New x Two: Jeff High Basketball Rebounds With New Boys and Girls Basketball Coaches

Coach Melissa Voyles – Girls Basketball

Coach Melissa (Missy) Voyles took the head coaching job at Jeff High because it presented a great opportunity and a great challenge. Prior to coaching at Jeff, Voyles had coached at North Harrison. However, she wanted the chance to coach at a division 4A (the high school sports division for the largest schools) school like Jeff. She also saw the girls basketball team as a program with potential. “It’s always a program that could really be dominant,” she says.

Despite her optimism, there was a clear challenge for the Red Devils this year: injuries. Voyles said this season they had five ACL tears, one broken wrist, and two concussions. “I have never seen this many injuries,” she says. Despite these challenges she has been pleased with the level of dedication her players have shown, saying, “They play hard every day. I can’t fault them for that.” With this dedication has come improvement, according to Voyles.


Going into the season in a tough conference, and after losing a lot of senior talent last year, Voyles says, “I knew it would be a big struggle win-or-loss wise.” However, she credits her team’s leadership and hard work with their success this year, specifically, she credited Neveah Bates (junior), Baily Gibson (senior), Ajia Estes (senior), Tatum McFarland (sophomore), and Sofia Reese (sophomore) with creating a contagious positive atmosphere on the team.


For the postseason, the goal was simple for Voyles. “I want to compete with Bedford.” On Feb. 5, 2021, Jeffersonville fell to Bedford North Lawrence 62-36 in the Sectional Semi-final. Despite their season coming to an end, the Devils were able to keep the game within 10 points with the fourth-ranked Stars, until the fourth quarter.

Coach Andrew Grantz – Boys Basketball

Coach Andrew Grantz says he took the boys basketball job at Jeff High for many reasons, including “the history, the tradition, and the fan support here at Jeff.” Grantz also wanted to return to coaching in Indiana, and with the talent at Jeff High, he was excited at the opportunity to build the program.


For Grantz, the biggest difference between this job and his past coaching gigs is the community. “You know, Providence was a great place to be,” he says, “but you know with a private school, you’re pulling from all different directions.” He feels that the closeness in the Jeff High community really sets the program apart, and unlike Fort Myers, Florida (where he was for a past coaching job), basketball is a bigger deal here in Indiana.


For Grantz, his pride in his team was on display after the first semester when he learned the team had a GPA of 3.4 (highest in program history according to Grantz). For him this accomplishment was important as a coach because “they’re setting themselves up for life after basketball,” he says.


Leading up to the season, with all the confusion about COVID-19, he says the goal was simple: “Let’s just play games.” He also felt that despite the loss of a talented senior class last year, the team would be strong.


Despite his optimism, he does feel one of the major challenges was Jeff’s lack of a consistent feeder program. “Whenever I was younger there was the JYBL (Jeff Youth Basketball League), and if you look at the run Jeff had in the ’90s, that happened right after JYBL started,” Grantz says. He hopes to be able to tackle this problem, which he believes will really help the program as it has before.

Looking toward the end of the season, his goal for his team is simple: “We want to reach our full potential… if we do that or come close to that we have a chance to make a run in the postseason.” Over the season, he says the team has “had flashes of it.” But to reach his goal it’s about “putting it all together at once.”

By Max Fisher

COVID-19 Casts a Shadow Over Winter and Spring Sports Prep

Jeffersonville High School athletes are trying to keep in shape and healthy even as there are some concerns about how things will unfold this year with COVID-19.

Basketball, a winter sport, presents many challenges specific to the sport such as physical contact, touching the same ball, and being played inside. Sophomore boys basketball player Conner Lyons has some concerns but is ready to start the new season. He says his most pressing concern is “guarding people and close contact,” but Lyons’ concerns are overpowered by his drive to get back out on the court. “It’s always been my dream and that’s what I want to do when I get older,” he says. As of right now, the first game for Jeffersonville boys basketball is scheduled for December 5.

Members of the Jeff High baseball team, who have already lost their spring season this year, are trying to stay positive but realistic despite losing some senior talent. Baseball also has the benefit of being a more spaced out game that is played outdoors. Sophomore baseball player Sam Whallen isn’t getting his hopes up, saying, “we might not end up playing this season because of COVID.” The Jeff High baseball team’s first game is scheduled for April 2. 

