Region Roundball Review

March, 1999
News & Updates


Welcome to the news area of the Region Roundball Review. This page will be updated as information becomes available. Please note that not all links shown here will stay active indefinitely. Many links are to daily on-line publications that change or remove links from their sites on a daily basis. For your convenience, you can use the calendar at the right to access news for a particular day.

If you have any news about girls basketball in the Region or around the State, please e-mail us with your information and we will include it here. Thanks. 

March, 1999
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News thru Wednesday March 31

The Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association (ICGSA) has released its entire roster of All-State First Team picks for the 1998-1999 season. They are as follows:

Jackie Campbell, Chesterton
Jeanette Gray, Valparaiso
Emily Butler, Center Grove
Cortney Cooper, Martinsville
Tia Davis, Kokomo
Shyra Ely, Ben Davis
Elizabeth English, Rushville
Jill Hartman, Evansville Memorial
Jenna Hayes, Indianapolis Roncalli
Kennitra Johnson, New Albany
Kourtney Mennen, Clinton Prairie
Sara Nord, Jeffersonville
Kristy Thomann, North Vermillion
Amy Zercher, NorthWood

Connersville standout and 1999 Miss Basketball April McDivitt is suspiciously missing from this list, which we found in The Times, but we will try to confirm her status with regard to the ICGSA picks. Most likely she is an MVP pick for 1999 by the ICGSA, if such an award is made by that organization.

According to the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, Homestead coach Dave Rarick has resigned from his 2-year post as head girls basketball coach, citing that he was frustrated by the external problems that developed with the program. Although his team went 16-5 and won a conference championship this season, the Spartans failed to win a sectional title in 1999. Homestead will be looking for its fifth girls basketball coach in seven years.
With the end of the college season just a few days old, the college coaching merry-go-round will be kicking into high rotation as a number of coaching positions are expected to be filled and vacated in the next few days and weeks. This will have a tremendous impact on the recruiting of high school players, some of whom have been waiting for coaching appointments to be made before committing to a particular college program.

Of course, the biggest question in the NCAA right now is who will fill the shoes of departing National Champion Purdue coach Carolyn Peck. Several names have been tossed out as solid contenders over the past few months and weeks, including Indiana State coach Cheryl Reeve, Evansville coach Kathi Bennett, Virginia Tech coach Bonnie Henrickson, Tulane coach Lisa Stockton and Colorado State coach Tom Collen, who is a former Boilermaker assistant. That appointment should be announced soon as Purdue would like to settle the status of interested recruits and start planning for next season. It is believed that Purdue already has lost several recruits due to the status of the coaching situation there, including Kennnitra Johnson of New Albany, who decided to go with Connecticut although she had hoped to stay closer to home at Purdue.

Also, Pat McKee of the Indy Star is reporting that the appointment of Butler coach June Olkowski as the new head coach at Northwestern will be officially announced today. Northwestern's Kristina Divjak (Lake Central) who red-shirted for the 1998-99 season with an injury, has one year of eligibility left and will play her last year of college ball under Olkowski. Also, NorthWood senior Natalie Will and Emily Butler of Center Grove, who both signed letters of intent last November with Northwestern, will play under new coach Olkowski during their first year of college basketball. Olkowski's change of assignment now creates another Division I coaching vacancy in Indiana, making a total of three with the other two vacancies at Purdue and Ball State.

The on-line articles continue to cover NCAA National Champ Purdue. Again we pass on some of the best to you here:

Logansport Pharos Tribune "Lady Boilers Lived Real-Life Fairy Tale" - Lots of great quotes from Stephanie White-McCarty, Kelly Komara (Lake Central) and Assistant Coach Kerry Cremeans about the conversations taking place on the sideline during White-McCarty's injury and Komara's part in the win.
Indy Star "Douglas a part of Purdue's second-half turnaround" - Describes the role Katie Douglas (Perry Meridian) played in bringing home the win in the second half of the championship game.
Indy Star "Boilermakers pause to savor dream season" - An overview of the final game and 1998-99 season, as well as a small look ahead at next season's Purdue team.

An interesting article is appearing in the Evansville Courier about the difficulty a good number of college seniors will face as they hope to enter the professional ranks of the WNBA. With the demise of the ABL, the competition for coveted WNBA playing slots will be extremely tough, even for some of the best college players. With the uncertainty of the WNBA situation, Stanford coach Tara Van Derveer is telling her WNBA-hopeful players to "Get your degree." (Not bad advice in any situation.) The WNBA is expected to expand the league in 1999 by four teams now that the markets for certain cities with ABL teams have opened up.
News thru Monday, March 29


Former Indiana high school girls basketball players contributed big in the NCAA Championship win of Purdue over Duke yesterday evening in San Jose. Stephanie White-McCarty (Seeger) kept the Boilermakers in it in the first half, and Katie Douglas (Perry Meridian) played strong throughout and scored big when it counted to help secure the win. Candi Crawford (Homestead) gave good sub minutes, and Kelly Komara (Lake Central) stepped in during the last four minutes for injured White-McCarty to score 1 point, make 1 assist, and strip the ball right out of the hands of 6'6 former Purdue-player-turned-Blue-Devil Michele Van Gorp for an insult-to-injury steal in the last minute of the game. Not to mention the ongoing contributions other former Indiana high school players Connie Murdock (S. Bend Clay), Mackenzie Curless (Martinsville), Beth Lapaiche (LaPorte) and Mary Jo Noon (Jeffersonville) made during practices and key game moments throughout the NCAA Touranment and season. What a great statement for Hoosier high school girls basketball!!!

Today, it's all Purdue, and rightly so. There's a great deal of on-line coverage of Purdue's NCAA National Championship, but we list below only those items we felt were the most interesting:

Mercury Center Complete coverage of the championship and semi-final games of the NCAA Final Four in San Jose from top to bottom and from left to right. Lots of great articles, photos and audio.
Mercury Center "With go-to player down, Purdue reaches to another" - Ann Killion, Mercury News Sports Columnist, describes Stephanie White-McCarty's injury and how Ukari Figgs responded to that situation with her play. Also some quotes in there from Brent McCarty, Steph's husband.
USA Today "White-McCarty injured in her final game" - The drama behind the senior's injury with 4 minutes to go in the game is described.
Post-Tribune Purdue overcomes sluggish first half for title victory over Duke - Post-game interview with Kelly Komara, inlcuding quotes from Ukari Figgs and Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors.
Ft. Wayne News Sentinel "Purdue's together for game tonight" - An article from last week about how Carolyn Peck convinced all of her players to take on different roles to become a total team. Discusses Candi Crawford (Homestead) and her move from a starting role last season to a supporting role this season.
San Francisco Examiner "Enjoying the total experience" - Commentary by columnist Lynn Knapp about the behind-the-scenes attitudes and clowning of Purdue and Duke players after the semi-final victories by both teams.

While searching for on-line coverage of Purdue's championship win this morning, I came across a special tribute to Stephanie White-McCarty at the Lafayette Journal & Courier web site. This special section includes favorite moments in White-McCarty's career as related by fans, friends and teammates, a photo section (including a photo of Stephanie on her wedding day in a flowing white gown and a basketball in her hand instead of a bouquet), career stats, and more "Steph stuff". Lots of fun reading and viewing.
The Times out of NWI is carrying an article about a little-known player and coach from Lowell, Indiana, that holds an historical place in Purdue and women's college basketball in general. Amy Ruley, a 1974 graduate of Lowell, was the first woman to score points in a Purdue women's college game, and is now coaching at North Dakota State, a Division II school. As a coach at NDS, Ruley has amassed 5 National Division II championships, including 4 in a row. Interesting to know that some of Purdue's tradition in women's college ball is seeded right here in Northwest Indiana.

News thru Sunday, March 28

As you may have read at the Fifthquarter site, a move to merge that outstanding site and the Region Roundball Review will be made sometime before the 1999-2000 high school basketball season. We welcome Randy and Mike Beckett, creators of Fifthquarter (the original web site covering Indiana girls basketball only) to our RRR "family" so to speak. All of the details for the combining of our two sites have not yet been completely hammered out, but the attempt will be to bring all interested girls basketball fans the best and most continuous coverage possible. Welcome aboard Randy and Mike! We look forward to working with you.

The Goshen News has released its picks for the Goshen All-Area Girls Basketball Squad. Included on that list are seniors Natalie Will and Amy Zercher of NorthWood, Chakiea Jackson of Elkhart Memorial, Amy Saal of Elkhart Central and freshman Shanna Zolman of Wawasee. You can read the season summary pertaining to each of these players in the related linked article.
Former Lake Central standout Kelly Kuhn, now a freshman at Butler, was named to the Midwest Collegiate Conference All-Newcomer Team. Kuhn averaged 10.6 points and 6.8 rebounds during her first year of college ball and finished out her season with 24 points and 18 rebounds in an MCC Tournament loss to Detroit.
During her four-year career at Villanova, former Boone Grove star Jenn Sliwa finished in that university's top 20 for career scoring with 927, and 11th in rebounds with 486. Sliwa started 55 of 57 games the last two years and averaged 8.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game for the .500 Wildcats. She also was second for the season in 3-point field goals with 46. Jenn's younger sister, freshman Kim Sliwa at Boone Grove, is following in her big sister's footsteps. Kim was the Wolves' leading scorer for the 1998-99 season.

