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Lapel seniors Likens, Stow building own legacy

Feb. 15—LAPEL — While some of her classmates have yet to obtain a driver's license, Rosemary Likens has had her pilot's license since she was 17 years old.

Flying solo at thousands of feet of altitude requires a steady hand and a calm demeanor. The Lapel senior is not easily rattled, a characteristic vital to being in control of an aircraft but also handy when acting as floor general for a basketball team with high expectations.

After coming off the bench for last year's state runner-up, Likens inherited the starting point guard position after the graduation of three-year starter Kerith Renihan. The two are different players, so it was important for Likens to play within herself and not try to be what Renihan was.

This was not the first time Likens had big shoes to fill. In the fall, she played the No. 1 position for the Bulldogs' girls golf team, assuming a spot previously held by two-time state champion Macy Beeson.

Likens smiled at the coincidence but, as usual, was not fazed by the situation.

"It was definitely a lot different without Macy," she said. "I haven't really thought about it."

Similar to Likens, Lapel's return to semistate has been different for fellow senior AnnaLee Stow.

She also came off the bench for the Bulldogs last season, but has been a starter this year — one of four seniors in coach Zach Newby's starting lineup. While the position changed, her role did not. She is still one of the fan favorites, firing up the crowd and the student section with her hustle, grit and the game-winning plays that make her an irreplaceable part of the Bulldogs' rotation.

Being Lapel lifers — Stow since kindergarten and Likens since sixth grade — is what makes the cheers a little louder for these two.

"My parents usually say they cheer really loud for us because we've been at Lapel for so long," Stow said. "They may not know the other players quite as well, but we've been here longer."

This year's group of seniors — including starters Jocelyn Love and Maddy Poynter and reserve Gracie Clark — are attempting to do what Renihan, Jaylee Hubble and Deannaya Haseman did a year ago.

They are trying to create their own legacy.

"When a team is successful like this team was last year, and Laniah (Wills) was the centerpiece of last year's team as well, but that was Kerith's and Jaylee's and Deannaya's team," Newby said. "That's their legacy. That's the legacy they left. It's the benefit of being a senior when you went to the state finals."

This year's mission, to return to the state finals and win the Class 2A championship, began as a mindset last February when the Gainbridge Fieldhouse clock hit all zeroes, but on the court the work started with workouts in June and has continued through a 23-4 season that included repeat Madison County, sectional and regional championships and a return trip Saturday to the Logansport semistate.

Newby said the players deserve all the credit for the efforts they've put in to get ready as well as for the intangibles that don't show up in the stat sheet.

"Both of those kids are humble and hard-working kids, and they both come from great, hard-working and very successful families," he said. "I think that plays a role in it, and they both understand that just because their names aren't in the paper or at the top of the box score that doesn't mean what they do isn't important.

"People who don't understand the game might look at them and say, 'I don't understand why they are in the starting lineup or on the floor all the time.' They don't see the little things that they do."

This postseason run is the culmination of the athletic careers for both Likens and Stow. The point guard will be studying aviation at Purdue while Stow plans to pursue an education in sonography at an undecided college.

They have a message for the underclassmen who will look to establish their own legacy at Lapel in future years.

"I think there are still a lot of good kids coming up that will have good years next year," Stow said.

"I'd say don't dwell on our success this year," Likens said. "They need to bring their own team together, do their own thing and make it their own."

Newby said this year's seniors are just the latest group to provide positive mentorship, guaranteeing continued future success at Lapel.

"Those first groups that I had — Makynlee Taylor, Delaney Peoples, Kylie Rich — they're the reason why we're successful right now," he said. "Last year, we had such great leadership, and these kids saw it."

SEMISTATE MATCHUP

The Bulldogs will face Fort Wayne Bishop Luers on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the semistate semifinal at Logansport.

Although the Knights have not been this far in the tournament in over a decade, Luers is one of the most successful girls basketball programs in the state's history. It has won 21 sectional and 12 regional championships and has won more semistate titles (nine) than any other school. It has also won six state championships — the last coming in 2011 — and Newby said this year's version poses certain problems for Lapel.

"They're big, they've got some size and they rebound extremely well," he said. "That's something we have to focus on. We have to keep them off the glass."

Luers (17-6) is led by seniors Addie Shank (13.4 points per game) and Annika Davis (10.2 points) and sophomore Miley Wareing (11.5 points). The Knights shoot just 26% from 3-point range and 61% at the free-throw line but also average nearly 14 offensive rebounds, leading to a number of second-chance scoring opportunities.

In an otherwise even matchup — both teams play strong schedules — keeping Luers off the offensive glass may be the key for the Bulldogs.

"If you're scoring a lot of points but you don't shoot particularly well, that tells me they get a lot of putbacks," Newby said. "If we can limit that, that gives us a great chance to win."

Andrean (13-14) faces Lewis Cass (22-3) in the second semifinal at noon with the winners set to meet for a chance to advance to the 2A state championship game at 8 p.m.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.