youngster coming soon.
"The support we get from the community year in and year out is phenomenal, and our kids realize that," Hendershot said. "There's all those little kids watching that can't wait to be playing here, and that's part of the success that we've had and what it creates."
James Buchanan and Southern Fulton met up on Saturday evening for a girls and boys basketball doubleheader. Here are the best plays of the night.