News thru Saturday, March 27

The Post-Tribune has selected Valpo's Jeanette Gray as its pick for NWI Player of the Year awards. Gray, who will be playing for Valparaiso University next fall, led her inexperienced team to an 18-3 season with 18.4 ppg and 8.3 rpg. Although not expected to dominate this season with a roster of new players, the Vikings were consistently ranked as one of the top teams in the state and went 12-0 to start off the season, mainly due to the leadership and play of Gray. The Post-Tribune also named its First and Second Team selections as follows:

Post-Tribune All-Area First Team Post-Tribune All-Area Second Team
Jeanette Gray, Valpo
Jenny DeMuth, Highland
Jackie Campbell, Chesterton
Kristin Cheairs, Gary West Side
Abbey Coons, Hobart
Erin Jedlikowski, Portage
Tracie Mezera, River Forest
Erica Martin, Kouts
Cathy Herring, Hammond Morton
Jen Bayer, Lowell
Kara Austgen, Andrean
Joann Smith, Hammond Gavit
Kimberly Smith, Gary West Side
Meghann Sullivan, Andrean
Natalie Yudt, Portage
Sarah Zondor, Crown Point
Lauren Julian, Hobart
Erin Sampsel, Valpo
Jamie Gutowski, Andrean
Christy Poparad, Chesterton

Valpo's Jeanette Gray played in the South Bend Tribune Girls Basketball All-Star Game on Thursday night and walked away with MVP honors for the All-Area Team with 16 points (7-8 from the field, 2-4 from the line), 9 rebounds and 2 assists. The All-Area team defeated the All-Metro team 80-72. Chakiea Jackson from Elkhart Memorial, who led all scorers with 22 points (8-23 from the field, 1-2 from the line), 2 assists, 2 steals and 4 rebounds, was named MVP for the All-Metro team. You can read a second version of the game in the Warsaw Times.
The Ft. Wayne Senitnel has named DeKalb's Maria Recker as it's Ft. Wayne Area Player of the Year. Recker, who will be playing at Michigan State next fall, averaged 18.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. The Sentinel has also announced its All-Conference and All-Area Teams. Making the All-Area list are the following:

Megan Eckert, Manchester
Sarah Gordon, Prairie Heights
Rachel King, Bishop Luers
Maria Marchesano, Elmhurst
Brooke Minniear, FW Snider
Connie Meyers, Columbia City
Maria Recker, DeKalb
Kate Rolf, Carroll
Sara Schaefer, Bishop Luers
Brieann Starkweather, Whitko
Amy Waugh, Homestead

According to the Lafayette Journal and Courier, Lafayette Jeff junior Suzie Hammel, who was recently named to the Jr. All-Star Team Core Team, has transferred to Lebanon High School to join up with her brother and dad. Hammel's dad, Jim Hammel, had been let go from his position as head boys basketball coach at Lafayette Jeff early in the school year and found a new coaching job at Lebanon. Suzie Hammel has stated that she is making the transfer to spend the last few months of school with her brother Scott, who will be going off to college next year.
News thru Friday, March 26

The Times of NWI has named Chesterton senior Jackie Campbell as NWI Player of the Year. Campbell averaged 18.1 ppg and 5.1 apg this season and totaled 1,210 during her four-year high school career under dad and coach, Jack Campbell. The Times also named Susan Sanders of Kouts and Al Detterline of River Forest as NWI Co-Coaches of the Year. First and Second All-Area Teams were named by The Times as follows:

Times All-Area First Team Times All-Area Second Team
Jen Bayer, Lowell
Jackie Campbell, Chesterton
Kristin Cheairs, Gary West Side
Abbey Coons, Hobart
Jenny DeMuth, Highland
Jeanette Gray, Valpo
Susan Hay, Munster
Cathy Herring, Hammond Morton
Stacy Jones, Bishop Noll
Lauren Julian, Hobart
Erica Martin, Kouts
Tracie Mezera, River Forest
Meghann Sullivan, Andrean
Natalie Yudt, Portage
Shannon Wells, Merrillville
Melanie Brumbaugh, Hanover Central
Stephanie Gill, Munster
Jamie Gutowski, Andrean
Tiffany Humphrey, Hammond
Erin Jedlikowski, Portage
Katie Julian, Hobart
Christy Koby, Hanover Central
Kristi Koselke, North Newton
Kim McGinley, Morgan Township
Lori Moore, Lake Central
Michele Pickering, Portage
Erin Sampsel, Valpo
Kimberly Smith, Gary West Side
Joann Smith, Hammond Gavit
Sarah Zondor, Crown Point

On April 10, the annual East-West Northwest Indiana All-Star Classic will be played at East Chicago Central High School, showcasing senior girls and boys basketball talent from the Region. The Michigan City News Disptach is reporting that Michigan City senior Jessica Yagelski is one of the players who was selected by the media to play for the East Team, which is comprised of players from the Duneland and Northwestern Conferences, as well as River Forest and Lake Station. When we get a complete list of the players selected to play in this event, we will post it here.
Senior Jessica Cox of Plymouth is being featured in yesterday's preview article to the 1999 South Bend Tribune All-Star Girls Basketball Game, played last night at Bethel College. Cox, daughter of Plymouth coaches Dave Cox (varsity head) and Karen Cox (freshman), will play at Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Connecticut, next fall.
The Region papers are giving lots of press to the two NWI standouts who will be playing in tonight's semi-final round of the NCAA Final Four in San Jose. As we reported earlier in the week, Purdue freshman Kelly Komara (Lake Central) and Louisiana Tech senior Monica Maxwell (East Chicago) squared off once before for a chance at all the marbles. The Post-Tribune is carrying a more detailed story about their earlier meeting in the Gary West Side Regional in 1995, when Komara and the Lake Central Indians came out on top to advance in the IHSAA State Tournament. Also, The Times is giving some equal press to Monica Maxwell in today's edition after covering Komara and Purdue most of the week. Maxwell is on a mission, and you can read her philosophy about approaching tonight's matchup with Purdue.

News thru Thursday, March 25

According to the Michigan City News Dispatch, Chesterton senior Jackie Campbell has been named by the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association (ICGSA) as a First Team All-State selection. Campbell will attend Colorado State University next year. We will try to track down the complete ICGSA All-State list and post it here when we get it.

According to the Warsaw Times-Union, Whitko girls head basketball coach, Ray Davis, has resigned from his coaching post. Davis coached at Whitko for 5 years and although his team went under .500 with a 10-11 record this season, the Wildkats did log a win against the traditionally strong Warsaw girls basketball program for the first time since 1981.
The local newspapers are carrying some interesting stories about former Indiana high school players who will be playing in the upcoming Women's NCAA Final Four. The Times has a great article about Purdue tough-as-nails sophomore Katie Douglas and the role she plays for the Lady Boilermakers. Purdue freshman Kelly Komara is continuing with her series of diary entries about the NCAA tournament for The Times. Also, the Post-Tribune is carrying a reflective piece on the state of the women's college game and where it stands.
With the NCAA Women's Final Four set for this weekend, the Mercury Center web site is carrying some very interesting articles about the women's college game and how it is different today from 20 years ago. They cover some interesting topics, including the characteristics of today's college game and players, and how the recruiting process has really intenstified for college coaching staffs. This is some great reading for those high school players who are set on playing college ball and are looking for ways to increase their chances for a scholarship.

News thru Tuesday, March 23

It will be deja vu all over again, although on a much grander scale, for Purdue's Kelly Komara (Lake Central) and Louisiana Tech's Monica Maxwell (East Chicago) when they meet in the second semi-final game of the San Jose NCAA Final Four on Friday. In 1994, two teams in NWI were in the national spotlight with No. 2 and No. 3 rankings in USA Today. Those two teams, East Chicago and Lake Central, boasted the likes of Tenille Adams and Maxwell for EC, and Kristina Divjak, Leslie Rossa, Denise Szany and little 5'4 freshman Komara for LC. After a regular season win for EC over the Indians in front of 6,000+ fans, the two teams met again in the finals of the Gary West Side Regionals in February. The game was extremely close, but Lake Central pulled away in the fourth quarter when EC tired late due to a tough early game, and the Indians won the Regional and a shot at the 1994 State Championship, which the Indians eventually won. On Friday, Komara and Maxwell will again go head-to-head for a shot at a championship game, but this time a game of the highest caliber -- the national NCAA Championship.

Who would have guessed it back in 1994?

Kelly Komara was a busy girl one year ago at this time. She had intended to a go to the NCAA Final Four at that time, but a last-minute phone call from some folks in Indianapolis sent her on a detour to pick up the No. 1 All-Star jersey. She never did make it to Kansas City, but she's making the trip this time -- and she won't even have to pay to get in. You can read about Komara's trip to the Final Four in the Post-Tribune.
As reported in The Times, Valparaiso Head Coach Greg Kirby has been selected to serve as Head Coach for the 1999 Indiana All-Star team this summer. He served as assistant coach for the All-Star Team in 1993. Assistants this year will be Kim Bilskie of Twin Lakes and Linda Bamrick of Indianapolis Cathedral.

