Sparta girls basketball overcoming multiple injuries to key players

Underclassmen credited for stepping up during first 12 games

Sparta girls basketball has faced a ton of adversity early, missing three starters to injuries, including senior Laney Schell to an ankle sprain.

In their absences, junior Callie Ziebell has led the way, averaging a double double, but she’s the only Spartan putting up at least 10 points a game. With all the injuries, plenty of sophomores have had to play meaningful varsity minutes.

“It’s been tough,” head coach Tracy Lindley-Schendel said. “Having a senior in Laney Schell get hurt early on in the season has definitely been a hit, but we said all along, now it’s time to be resilient.”
“A couple of our girls, even underclassmen, have really stepped into the part of being a huge communicator and helping girls out when they need it,” Schell, who returned to the court Tuesday, added. “You’re going to see us flow a lot better. With Payton [Jones] and I being out, some girls had to really figure it out, and they have. I think that’s going to help completely with running offense and defense.”

The coaching staff credits junior Kennedy Stuessel and sophomore Taneea Henderson who’ve really made the most of their minutes. Coach says Stuessel has taken it open herself to be more of a leader on defense and directing traffic.

Henderson comes from a military family and has lived in Texas and Guam before coming to Sparta this year, and she’s fit in right away, averaging almost nine points a game and leading the team in assists per game.

Coach has been impressed with the young players and says the team can turn a corner for the second half.

“Once we get these girls back, I think you’re going to see more leadership, more aggressive play, and quite frankly, the chemistry,” Lindley-Schendel said. “Getting that senior back on the court with the teammates. Having those injuries has made everybody come together. We’ve been family. That’s what we’ve preached from day one. We step on the hardwood, we’re family, any differences aside, and we take care of each other. A lot of these girls have stepped up in a big way.”

That theme of family is also literal for Sparta this season, because coach’s younger sister Kayla, who graduated from Sparta, has joined the program this year as assistant coach.

Sparta next hosts Onalaska Friday night.