Members of the Jeff High softball team are also trying to prepare for a spring season in 2021. Senior Danielle Monroe says the team is beginning winter workouts, which are different this year because of social distancing. Still, she feels like the effort will pay off in the spring. “I’m hopeful. I think we’ll have a season,” Monroe says. “I really hope so because it’s my senior year.”

The Indiana High School Athletics Association (IHSAA) has said the organization is committed to letting students play, saying they believe it is “essential to the physical and mental well-being of student-athletes to return to organized physical activity and build team relationships with their peers and coaches.”

Although every sport has its own precautions for the safety of players, coaches and fans, they have one thing in common: in the age of COVID, athletes are optimistic but unsure about the future.

Story by Caleb Vincent

Girls Basketball Team Wraps Up a Challenging Season With a Winning Record

The Jeffersonville girls basketball began this season with high expectations. They had all three seniors signed to play in college: Nan Garcia signing to Penn State, Kelsie James signing to IU Kokomo, and Kiersten Poor signing to Grace College. In the course of the season, both Garcia and James would fall victim to injury, taking them out for the season.

Despite this, the team was still able to come out with a 14-11 record, and they were able to reach the semifinals of the sectional tournament losing to Jennings County 52-45 on February 2. “It was a big loss losing both Nan [Garcia] and Kelsie [James] because they both had such an important role on the team,” says junior Laura Gillenwater. Despite this, she says she was “very impressed by our team though because everyone pulled it together and stepped it up.” Gillenwater chalks a lot of this success up to a strong performance by the freshmen this season. “They had to adjust quickly and learn how to play varsity basketball which they excelled at,” she says.

Sophomore Lily Haire also noted that the season was made harder by the loss of Garcia and James. She credits Senior Kiersten Poor for a lot of the success this year. “Kiersten had a major  role on our team. She was a very good leader and someone to look up to,” says Haire.

Despite their struggles this year, the girls’ basketball program has a lot of talent coming up. Jeffersonville has three of the top five girls in Clark/Floyd county in the class of 2023 according to News and Tribune in Tatum McFarland, Sophia Reese, and Cadence Singleton. These freshmen along with the returning varsity sophomores: Lily Haire, Nevaeh Bates and Olivia Clive and juniors: Alexis Gibson, Laura Gillenwater, Aija Estes and Bailey Gibson, will make a strong team looking forward to next year. 

Additional News in Sports

Following Sectionals Jeffersonville Girls Basketball Coach, Michael Warren, resigned as coach following the season’s conclusion. Warren ended with a record of 112-61
after 7 seasons as Girls Head Basketball Coach.

Chris Moore takes the top coaching spot for Jeff High Boys Basketball

New head coach has experience at the college level

 

chris-moore-coach-announcement-submitted

Moore (in blue) is announced as head coach at the GCCS board meeting on Sept. 17, 2019. (Photo: @JHSRedDevils on Twitter)

During the Greater Clark County Schools board meeting on Tuesday night, Chris Moore was announced as the new head coach for the Jeffersonville boys basketball team. Moore joined Jeff High this fall as an assistant coach. Prior to that, he coached at the college level at schools including Indiana University Southeast, Bellarmine University, the University of Cincinnati and Wright State University. Most recently, he served as an assistant coach at Southeast Missouri State. 

Because so many players who helped the team secure a 2019 sectional championship are expected to be back this year, expectations are high for the upcoming season. Moore acknowledges that taking over as head coach under those circumstances is stressful, yet exciting. “A lot of both,” he said. “I’ve taken over teams before,” he added, “but this one has the talent and potential to go a long way.”

jacob-jones-kyle-tincher

Senior point guard Jacob Jones (Photo: Kyle Tincher)

Jacob Jones, a senior point guard for the Red Devils who recently verbally committed to playing college basketball at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, is pleased with the coaching decision. “He’ll be a good coach,” said Jones. “He has a lot of experience coaching at colleges.” 

Moore holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Kentucky State University and a master’s degree in sport administration from the University of Louisville.

Moore succeeds Joe Luce, who joined the Red Devils as head coach in 2015.  Luce resigned from his position as head basketball coach and principal of the Engineering and Manufacturing Academy on Aug. 29, 2019.

sectional-2019-kyle-tincher

The Jeffersonville boys basketball team celebrates their 2019 sectional win. (Photo: Kyle Tincher)

Basketball, Swimming and Wrestling Season Previews

Girls Basketball

The Lady Devils return to the court this season with many returning players – including senior Tori Handley and juniors Nan Garcia and Kelcie James – as well as returning coach Mike Warren. Based on early successes, the team looks poised for a sectional title this year. The Lady Devils have scored 60 or more points in games that they have won this year and look to continue their high-scoring streak as the season goes on.