News thru Saturday, March 20

Lowell senior Jennifer Bayer, known in NWI for her dominating and creative post play, will be attending Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. After narrowing her choices down to Army, Georgetown (Ky.) and Wheeling Jesuit, Bayer selected Division I Lafayette for its outstanding academic programs. Bayer is second in her graduation class with a 4.121 GPA. You can read about Bayer's choice in The Times.

Post-season honors continue to be awarded, with the following appearing in a number of publications yesterday and today:

Duneland Athletic Conference - Coaches in the Duneland Conference selected the All-Conference Team for 1999 on Wednesday. Portage had the greatest number of players named, including two who will be returning as seniors next season. The selected players are as follows: MVP Jackie Campbell (Chesterton), Jeanette Gray (Valparaiso), Abby Coons (Hobart), Sarah Zondor (Crown Point), Shannon Wells (Merrillville), Bridget DeCordial (LaPorte), Erin Sampsel (Valparaiso), Michelle Pickering (Portage), Natalie Yudt (Portage), and Erin Jedlikowski (Portage).

Chesterton High School - Jackie Campell, MVP; Christy Poparad, Annie Ray, Bridget Schwoegler and Megan Smith shared most improved; Annie Ray, mental attitude award.

Michigan City News Dispatch All-Area Teams - FIRST TEAM - Jackie Campbell (Chesterton), Janice Belzowski (New Prairie), Jessica Yagelski (Michigan City), Amanda Warnke (River Valley) and Bridget DeCordial (LaPorte); SECOND TEAM and HONORABLE MENTION selections can be viewed in the Michigan City News Dispatch.

South Central High School - Hannah Herrold, MVP and tied most rebounds; Tarah Kitchell, best offense and tied most rebounds; Tabitha Kitchell, best defense; Randi Webb, mental attitude; Amber Oneal, most assists.

Northland Conference - Tarah Kitchell (South Central) honorable mention All-Conference; Melinda Cuff (South Central) All-Conference Academic.

The Miss Basketball mystery will be solved as of midnight Saturday, when the results are considered available for release. At least two sportswriters are giving the scoop on their votes for Miss Basketball and the All-Star Team. Mike Moffett and John Estridge at the Connersville News Examiner give their picks and supporting arguments. Guess who they picked for Miss Basketball??? ;-)
NWI girls basketball ambassador, Kelly Komara of Purdue, is sharing her thoughts on the NCAA tournament in a series of diary articles in The Times.
News thru Thursday, March 18

The Indiana Jr. All-Stars, who will practice and compete against the Indiana All-Star Team in June, was announced in the Indianapolis Star yesterday. Locally, only junior Natalie Yudt of Portage was named to the North Team. (Last year three NWI players were named to the team, including Jeanette Gray, Jackie Campbell and Kristin Cheairs.) The North Team will play in an exhibition game against the 1999 Indiana All-Stars (composed of all seniors and yet to be announced) either on June 16 or June 23. The Jr. All-Stars roster is comprised of 18 players from around the state. Those players are placed on one of three teams: the Core Team, North Team or South Team. The Core Team will play in both exhibition games in June, and the North and South Teams will play in only one of the June games. According to Pat Aikman, Indianapolis Star All-Star Game Director, a representative group of girls basketball coaches selected the Girls Jr. All-Star team on March 7 in Indianapolis. The girls were then contacted for availability through their high school coaches. The complete roster of the Jr. All-Star Team is as follows:

Core Team - Lindsey Secrest (Bloomfield), Sara Nord (Jeffersonville), Shalicia Hurns (Broad Ripple), Jennifer DesJean (Perry Meridian), Connie Myers (Columbia City), and Suzie Hammel (Lafayette Jeff). These girls will play in both June exhibition games.

North Team - Anna Waugh (Franklin), Julie Johnson (Homestead), Sara Strahm (Ben Davis), Lindsay Galbraith (Anderson Highland), Natalie Yudt (Portage), and Andrea Milliser (Rochester). This team will play in only one June exhibition game.

South Team - Kristi Holloway (New Washington), Lynne Johnson (Corydon Central), Melissa Merkel (Northeast Dubois), Abby Scharlow (New Albany), Megan Mauck (Boonville), and Fabrianne Perez (Bedford North Lawrence). This team will play in the other June exhibition game.

Jr. All-Star Coaches - Connie Garrett, Clinton Prairie; Rick Marshall, North Knox; and Jeff Edwards, Morgan Township.

Other post-season honors are being conferred upon players in NWI and around the state as follows:

South Bend Tribune All-Star Teams - Metro Team MVP Jackie Batteast (SB Washington), Area Team MVP Natalie Will (NorthWood), Area Team Member Jeanette Gray, (Valparaiso), and other players honored as shown in the S. Bend Tribune (alt. link). The Metro Team and the Area Team will play in the 13th Annual South Bend Tribune All-Star game on Thursday, March 25 at 7 p.m. at the Wiekamp Center at Bethel College.

LaPorte High School - MVP Bridget De Cordial, most improved and freethrows Alaina Neff, leading rebounder Lara Clarkson, mental attitude Sasha Miller and most assists Lisa Tegt.

All-Three Rivers Conference - First team: Megan Eckert and Jessica Hicks (Manchester), Abby Wilson (Northfield), Andrea Monroe (Oak Hill), Andrea Milliser (Rochester), Brooke McKee (Southwood), Rhonda Doud (Tippecanoe Valley) and Brianne Starkweather (Whitko). Remaining conference honors are shown in the Miami County Life.

Hobart senior Abbey Coons brings the ball up
the court under heavy pressure while Hobart
Coach Phil Misecko watches on.
(Post-Tribune photo by Jen Friedberg)

Senior standout guard Abbey Coons became the Hobart High School career scoring leader this season with a total of 933 points, breaking Hobart's previous girls record of 840 points. Coons recently was named to the Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 100 seniors in the state, and will be attending Notre Dame University, where she will attempt to walk on to the women's basketball team there. Coons has a good chance of filling a need for the Irish, who had some difficulties this season at the point guard position due to injuries and lack of depth. During her senior year, Coons averaged 15.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.1 steals per game.

The girls Tournament of Champions will be held at Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University in Indianapolis on Friday and Saturday of this week. Champions 2A Luers and 3A NorthWood will play first at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, followed by 1A Clinton Prairie and 4A New Albany at 8:45 p.m. The winners of those two games will meet in the championship game on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. Although this year's TOC is expected to be more competitive than last year's at all levels, it is being predicted by some that this one will be the last, as the IHSAA is expected to drop the tournament next year. According to a source in New Albany, ticket sales there are very slow for the TOC with only about 100 tickets sold, compared to 2,000 sold for the state finals. Conflicts with the boys tournament and spring break are possible reasons given for the slow ticket sales. The value of the TOC has been argued and questioned over the past two years, mainly due to the fact that it extends the season too long for participating teams. Sustaining the mental attitude to be competitive in the TOC is greatly hampered by the extended celebrations of state championships the week after the state finals, and rightly so. An interesting article covering the issues of the TOC as they apply to NorthWood appears in today's Elkhart Truth.
There is an interesting article about 4A State Champion New Albany Coach Angie Hinton appearing in her hometown local newspaper, The Corydon Democrat. Hinton, who brought her No. 1-ranked team to NWI in January for the Crown Point Classic, has a fierce competitor streak which she successfully relayed to her state championship team.

News thru Wednesday, March 17

All members of the girls basketball coaching staff at LaPorte High School have announced their resignations from coaching for a variety of reasons. Head Coach Mark Wilson is looking to pursue other interests, while Assistant Coaches John Dearing and Janie Ulmer wish to spend more time with their families. During Coach Wilson's 5-year tenure, the Lady Slicers gained a tremendous amount of respect as a program, which is quite an accomplishment considering the fact that LaPorte is a member of the tough Duneland Athletic Conference. You can read more about the coaching staff resignations and the LaPorte team at the Lady Slicers web site.

The complete list of Top 40 and Top 100 girls basketball players in the state, as judged by Hoosier Basketball Magazine, is now available at the Indianapolis Star. As we reported earlier, a number of NWI players are on the Top 100 list, although only Jackie Campbell of Chesterton, Kristin Cheairs of Gary West Side, and Jeanette Gray of Valparaiso were the only Region girls to make the Top 40 cut. Of interest is the inclusion of West Lafayette's Keaton Brumm, formerly of Crown Point and Andrean, on the Top 40 list as well. The Top 40 Workout is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on March 21 at Marian College. Admission is $4.00.
As a reminder, the announcement of who will wear the coveted No. 1 jersey in the Indiana All-Star games as Miss Basketball will be announced this Sunday, March 21. You can view how the selection process for Miss Basketball takes place and the most likely candidates, including Valpo's Jeanette Gray, at the Miss Basketball Watch in the Indianapolis Star.
After being totally ignored by USA Today as the No. 1 team in Indiana for nearly three-quarters of the season, New Albany finally jumps in as No. 12 in the national rankings in that publication after winning the state finals. Earlier in the season, Ben Davis had been ranked by USA Today as high as No. 14. It is unfortunate that NorthWood is a 3A school, because they are worthy of a national ranking as well, as proved by last Saturday's performance. The Tournament of Champions should prove to be pretty interesting this year.
Those of you who were at the state finals on Saturday saw three promising freshmen who played huge parts in their teams' performances in the championship games. For Cathedral, 5'7 guard Sharika Webb was nearly unstoppable in the paint, and tallied 21 points for the Irish before she fouled out of the game with about 5 seconds to go. For New Albany, 5'4 guard Jessica Huggins, a defensive specialist, was like an Energizer Bunny, harassing Snider's guards into submission. And for NorthWood, 6'0 center Carol Duncan, a most promising prospect, scored 10 points for the Panthers on 5 of 6 shooting, even though she sat a good portion of the game in foul trouble. You can read more about Duncan and her season-long role for NorthWood in the Warsaw Times.
The Olympic Athletic Conference has recognized the following players for conference honors:

OAC First team: April McDivitt, Maria Renner, Beth Windhorst and Missy Taylor of Connersville; Abbey Clark and Brandy Strine from Huntington North; Erika Roudebush of Hamilton Southeastern; Cindi Merrill and Marianne Nethery of Noblesville; Brooke Davidson and Julie Shields of Brownsburg; Angel Hall and Lindsay Galbraith of Anderson Highland; and Cassie Golden of Jay County.

