FORT WAYNE – Normally it’s the father handing the car keys to the son. But when it comes to the Canterbury girls basketball team, it’s the other way around. And the car happens to be a Bentley.
Scott Kreiger, who coached Canterbury to four Class A state championships in the last five years, took over the coaching duties for Canterbury’s boys this season. And in his place stepped his dad, Wayne, a veteran coach in his own right.
There is a lot of experience, which is a good thing, said Wayne Kreiger, who has 520 victories as coach at Columbia City.
We have a lot of talented kids that I’ve been blessed to have in taking over for Scott. It’s a group that I have worked with for two years, obviously having been an assistant for him.
So it remains to be seen whether it makes a difference which Coach Kreiger is at the wheel.
In the past six seasons, the program has won 138 games and lost 19. This year should be no exception, since most of the roster is back from last year’s 25-2 team that not only won the state title but also had an average winning margin of nearly 30 points. Offensively, Canterbury averaged a state-best 81.5 points and also held its opponents to 51.9.
In 5-foot-9 senior forward Bailey Farly, 5-10 junior forward Kindell Fincher and 5-5 sophomore guard Darby Maggard, the Cavaliers have arguably three of the area’s top players.
Farley averaged 18 points and 7.5 rebounds last season, Fincher averaged 21 and 12, and Maggard averaged 17 points and 4 assists.
In addition, 5-9 senior Aaliyah Gaines returns with averages of 11 points and 5 rebounds.
That confidence in one another has helped them be able to look at this group as a team, Wayne Kreiger said. That’s what we’ve talked about. Our motto is individuals play the game, and teams win championships.’ I think they understand that.
Whether the Cavs can match last year’s 25 wins remains to be seen.
Canterbury has three Class A teams on its schedule and has six games with Class 4A teams scheduled, including season-closing road games against Hamilton Southeastern and Carmel.
We obviously are going to bring everybody’s best, Wayne Kreiger said. Everybody’s going to bring their best against us, and that’s going to be something (where) they can put a feather in their cap if they beat us.
Other area teams to watch could be Tippecanoe Valley and Whitko.
Valley was 15-6 last season and returns Danielle Bussard, who averaged 4 points and 3 assists last year.
Whitko lost four starters from last year’s 9-13 team but has a wealth of experience returning in six letter winners.
Senior Cagney Craig averaged 7 points, 2.1 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals for the Wildcats.
Jordan Hall, a 6-foot junior, and Bailee Juillerat, a 5-10 junior, give Whitko credible size.
One of the top players back is Wawasee’s KiLee Knafel. As a junior last year, Knafel averaged 24.4 points, or 56 percent of her team’s offense.