The Lady Devils started the season off by defeating the 16th-ranked North Harrison Cougars 66-44. “It was a big win for us after being so close in previous years,” said team captain Tori Handley.

The sectional title is particularly important for the team this year, since it was taken from their grasp by a late, game-winning shot in last season’s sectional match-up against Bedford North Lawrence. “It was a terrible feeling, but we all know our roles and what we need to do to succeed as a team,” said Handley.

Written by Braxton Troutman

Boys Basketball

Every November, if a high school basketball team has lost a lot of senior talent, people call it a “rebuilding year.” Although Jeff High lost several seniors from last year’s strong team, not much rebuilding is needed this year. In fact, the 2018-2019 Jeffersonville Boys Varsity Basketball team, under the direction of coach Joe Luce, is poised for an exciting and successful season.

For returning junior starter Trè Coleman, this season he will have to take the court without the experience of his brother Jaden Coleman and the leadership of Bailey Falkenstein, whom they lost to graduation. Coleman said he is “expecting a great season and a good run when it comes to sectionals.” The Red Devils will have eight returning players on their Varsity bench and Coleman feels like the 2019 Seymour Sectionals is a wide-open playing field. “With all our returning talent, we should consistently get better during the season and be competing for a sectional title in March.”

Written by Hannah Thibideau

Swimming

The Jeff High team is diving into another season for boys and girls swimming by getting back to their routines: morning practices, workouts, and vigorous afternoons in the pool. Their coach, Mike Pepa, couldn’t be happier with the work ethic on his team. “It’s difficult. We put in a lot of hours, probably the most hours of any team in the school,” Pepa said. “But it’s a lot of fun and good camaraderie. You’re part of one of the most successful teams in the school if you join, but it takes a heck of a commitment.”

To get to their level of expertise in their sport, they don’t take the season lightly. When the end of October comes around, the girls team starts warming up. “I’m really excited to have a great season with the girls, everyone is so fantastic and sweet,” senior Haley Vescelus said, “ we have a strong team and I’ll be sad when it’s over.”

Starting the season off right, the girls won against Bedford North Lawrence in their first meet. The boys team season starts two weeks after the girls, by the beginning of November. Both teams are in the water working to better the team and themselves.

Last year’s state qualifier, Kameron Case, has high hopes for his senior year swimming. He plans to continue his career in the pool in college. “I’m looking forward to this season,” Case said, “ I hope this year will better prepare me for college level competition.”

While the team practices for hours and days, all of that work goes toward a smaller, yet larger, goal: shaving off mere seconds (or fractions of seconds) from their time on meet days. A swimmer must rely on their own strength and put those hours of training into trying to beat competitors on the clock. “You’re always trying to beat your best time,” Pepa said. “You’re not just benefiting the team but improving yourself as well.”

Written by Haylee Hedrick

Wrestling

The Jeffersonville High School Wrestling team is coming off yet another successful season. After a phenomenal 2016-2017 season, where the team qualified 14/14 Wrestlers to Regionals, the current 2018 team has qualified 13/14 wrestlers last season. “Team 60” also had 11 sectional champions.

As the wrestlers succeed on the mat, the team also gets it done in the classroom. Last year, there were six Academic All-State wrestlers, and the team also had the top two team GPAs in the state for the past three years.

With Coach Struck coming off of his sixth sectional championship, he looks forward to the new season. “My goals only change slightly from year to year. But our vision stays the same,” he said. “My goal is to make it to state, national and international championships, but the purpose of our program is to inspire our athletes to be the best versions of themselves they can be.”

Despite losing a class of wrestlers to college, there is still a major upside for the new and improved squad. Senior wrestler Isaac Hall says, “I feel we have a really strong lineup and I think it’s going to be a shock to everyone because of how many first year varsity wrestlers we have. They just haven’t had their time to shine and I think they are going to show out in a big way this year.”

Written by Jack Ellis

Boys Basketball Photo by Kyle Tincher
Swimming and Girls Basketball Photos by Amber Rowe
Wrestling Photo Submitted