OAC Coach of the Year: Larry Miller of Connersville.

News thru Tuesday, March 16

Before we move on to our own take on the state finals on Saturday, keep in mind that we would like to hear your comments or favorite moments from the 1999 girls tournament series. Although many of you have been posting your comments on several forums that we've visited, we thought a posting board where tournament posts will not be lost to new postings would be appropriate. Therefore, we have created a message board entitled, "1999 State Tournament - Comments & Favorite Moments" for all to use. Please feel free to post your tournament thoughts and favorite moments there.

The 24th Annual IHSAA Girls Basketball State Finals was a classic in many ways, and we pass on some of our humble observations, notes and a few photos here. Hope you enjoy them.

No more M-S-A: The 1999 State Finals at Market Square Arena was the last one to be held in the 25-year-old building, which has served as the girls basketball finals venue since 1980. MSA will become a victim of the wrecking ball when the Indiana Pacers move to their new arena, Conseco Fieldhouse, two blocks south. It is undetermined at this time if the girls finals will be at the new arena next year or not. But if they are, somehow the chant of "Conseco Fieldhouse!" or "C-F!" at the Semi-State Championship games next year will not have the same effect as the time-honored chant of "M-S-A! M-S-A!".

Best side story to the state finals: Those of you who saw 3A NorthWood head coach Steve Neff on the sidelines Saturday could probably tell by his coaching style that he isn't the type to sit still and let things happen, but is a decisive man of action. Never was that so true when the chartered bus that the Panthers had contracted for the ride down to the finals did not show up on Saturday afternoon to take the team to Indianapolis with just about four hours to go before game time. A quick call to the charter service spelled impending disaster when the company denied that any contract for a chartered bus ride to Indy existed. That is when "SuperNeff" took matters into his own hands, literally, and saved the day by driving the girls down to MSA himself in a NorthWood school bus. Still licensed to drive a bus from his field trip driving stints years ago as a summer school teacher, Neff managed to get his team to Indianapolis from Nappanee in under three hours. This is definitely a classic story that will go down in girls basketball history as part of the NorthWood championship legend. You can read about the entire "bus episode" in the Goshen News.

Weirdest coincidence: A number of schools around the state are considering changing their school colors to red and black after Saturday's finals games. EVERY champion of the day sported those winning hues, making it a red and black sweep. Go figure. The only school that somewhat broke that mold was NorthWood, which lists its colors as "Black & Red," as opposed to "Red & Black," like the other three champions of the day. A minor discrepancy that didn't seem to affect the outcome of the red and black (or black and red) championship day run.

Another weird coincidence: Did anyone else who frequents the various basketball web sites in Indiana notice that the logo on the State Finals souvenier t-shirt sold on Saturday looked suspiciously like the logo of the I.I.B.W.A. (Indiana Internet Basketball Writers Association)? Hmmm... someday we'll have to get that thing copyrighted.

Austin country girl Brealie Collins (#45) gets fouled by a Luers defender while country girl teammates Sarah Winchester (#5) and Samara Ray (#32) look on.Best coach's pre-game quote from the finals: In the media glut before the state finals, coaches from all eight state-finalist schools were interviewed and re-interviewed by a number of papers and news services around the state. We read a good deal of those previews and the quote that caught our eye and funny bone was from 2A Austin coach Dan Deaton. When asked about what kind of team the 19-7 Eagles were, Deaton replied, "We're just a bunch of old country girls that like to get out and play some basketball."
(I love Indiana basketball...)

Strategy question of the finals: In the exciting 3A game which went down to the wire, Cathedral had two opportunities in the last 15-20 seconds of the game to set up plays on timeouts to take the lead -- once when the score was tied at 70-70 and then again after a NorthWood free throw put the Panthers ahead 71-70. During the first timeout, the conversation in the stands was that Cathedral coach Linda Bamrick would obviously go for the money shot with 6'3 senior center Jennifer Callier, who basically had been able to score at will throughout the game. I was just about to agree when, surprisingly, it became obvious who had gotten the nod for the planned game-winning play. As the players walked back out onto the floor after the timeout, several of them were giving encouraging words and pats on the back to freshman Sharika Webb, who had scored 21 points so far in the game with her barreling, but effective, penetration to the basket. I ventured a comment that Webb would take it to the hole, and that's just what happened. But the basket did not go, and on the ensuing NorthWood possession off the miss, Webb fouled Panther Natalie Will, who hit the first of two free throws with about 5 seconds to go. Cathedral pulled down the rebound on the second Will attempt and immediately called a timeout. Cathedral Coach Linda Barmrick gives her team last-second instructions during the time out.Certainly the plan would be to get it to Callier this time, and it was, but that was not how it went. Sophomore Asjah Zinnerman took it coast to coast in the last 4.4 seconds for the final shot of the game. With time running out, she put it up at about the free throw line while sandwiched between two NorthWood players. The shot hit the glass, banged down several inches into the basket, and then popped out to give NorthWood the game. Callier tried to put back the rebound, but the buzzer had already sounded and the Panthers were the new 3A State Champs. In reviewing the 5-second digital clip that we have of that last play, it's very questionable if Zinnerman could have dumped it off in time to Callier, who was ready and open to the bucket, for the final shot. Zinnerman probably made the right decision under the circumstances. But if Cathedral had it all over to do again on that first time out...
However, maybe as Coach Bamrick stated in the post-game interview, " wasn't meant to be." What an absolutely outstanding game. Thanks to both teams and coaches for treating fans to the best game of the day.

Best coach's post-game quote from the finals: 3A NorthWood coach Steve Neff when asked about the exciting final play of the game, "That last 4.4 seconds was the longest I ever sat through.''

Best player strategy of the finals: Ft. Wayne Luers junior Jenny Moppert, a speedy 5'3 dynamo, walked away from the Knights' championship-winning effort with 11 rebounds. Not exactly considered a monster on the boards during the season with a 3.0 rebounding average, she shared her secret after the game. According to Moppert, she noticed that the MSA rims were pretty tight at the pre-game shoot around earlier in the week, and deduced that a good number of rebounds might be headed to wide open territory instead of just over the paint. She capitalized on that prediction by anticipating the high-arching outside rebounds and picking up her game-high 11. That's a pretty good 5'3 strategy in our book.

Record-making and -breaking performances: Several season and tournament records of note were made during state finals day on Saturday. Kourtney Mennen appears on the MSA big screen after receiving the 1A Mental Attitude Award.First in individual efforts, 1A Clinton Prairie senior standout and Mental Attitude Winner, Kourtney Mennen moved into 6th place on the all-time Top 25 Season Scoring Leaders list with 750 points for the 1998-99 season. Mennen also moved into 8th place on the Top 25 Career Scoring Leaders list with a career total of 2,158 points. For team records, in that stellar 3A game that was undoubtedly the best game of the day, NorthWood put on a shooting clinic with a blistering .638 field goal percentage, trouncing an 11-year old Highest Field Goal Percentage record of .586 set by Ft. Wayne Snider against Carmel in 1988. Cathedral's shooting percentage was definitely nothing to overlook either at .518. The combined shooting percentage of both teams (.578) was good enough to break the 21-year-old record for Highest Combined Field Goal Percentage in a championship game by nearly 8 percentage points. That earlier record was set in the 1978 championship game between Warsaw and Jac-Cen-Del, when both teams combined for a .504 shooting percentage.

Most interesting school mascot at MSA: A cross between what looked like Mr. Ed with an enlarged head and a blue and white Smurf, the New Washington Mustang mascot, hands down, was the most interesting at the state finals on Saturday. This furry fan-pleaser with the floor-length tail danced and pranced on the cheering floor in front of the enthusiastic New Washington fans, and was a darn good "hoofer". (Ba-dah-dum... Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Crowd notes: The biggest fan following of the day was without a doubt the crowd from New Albany. They filled their section of the arena from top to bottom with a sea of red and black. The loudest crowd of the day had nothing to do with the biggest crowd. In fact they were from the smallest school at the finals -- New Washington, with an enrollment of 264. This roudy bunch was with their team from beginning to end, even when the Mustangs trailed by 15 points at the half. (Maybe it had something to do with that really cool mascot.) The quickest crowd exit of the day definitely went to Cathedral. A great green and white showing, the Irish following cleared out within 3 minutes after the 3A awards presentation. And when we say "cleared out", we mean "cleared out". Maybe 75 Irish fans hung around for the 4A game. 1999 IHSAA State Finals Game ProgramThe lingering thoughts about the Cathedral loss were understandably just too much to endure for the Irish faithful while watching more basketball. Most likely they left to find their team and let them know how proud they were despite the loss. Finally, the issue of attendance... Crowds were definitely sparse throughout the day. The excitement of the all-day state finals event is definitely not what it used to be. In the state finals game program, the history recap for 1989 stated that attendance for that finals day was 31,325 for two sessions. This year's attendance in the morning session was 6,776. We never did see the evening attendance posted, but it was probably a bit more than that and probably brought the day's total attendance to about 15,000 -- less than half the total attendance of 10 years ago. What's the answer? We don't know. But we anticipate the IHSAA will be announcing some changes to the present money-losing tournament format at its scheduled Executive Board meeting in May.

And a final note: We wanted to bring you more photos from the games on Saturday, but as you might have been able to tell by what we offer here, our seats were not at all conducive to quality action photos from the games. But we hope we were able to provide a few interesting angles and observations from the games anyway. (Anybody out there know how to get a press pass? Just wondering for next year.)

Don't forget to post YOUR comments or favorite moments from the state finals or 1999 tournament series on our 1999 State Tournament - Comments & Favorite Moments posting board.
News thru Friday, March 12

Previews to the 3A NorthWood vs. Cathedral state finals game are appearing on-line, with comments from both coaches and a hint at the strategy both will employ to help their teams claim the gold at the state championship game on Saturday. This 3A matchup is being anticipated as one of the best of the four class games, with both teams sporting a number of Division I signees and prospects. You can read about this upcoming battle in the South Bend Tribune (alt. link) and The Goshen Times.

Sophomore guard Suzie Hayden of 4A Ft. Wayne Snider is featured in the Ft. Wayne Sentinel today. Hayden, a 3-point specialist (.344) for the Panthers, could be the outside defensive focus of New Albany on Saturday. Hayden's outside sharpshooting is used by the Snider offense to open up opportunities for post players Kia Jones, Erin Heffner and Sparkle Williams. If New Albany can limit Snider's outside game, the defense can concentrate on interior play. Snider doesn't have an answer to senior Kennitra Johnson in terms of explosive play and scoring. However, they rely on a balanced scoring attack with firepower from 7 different players: Brooke Minnear (13.0 ppg), Jones (8.8 ppg), Hayden (8.4 ppg), Williams (8.4 ppg), Erin Heffner (7.3 ppg), Jackie Knight (7.2 ppg) and Antoinette Gregory (7.0 ppg).
The following players have been honored by their schools or conference as follows:

Michigan City High School - Jessica Yagelski, MVP; Latisha Wagner, free-throw percentage award; Trenia Davis, most improved; Natalie Burgess, Wolf Award.

Wabash County - Senior Megan Eckert (Manchester) Player of the Year; First Team: sophomore Jessica Hicks (Manchester), junior Staci White and sophomore Abby Wilson (Northfield), sophomore Brooke McKee (Southwood) and junior Gina Curtis (Wabash). (Story in the Wabash Plain Dealer.)

New Prairie High School - Janice Belzowski, MVP; Katie Williamson, most improved; Sara Smith, mental attitude award; Krissy Mrozinski and Ashley McFatridge, assists award; Erica Hauschild, free-throw percentage leader.

Fremont High School - Sarah Shuman, MVP; Kristin Roederer, outstanding defensive player; Stacy Hanna, most rebounds; Summer Cress, best free throw percentage.

Three Rivers Conference - Academic All-Conference girls basketball team: Marie Rosswurm and Myra Absi of Rochester; Jenny Sanders, Jennifer Baker, Brooke Fisher and Jennifer Studebaker of Tippecanoe Valley; Sarah Garvin and Kristina Williams of North Miami.

Indian Creek High School - Beth Teeters, MVP and best free throw percentage; Desirae Tharpe, most rebounds; Lindsey Harvey, most improved; Jodi Scott, mental attitude.

The Indianapolis Star has named its Super Team for the 1998-99 season and sophomore Shyra Ely of Ben Davis heads the list as Super Player of the Year. Coach of the Year is Linda Bamrick of Cathedral, whose Irish will be defending a 27-0 record in the 3A game of the state finals on Saturday against NorthWood. Ten other players from the greater Indianapolis area were also named to the team.
News thru Thursday, March 11

On-line news coverage of players, teams and coaches either in the state finals or whose season has come to a close, can be found at the following links:

3A Northwood Coach Steve Neff - South Bend ribune (alt. link)
2A Eastern Comets - Kokomo Tribune

Post-season honors continue to be bestowed upon players and teams around the state. You can find complete lists and information at the links listed below for a variety of honors.

Indianapolis area Player of the Year, First Team & Coach of the Year for each of the following geographical areas:
All-City - Indianapolis Star
All-Metro North - Indianapolis Star
All-Metro South - Indianapolis Star
All-Metro West - Indianapolis Star
All-Metro East - Indianapolis Star
All-County - Indianapolis Star

All Mid-Indiana Conference - Peru Tribune
Northeast Hoosier Conference - Bluffton Banner-News

On Friday, the Indianapolis Star will announce its 1999 girls basketball Super Team, recognizing the best players from the nine-county Indianapolis metropolitan area.
According to the Hoosier Times, Bloomington South varsity head coach, Criss Beyers, will be leaving his coaching and teaching positions to pursue a new administrative career at an athletic facility in the Bloomington area. During his five-year stint for the purple and white Panthers, Beyers compiled a 60-45 record.
Two former north central Indiana prep players, Notre Dame sophomore Ruth Riley (North Miami) and Duke junior Lauren Rice (Peru) are getting ready for the upcoming NCAA tournament. Rice and her Duke Blue Devils (24-6) will begin NCAA play against Holy Cross (21-7) on Saturday as the No. 3 seed in the East Region bracket. The 6'5 Riley and the Irish (25-4) are the No. 5 seed in the West Region bracket and open against St. Mary's (26-2) on Saturday.

News thru Wednesday, March 10

According to a Region Roundball Review source, seven NWI senior players have been named Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 100 players. State semi-finalist Hobart landed three on the list. All NWI players include, in alphabetical order, the following: Jackie Campbell (Chesterton), Kristin Cheairs (West Side), Abbey Coons (Hobart), Jeanette Gray (Valpo), Erin Jedlowski (Portage), Katie Julian (Hobart), and Lauren Julian (Hobart).

A number of on-line articles about teams and players either in the state finals or just eliminated in semi-state play this weekend are appearing around the state as follows:

3A Northwood - Elkhart Truth (one-day link)
4A Ft. Wayne Snider's Sparkle Williams - FW Journal Gazette (one-day link)
4A Kokomo - Kokomo Tribune
1A Clinton Prairie's Kourtney Mennen - Frankfort Times
4A Connersville - Connersvile News-Examiner
1A Eminence - Martinsville Reporter-Times
1 A North Harrison - Corydon Democrat

The Kennitra Johnson/April McDivitt Miss Basketball debate rages on with the outstanding performances of both seniors during last weekend's semi-state championship game at Southport. Pointing to the difficulties in selecting the top candidate are well explained in an article appearing in the Connersville News-Examiner by staff writer Andy Sallee.
Purdue senior Stephanie White-McCarty (Seeger) continues to rack up the honors as her college career comes to a close as a unanimous choice for the All-American First Team. The only other player to receive a unanimous vote is Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw. Notre Dame sophomore Ruth Riley was named to the Third Team. You can view the entire list of All-American picks at the Indy Star.
News thru Tuesday, March 9

Congratulations to Ben Davis sophomore Shyra Ely, who is being featured in the Spring Issue of Sports Illustrated for Women, the cover of which you can view at the Sports Illustrated for Women web site. According to the publication, Ely is "the top high school player" in the nation's sophomore class. Also featured on the cover and in the article is the top freshman in the nation, 14-year-old Seimone Augustus (6'1) of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who is expected to be the next generation Holdsclaw player in the high school ranks. According to the article, her skills (which include the ability to dunk) are so advanced, that it is felt she could step into the college game today. Some interesting reading.

The IHSAA is carrying complete team information about the eight teams that will be appearing in the state finals at Market Square Arena this Saturday, including rosters, stats, records, coach's information and other miscellaneous info. A great resource for previewing the teams and how they match up.
How big of a game was the New Albany/Connersville matchup on Saturday? Big enough for USA Today to carry a small piece on the event. With the author of the article, Dave Krider, taking notice of the 47-point performance of New Albany senior Kennitra Johnson, don't be surprised if New Albany sneaks into the next USA Today national rankings due out later this week. Krider also does the rankings for the national publication.
On-line publications are carrying stories about teams appearing in the State Finals on Saturday:

The Goshen News - 3A NorthWood
Indianapolis Star - 1A New Washington

Lake Central grad Kelly Komara, now a freshman playing for the No. 1 Purdue Lady Boilermakers, is featured in an article from yesterday's Times newspaper. The article discusses the upcoming NCAA tournament and Komara's role on the team this past season.
News thru Monday, March 8

Go get a cup of coffee or a cola and get ready for a long read. We have lots of news and viewpoints for you look over today...

We were disappointed that The Times and Post-Tribune did not carry on-line coverage of the Semi-State games covering teams from Northwest Indiana. We would have liked to link them to our site for the rest of you around the state to see the NWI take on the games involving Highland, Andrean, Hanover Central and Kouts. But instead, we just cover a few points here...

4A Highland sophomore Jenny DeMuth could not be stopped by the Kokomo defense in the early game of the day, and scored a game high 22 points despite playing with the flu, which she had since Wednesday but did not let anyone know about until Friday. According to a quote in the Post-Tribune, Kokomo head coach Charlie Hall stated that he "can't believe there's a better sophomore in the state." DeMuth is scheduled to have surgery today on her knee, which has not been at 100% since her ACL tear last season. With her own estimate of a 30% utility of the knee this season, one can only imagine what she'll be doing at 100% next season...

3A Andrean players, coaches and fans are probably still wondering "what if" with the third quarter knee injury of senior long-range shooting specialist Kara Austgen in the NorthWood early game, when Andrean was only trailing by 3 points. The game plan at that point was to let Austgen loose from the outside to draw the defense and open some additional scoring opportunities inside for center Meghann Sullivan. That plan went out the gym door with Austgen's injury, however, and Andrean never recovered from her absence as NorthWood opened it up from that point on to win by 18. No word on Austgen's condition today...

For the last two weeks we've been reading about the impact 2A Hanover Central coach Denny Foster has had on the Lady Wildcat program since his arrival just after the season started. It became painfully obvious just how important he was to their success when he was ejected after two technical fouls just at the start of the fourth quarter. Without his presence on the bench, the Lady Wildcats went south quickly with four of five starters fouling out of the game before it was all over. In fact in the last quarter, Hanover Central sent Eastern to the line 22 times on 15 fouls, compared to the 1 foul of Eastern for the quarter...

Amazing underdog 1A Kouts, the only NWI team to make it to the Semi-State championship game, met a brick wall by the name of Kourtney Mennen in the Clinton Prairie final. The senior scored 27 points for her team to add to her 2,000+ career total. For Kouts, junior Jenni Bielinski established herself late in the season as a force that will have to be reckoned with in her final season of high school ball next winter. She had 17 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in the early victory over Fremont. Kouts as a whole looks to return a strong team, with the loss of only senior Mary Gonzales (10 ppg) from the starting lineup...

Congratulations to all the NWI teams that advanced to the Semi-State this season! If this year's showing is any indication, the Region looks to possibly go further in the tournament next season.

Now, for our notes from the Southport Semi-State:

The atmosphere at the Southport arena was of the state finals variety on Saturday -- big name players, high-ranked teams, tons of media, a huge crowd (7,500) -- and a treat for all the fans in attendance. The players definitely did not disappoint, with two fine early games and what turned out to be a legendary championship game. Kennitra Johnson and April McDivitt, both Miss Basketball candidates, were unbelievable, both coming up with clutch shot after clutch shot. Even with 8 or 9 seconds left in the second overtime, with Connersville down by 3 and NA with possession, you still didn't think it was over. But the play designed during the final timeout didn't unfold as planned, and McDivitt had no choice but to foul Johnson to stop the clock, sending Johnson to the line and McDivitt to the bench with her fifth foul. With McDivitt's exit, the game's finish was elementary...

When April McDivitt fouled out of the game with 5 seconds to go, the entire arena gave her a standing ovation as she walked off the high school court for the last time. This is a kid who plays with a huge, huge basketball heart. Her skills are undeniable and she will be a very valuable addition to Pat Summit's Tennessee Vols roster when she heads off to college next fall. I think her most amazing shot of the game, which she effectively willed to go in, was the 3-pointer with just a few seconds to go in regulation to tie it up. She was in the extreme left corner of the floor (about 7 feet away from us) with two defenders on her and she just jumped as high as she could over them, with her feet nearly as high as her waist, to hit that incredible shot. She absolutely refused to give up and would not quit until she was forced off the floor with that high school career-ending fifth foul...

We've seen Kennitra Johnson play on four different occasions, with three appearances at the Crown Point Shootout the last three years. However, she definitely never dominated at Crown Point like she did in that championship game. Although we saw glimpses of that type of play at CP, she normally relied on teammates to help with the scoring, usually distributing the ball to make things happen for her teammates. But Saturday she took the game on her shoulders and put on an incredible show. I think this is the type of play that Johnson has been capable of all along, but chose not to utilize in every game to keep her teammates involved. This kid has an incredible first step that left most of her one-on-one defenders chasing behind her to the bucket. She was just as formidible on defense, easily stripping opponents with her lightning-quick hands before they knew what happened. (I don't know how many times we saw that dazed and confused look on the faces of her steal victims... now you see it, now you don't!) The scary thing with Johnson is that you get the feeling that she has not yet tapped her full potential. There is still a lot of raw talent there that, when fully developed, should make her one of the top guards in the college game by her junior and senior years in college...

Kennitra Johnson was heavily recruited by Purdue before she made her decision to go to Connecticut. From what we understand, Purdue was her first choice, but the head coaching situation there being in limbo moved her to her second choice. It would have been great to closely watch Johnson over the next four years in Lafayette, but we'll just have to follow her progress from far away. One of the reasons Johnson was high on Purdue was because of her friendship with former Lake Central grad, Kelly Komara, who is now a freshman for the Lady Boilermakers. They played a lot of AAU and summer ball together over the past few years. Komara was at the Southport final to watch her New Albany friend in the performance of her career, and the two hugged after the game at half-court. Now THAT would have been another incredible backcourt at Purdue -- Komara and Johnson. Almost as good as White-McCarty and Figgs all over again. I bet all the top college programs are wiping their collective brows on that close call...

The determined face of NA's secret defensive weapon, 5'4 freshman Jessica Huggins, will probably be a recurring image in the nightmares of April McDivitt over the next few weeks. She didn't put it to McDivitt like a full-grown Bulldog, but was more like an annoying pup that wouldn't quit nipping at her heels. The frosh was fearless in the face of greatness, and made McDivitt's efforts to bring the ball up the court and penetrate much more difficult than they had to be. I suppose when Huggins gets to go up against one of the best in practice every day, the results are the type the quick-footed Energizer Bunny displayed on Saturday. The talk is that Huggins could be another KJ in the making, with her quickness and court effort. We know she can score if she has to. In summer basketball, our 14U team (CP Region Rage) played the New Albany team at the AAU state tournament last year at Southport, and Huggins was good for 18 points (mostly on penetration moves) to lead her very young team in a losing effort. Now she just needs to work on those free throws a bit... ;-)

Another freshman who played a lot of minutes on Saturday was 5'11 (although looking taller) Missy Taylor of Connersville. Taylor, a slim, lanky guard who looks like she is still growing, was effective in the first game against TH South with some key steals and scoring. Her long arms are a very effective defensive weapon against most teams, as long as the game tempo isn't took quick that is. Taylor's height is a definite advantage in the passing lanes and on the trap, but with the quickness of NA's offense, there was no need to pass the ball over Taylor because they rarely were trapped to force the pass. Taylor will be one to watch over the next few years as she settles into her growing frame and finds the best position on the floor to match her skills. She will most likely play a big part in the Connersville offense next season with the departure of McDivitt...

Another Connersville player who will play a key role in Connersville's future is unheralded 5'10 sophomore forward Maria Renner. We liked her aggressive post play and court sense -- always in the right place at the right time. Although Renner did not start for the Spartans, she played a majority of minutes. Sophomore starting guard Jenny Cooper (5'5) also made some key treys toward the end of the game to help Connersville stay in it...

Finally, a bit of fun. Like many others wanting to get the best seats possible for the final game, we showed up before the gates opened an hour before game time. (Hey... we know we're nuts, okay?) As you can imagine, there wasn't a whole lot to do while waiting in the bleachers once we were in, but there was entertainment nonetheless. Because many of the fans from both schools were there early, the first competition of the evening was between the cheering squads for the two schools. With every warmup stunt, the opposing side tried to outdo the other with fans going crazy after each one-up. Connersville cheerleader bodies were flying 20 feet in the air on tosses and New Albany tumblers were throwing chest-high full twists on passes going the length of the floor. The fans from both school were outstanding, but we give the Connersville crowd first place in attendance and noise. They took up nearly two-thirds of the entire gym and made free throws a nerve-wracking ordeal for each and every New Albany player at the charity line.

The South Bend Tribune (alt. link) is carrying some notes about the 3A and 4A Semi-State action at Peru and Warsaw, including the 3A All Semi-State team honorees at Peru. Named to the team were seniors Natalie Will and Amy Zercher of NorthWood, senior Emily Hammes of Westfield, freshman Ande Ray of Westfield, and junior Linda Graham of Ft. Wayne Elmhurst. Not a single player from Andrean was named to the all-tournament team, although senior Meghann Sullivan made a good showing with 15 points against a tough NorthWood team.
The IHSAA is carrying a press release with some interesting information about teams and players headed to the State Finals next Saturday. Senior Kourtney Mennen of 1A Clinton Prairie is leading all scorers in the state in total points for the season with 727. The ISU recruit scored a total of 57 points over the weekend, and can up that season total with additional scoring at Market Square Arena on Saturday.
The Porter County Conference, which made the strongest showing in NWI with two teams advancing to semi-state play, has announced its All-Conference team for the season. Hanover Central and Morgan Township placed the highest number of players in the PCC Top 10 with three each. Players selected are as follows: Erica Martin (Kouts), Kim McGinley (Morgan Twp.), Melanie Brumbaugh (Hanover Center), Christy Koby (Hanover Central), Megan Hefner (Morgan Twp.), Andrea Walker (Wheeler), Lindsey Schultz (Wheeler), Michelle Armstrong (Hebron), Mary Gonzales (Kouts), Tammi Boersma (Hanover Central), and Jody Lackey (Morgan Twp.).
The South Bend Tribune reports that 13 girls from the north-central area of the state have been named to the Hoosierland Report Top 100 list of seniors. As might be expected, the names of Jeanette Gray of Valpo and Amy Zercher and Natalie Will of NorthWood appear, as well as ten others, for a good showing from the greater South Bend area.
Special thanks to all of you who reported scores on our reporting board on Saturday. We were either on the road or in the gym (or killing time at the mall between sessions) from 5:00 a.m. Saturday to 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Please feel free to use our reporting board for general comments about the tournament or any other girls basketball related issues. With few games left in the season, we might as well continue to put it to good use!

News thru Friday, March 5

There are a good number of stories on-line from around the state with regard to girls basketball today. Semi-State preview articles about Region teams are in The Times today, covering the tough contests that face Highland (vs. No. 4 Kokomo) and Andrean (vs. No. 6 NorthWood). There is also a very interesting article about Hanover Central Head Coach Denny Foster with his take on coaching the girls' game after having coached boys for 30 years.

From around the state, there are several other stories about teams and players in upcoming Semi-State competition:

3A Northwood favored (S. Bend Tribune)
4A Penn faces big hurdle (S. Bend Tribune)
3A NorthWood supporting cast (The Goshen News)
2A Eastern Comets (vs. Hanover Central) (Kokomo Tribune)
4A Kokomo's Heather Cusick (Kokomo Tribune)
2A Frankton's Kelli Carter (Anderson Herald Bulletin)
2A Eastern v. Hanover Central (Kokomo Tribune)
4A Connersville v. TH South (Connersville News-Examiner)
1A Eminence v. Washington Catholic (Martinsville Reporter-Times)

There is an opinion piece in the Anderson Herald Bulletin about private schools and the class state tournament with regard to the Frankton v. Ft. Wayne Luers Semi-State matchup. Interesting reading.
Awards continue to be given by organizations and media around the state. The Bloomington Herald-Times has named 1A Bloomfield junior Lindsay Secrest as their Player of the Year over other local senior power players Cortney Cooper (Martinsville), Laura Blevins (Bloomington South) and Nok Duany (Bloomington North). Those three, however, were named to the All-Region First Team with Secrest and Edgewood senior Abby Schwartz. All-Region Second Team, Third Team and Honorable Mention players in the greater Bloomington area are named in this article as well.
Apparently Hoosier Basketball Magazine's Top 100 senior picks are out there somewhere, although we have not been able to locate a complete list. Articles in the Connersville News-Examiner and the Shelbyville News are reporting that players in their area are appearing on the list. So far April McDivitt (Connersville), Traci Joslin (Cambridge City) and Delena White (Southwestern) have emerged as players selected. That list of 100 will eventually be cut to 50 for the Top 40 Workout (40 plus 10 alternates) to be held on March 21. The Top 40 Workout is an opportunity for seniors to be seen by college scouts and to help make the final selections for the Indiana All-Stars. If we are able to pin down other seniors named to the list, we will mention them here in future reports.
The Indianapolis Star, originator of the Indiana All-Star Team honors, has put together a web page showing selection dates for Jr. All-Stars, Indiana All-Stars, Miss Basketball and all other info about the Indiana All-Star games and practices. Strong considerations for All-Star team selections from the Region are seniors Jeanette Gray of Valparaiso, Jackie Campbell of Chesterton and Kristin Cheairs of West Side. For the Jr. All-Star team, Erin Sampsel of Valparaiso is considered a front-runner from the Region.

Two former Region-area high school players have been honored by the Missouri Valley Conference for their outstanding efforts this season. Jennifer Kaczka, Highland's leading scorer last season, came in third in voting for MVC Freshman of the Year with her key play at Wichita State. Also, Indiana State University's Cristalle Shelton (East Chicago) came in third in balloting for MVC Newcomer of the Year.
The Indianapolis Star, continuing to feed us hoops fanatics with first-rate basketball coverage, has a new web site covering the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament (and the men's side, too) with any and all kinds of information you could possibly want and more. Just thought we'd pass this one on to you hard core Internet basketball cruisers out there.
News thru Thursday, March 4

The Post-Tribune is carrying two articles about 2A Hanover Central, the surprise team of the Region post-season and a mystery team to the rest of the 2A teams left in the tournament. Who are these girls anyway? Well, you can find out a little bit more about the players and Head Coach Denny Foster, former boys varsity coach at Hebron, who Hanover players say is responsible for the team's current success. This group seems like they're having the time of their lives and will do anything it takes to continue playing toward a 2A state championship. Good luck to JM and the Lady Wildcats!

The Elkhart Truth is carrying a preview piece to the Penn vs. Ft. Wayne Snider game. Penn is looking to continue on in the tournament in the name of all the teams in the South Bend area. Snider's coach is giving a pretty confident spin about this matchup, and he has good reason to. The Panthers are 24-1 on the season and have some of the best talent in the Northeastern part of the state in senior Brooke Minniear, senior Kia Jones, junior Sparkle Williams and sophomore Suzie Hayden.
The Indianapolis Star is announcing Indianapolis Girls All-City honors and All-Marion County honors. Notable in the All-City honors is the inclusion of all five starters from No. 1 3A Indianapolis Cathedral -- Jennifer Callier, Jill Corbett, Beth Roederer, Sharika Webb and Asjah Zinnerman. Also in the Indianapolis Star today is a feature on Miss Basketball candidate April McDivitt and her long reign as a Connersville hometown hero.
After holding steady at No. 14 in USA Today's Super 25 national rankings, 4A Ben Davis was summarily dropped from the list after their 24-game winning streak ended with a loss to Terre Haute South in last weekend's regional. Don't be surprised if Ben Davis appears in the pre-season national rankings next fall, however, as they return the nucleus of their winning team with sophomore Shyra Ely, sophomore Ashley Allen and junior Sarah Strahm.
As a resource for your Semi-State travels this weekend, we have put together a page with Directions to Selected Semi-State Sites, including the North Semi-States for all classes and the South 4A Semi-State at Southport. Although some of the directions we have linked to do not take you directly to the high schools listed, they do give you route maps, route times and a good start to your intended destination. We have also included telephone numbers to the Athletic Director's office at each school if you require further details. The link to this list of directions can be found on our home page for easy reference.
For those of you traveling to the 4 A Southport Semi-State this weekend, featuring the No. 1 New Albany and No. 3 Connersville (not to mention the two leading Miss Basketball candidates), the rumor is that tickets will be scarce for those who don't have one in hand before Saturday morning. We put in a call to the Southport Athletic Director's office today and were told that 3,000 tickets will be available for sale at the Southport ticket booths beginning at 9:00 a.m. (EST) that day.

News thru Wednesday, March 3

The Indianapolis Star is previewing candidates for the upcoming vote for Miss Basketball in its Miss Basketball Watch, which is being sponsored by Hoosier Basketball Magazine. Featured on that web page is NWI's very own Jeanette Gray of Valparaiso, as well as other candidates from around the state, including Emily Butler of Center Grove, Elizabeth English of Rushville, Jill Hartman from Evansville Memorial, Kennitra Johnson from New Albany, and April McDivitt from Connersville. Included at the site is a link to the explanation of how the Miss Basketball selection process is conducted.

The South Bend Tribune is carrying a number of interesting tidbits about teams and players in the South Bend area. Included in the article are notes about NorthWood, Amy Zercher of NorthWood, S. Bend Washington and Krishna Snyder of 2A No. 1 Ft. Wayne Luers, formerly of the South Bend area.
As the season comes closer to the end of tournament play, post-season honors are being bestowed by conferences and publications around the state. As they become available, we will bring them to you. However, not all honors are published on-line, so if you are aware of any conference or all-area honors that we may not be aware of, please forward them to us and we will post them here. Today, the following conferences named honors as follows:

The Rochester Sentinel reports Andrea Milliser of Rochester and Rhonda Doud of Tippecanoe Valley have been named the all-Three Rivers Conference girl’s basketball first team. Named to the second team were Alisha Ewing and Jill Bair Rochester, Tabitha Pratt of Tippecanoe Valley and Sarah Garvin and Kristina Williams of North Miami. Honorable mention selections were Marie Rosswurm of Rochester, Jennifer Studebaker and Brooke Fisher of Tippecanoe Valley and Mandy Sopher of North Miami.

The Shelbyville News reports Shelbyville’s girls basketball team placed three players on the all-Hoosier Heritage Conference team. The team is selected by the conference’s coaches. Seniors Mandy Pouder and Olivia Ash and sophomore Sarah Laird were named to the first team. Laird was a unanimous pick. Also named to the first team were: Rushville’s Elizabeth English, Morgan Koors and Katie Marlow; Mount Vernon’s Johna Goff; Greenfield-Central’s Melissa Maxwell; New Palestine’s Dana Schreiber and Darci Ruster; Rachel Bowling of Pendleton Heights; and Christy Clodfelder of Delta. Shelbyville’s Bethany Smith was named to the HHC honorable mention team. Shelbyville’s John Fair shared HHC coach of the year honors with Rushville’s Cinda Brown.

Coach Larry Miller of the No. 3-ranked Connersville Lady Spartans is using some lessons he learned from his own high school coach to keep his team focused throughout the state tournament. Miller, who was a junior guard on the 1972 Connersville Boys State Championship team, is lightening up on his team during this stressful time with shortened practices and fun team competitions, in addition to the regular drills and scrimmages. You can read about Miller's strategy in the Connersville Examiner. Also included in that article are some April McDivitt updates, including the Indiana Miss Basketball race and the Reebok North-South All-Star game.
An article by Pat McKee of the Indianapolis Star lists a number of former Indiana high school players who have been given a variety of season-ending honors, including Sarrah Stricklett (Valparaiso), who was named to the All-Mid-Continent Conference First Team.

News thru Sunday, February 28

Just a few notes from yesterday's Regional action in Northern Indiana:

In 4A Highland's win over West Side yesterday, the Trojans were trailing by 10 with less than 4 minutes to go in regulation when they went on a 10-point run to tie it near the end with a putback by junior Lindsey Chappell. During that run, sophomore Jenny DeMuth gave Region-area fans a look at what it means to have a never-say-die attitude. DeMuth was good for 5 points in those last 4 minutes, including an amazing sequence where she tapped out a West Side pass, chased it down with a tip-toe grab before it went out-of-bounds, and then drove baseline to close the gap to 2. That play sparked the crowd, and more importantly, the last seconds of Highland's play to get to overtime and the eventual win.

Gary West Side Coach Rod Fisher must be playing last night's game over and over in his head this morning after coming so close to a Regional win in what was supposed to be West Side's season to advance after consecutive regional losses to Crown Point (1996) and Lake Central (1997 & 1998). Muddled in those thoughts must be the free throw shooting of Highland in comparison to West Side. To say that free throws were a critical facet to this game is an understatement, where the Trojans were 47% from the line, while the Cougars were just 20%. Not that percentages had anything to do with the free throw factor, but rather opportunities. Highland made the trip 38 times to West Side's 5.

In 4A Hobart's loss to Penn, the Brickies were tentative coming out in the first quarter, but found an offensive rhythm to command the lead for all but the last minutes of the game. Twins Katie Julian (11 pts) and Lauren Julian (12 pts), and guard Abbey Coons (7 pts) were extremely tough on the boards and made some great plays while surrounded by Penn jerseys. As we watched the game heading into the fourth quarter, it seemed like Hobart would realize the next step of their post-season dream, but it was not to be. Penn's defensive pressure in the last minutes of the game was the difference in the game, as the Brickie guards turned it over 8 times in the fourth. Ironically, Penn guard Angela Knight, who was scoreless after missing a number of long shots throughout the game, hit the game winner on a baseline drive with 3 seconds to go to seal Hobart's fate... It was a nice run, Lady Bricks.

As a number of seniors leave the Region girls basketball scene, an underclass(wo)man is making her mark coming in. In 3A Andrean's win over Twin Lakes, the crowd was wowed by the play of 5'6 freshman point guard Jamie Gutowski, who had her high school career breakout game with 24 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. With senior scoring leader Meghann Sullivan sitting the bench in the second quarter with 3 fouls and 1 point, Gutowski (8 ppg avg) and senior guard Kara Austgen turned up the scoring heat in the third to build on a 5-point lead at the half. Sullivan sat out the entire third quarter, which turned out to be no problem, as the guard duo took care of business in an uptempo effort. A running game has not been Andrean's style all season long, so it was a much different look than what Twin Lakes expected. Andrean will probably be running again next weekend, but this time against a better match in seasoned and athletic No. 6 NorthWood, who knocked off No. 5 S. Bend Washington in a 79-41 rout.

Another freshman who is making her mark, in what seems to be near obsurity so far, is NorthWood's Carol Duncan, a 6'1 starting center for the Panthers. This girl is definitely one to keep an eye on over the next few weeks and years. She does not look like a freshman, play like a freshman, or react like a freshman, and we are betting that you will be hearing a lot about her before she is done with her high school career. Duncan had 10 points in her team's win over NorthWood in a pretty physical post game. Although she benefits greatly from the playmaking ability and defensive attention on senior All-Star candidate teammates Amy Zercher (29 pts) and Natalie Will (21 pts), she is not beyond creating the necessary offense herself when presented the opportunity. Look for her to be the centerpiece of the rebuilding NorthWood offense next season.

Watch out 2A teams around the state. The Hanover Central Wildcats are still in it and intend to continue. With their able 63-54 win over No. 4 North Judson yesterday, the Wildcats are definitely on a roll and should not be overlooked. They will be running up against No. 7 Eastern next weekend in the first game of the Maconaquah Semi-State, with an eye on a chance against No. 1 Ft. Wayne Luers in the championship evening game. Don't count these Wildcats out... they are a bunch who have not even realized their full potential yet!

We attended the NorthWood Regional in Nappanee yesterday, and tried out our new digital camera on the days events. I'm sorry to report to Hobart fans that our first round of photo attempts in the 4A Hobart v. Penn game were not very good, and unfortunately we don't have any photos from that game. However, we were able (for some reason we have yet to figure out) to get a few decent shots from the 3A NorthWood v. SB Washington game. We bring our feeble first-time digital efforts to you with the following pics.

 SB Washington senior Nicole Burnett (30) drives at
the top of the key as she is closely guarded
by NorthWood sophomore Kasey Chamberlin.

 SB Washington senior Ryanne Litka (in green) is
smothered by the rebounding efforts of the
NorthWood "Black Swish".


 SB Washington players listen to Coach Marilyn Coddens during an early timeout with a 10-1 deficit on the board. This was an indication of things to come in a lopsided 79-41 Regional loss for the "Big Green".


 Northwood sophomore Kasey Chamberlin puts up a short jumper as SB Washington junior Sarah Wright (40) tries to deflect the shot.

News thru Saturday, February 27

Before you read anything else today on this web site, I suggest you move on to the following Steve Hanlon Prep Beat column from today's issue of The Times out of Munster. Although this is about a young man from Munster involved in the high school game (and in a way you might not expect as the central focus of an article about prep basketball), you MUST read this oustanding piece. It's truly an inspirational one for players, coaches and parents. It definitely made my day.

The Northern Lakes Conference (NLC) has named its All-Conference teams for the current basketball season. NorthWood, ranked No. 7 in 3A, had the most with three players named to the First Team, including Amy Zercher, Natalie Will and Angie Callander. Also selected was state scoring leader Shanna Zolman, a freshman from Wawasee. From Warsaw, Katie Elliott and Jenna Rooney were First Team picks as well, while Warsaw head coach Will Wienhorst was named NLC Coach of the Year. To see the remainder of the First and Second Team NLC selections, go to the Warsaw Times-Union.
Either No. 2 Ben Davis and No. 8 Terre Haute South will walk out a winner after today's 4A contest in the Northview High Regional, but you can be sure that whichever team leaves with the trophy will have survived one of the toughest battles of the year. So far this season, Ben Davis has beaten TH South twice, but as most coaches, players and fans know, it is hard to beat a good team three times in one season. The Braves are hoping to give the Giants everything they've got with three outstanding last-chance seniors in Dorcus Lawson, Joileen Brewer and Cara Stuckey. You can read about today's expected battle royale in the Indianapolis Star.
Many of us remember seeing Stephanie White (now White-McCarty) lighting it up on the basketball courts of a number of high school gyms around the state and, at the time, knew she was something very special. But I wonder if we all knew just how special she was. If we didn't know then, we certainly know now. White-McCarty, as expected, has been unanimously named by the media and Big Ten coaches as Big Ten Player of the Year. She was also the only unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten First-Team, where she is joined by back court running mate Ukari Figgs. A number of former Indiana high school players were given Big Ten honors, including Lake Central's Kelly Komara (Purdue, Coaches All-Freshman Team), Blackford's Jill Chapman (Indiana, Coaches All-Freshman Team and Media Honorable Mention), Perry Meridian's Katie Douglas (Purdue, Coaches and Media Second-Team), Richmond's Lisa Shepherd (Penn State, Coaches and Media Honorable Mention). Also, several Indiana college players were honored, including Cindy Kerns (Indiana, Coaches and Media Honorable Mention), and Camille Cooper and Michelle Duhart (Purdue, Media Honorable Mention). Also, Purdue head coach Carolyn Peck was named Coaches and Media's Big Ten Coach of the Year. You can check out all the Big Ten Honors awards at the Big Ten web site.

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