NOW PREVIEWING: Hall of Fame Classic

Friday and Saturday will see the annual Hall of Fame Classic to be played at the historic New Castle High School gymnasium. The fieldhouse at New Castle is the world’s largest high school gym in the world with a seating capacity of 9,325 officially.

Playing in the Hall of Fame Classic is a big honor in the closing days of December every year and to close out 2018, Northeast Indiana will have a team represented in Friday’s girls tournament and Saturday’s boys tournament. Homestead’s girls and Westview’s boys will both play in their respective four team brackets.


Bedford North Lawrence (13-2) vs. Northwestern (11-2), 11 a.m.

Homestead (12-1) vs. Jeffersonville (9-5), to follow

Consolation game, 6 p.m.

Championship game, to follow


The Spartans will be playing their second and third games in three days during Friday’s Classic and somewhat fresh off their first loss of the season last Friday to North Central. How do the bounce back? That would normally be the question. But this year, the question is how do they balance this hectic schedule? If the Spartans make a run at the SAC Tournament title, they could be playing five games in two locations in three days. Those game times: 4 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. Friday, 6 or 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Spartans are going to have to stay fresh and balance what is more important. They can’t burn themselves out Friday with a heavy Saturday on their plate back home. If anything will test their might, the end of 2018 will.


Jeffersonville has as many losses as the rest of the Classic field combined and they average the least amount of points at 51. This will be their third Classic in the last 15 years for the program. Like Homestead, they will enter the classic just two games removed from a loss, dropping a December 21 game to Lawrence North.

Northwestern has four players back from the team that won the Class 3A state title last year. At 68.5 points per game, they are the highest scoring team in the Classic. They lost back to back games in November to schools from Ohio but are unbeaten in the Hoosier state. A “highlight” of their first half of the season, a 101-31 win over Taylor.

Bedford North Lawrence went to semistate last year in Class 4A and return nine players from that team. Like Northwestern, one of their losses came to the state of Ohio. They hold a win over Jeffersonville aleady this season, 38-37 in their lowest scoring game of the season.


This would be an ideal time for Sydney Graber to be able to shine for Homestead. There have been games where she has struggled to establish herself because of foul trouble. When she has been on, she has showed the form of the Indiana Junior All-Star hopeful she has expected to be locally. If Graber can control her positioning, she will be one of the tougher players to guard in the Classic.

Northwestern’s Madison Layden (33) and Stephanie Burns (30) battle Fairfield in last season’s Class 3A semi state round.


Nan Garcia is leading Jeffersonville in scoring for the second straight year. She has upped her average by three point to over 19 per game. The 6-foot junior also leads the Red Devil in rebounding and scored 39 points against Jennings County on 76 percent shooting from the field.

Madison Layden is arguably the best player in the Classic and will be a handful for any team or individual matchup. Here are the gaudy numbers: 22.5 points, 6.2 assists and 5.3 steals per game. Guards beware, this junior is coming to take over games.

6-foot senior Jorie Allen won’t have an easy go in the first round, but she will make it as tough on Northwestern as she can. At 21.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, expect her to battle for boards on the offensive end.


Around the Fort Wayne area, Rylie Parker has already had a breakout season. Parker is the biggest three point shooting threat on the court for the Spartans and that is quite the compliment. State wide, as players like Starks and Graber are respected, Parker could certainly help cement herself with a big showing in New Castle. And, as her father/coach  Rod Parker has said all season, the team feeds off Rylie. If she gets rolling, Homestead is going to play good basketball.


Kiersten Poor is averaging 8.8 points per game for Jeffersonville, but playing in the second most minutes for the team allows her to make a big impact on the floor. The 5-foot-8 junior is also averaging two steals per game.

As much at Northwestern is known for their two player punch, their entire junior class can contribute and Klair Merrell is no exception. At 6.6 points, 3.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game, her contributions doing the intangible things will be important.

Chloe McKnight is just a sophomore but has shown solid poise early for Bedford North Lawrence. As a top three option for the Stars, she could become a star herself with a good performance opposite Northwestern.


Westview (7-1) versus Center Grove (7-2), 11 a.m.

Valparaiso (7-2) versus Warren Central (5-0), to follow

Consolation game, 6 p.m.

Championship game, to follow


The Warriors will have to bounce back from their first loss of the year by playing one of the favorites for Mr. Basketball. What a prize. The good news for Westview is that hey are getting a lot of contributions from a lot of people so far. A deeper contribution list was needed after last year’s run in the Class 2A tournament stalled and coach Rob Yoder has it now. This will be a major test for Westview as the only non Class 4A team in this year’s Classic. Their 67 points per game is the third best of the four teams and they have the second largest win margin.


Center Grove will enter the Classic having played 2-win Greenwood on Thursday in a bit of a warm up game. They are scoring the least amount of the five teams and also only winning by an average of 5.5 points per game but are doing it against the 15th toughest schedule in the state. Their loss to LaLumiere wasn’t a bad one, but the glaring 40-point losing mark against Pike remains an eye widener.

Warren Central doesn’t lose much. That is this the first thing you should know about them if you don’t already. The Warriors last lost to Lawrence North in the sectional opener in 2017. The Warriors have won every game by 17 or more points. They have also won 58 of their last 61 games and are number one in the most recent sagarin ratings.

The Barak Coolman led Valparaiso Vikings dropped a heartbreaker to Marion last Friday at the Marion Classic and then picked up another loss against Zionsville the next day. How do you respond after your perfect record takes two straight hits? Coolman will make his second Classic coaching appearance after leading Northrop there in 2012.


Charlie Yoder is one of the top players in Class 2A and will get to ply his trade against what has to be considered the toughest competition of his high school basketball season career. Yoder has been the leader of this team on the court and in the scorebook all year long and the Warriors will rely heavily on him. He is a star everywhere but the biggest stages and will look to change that Friday.


Trayce Jackson-Davis
Center Grove’s Trayce Jackson-Davis has been an early favorite for Indiana’s Mr. Basketball prize.

Is there a question for Center Grove. Trayce Jackson-Davis. Trayce Jackson-Davis all day. The Indiana commit doesn’t need resume builders at this point, but he will gladly take them. At his best, Jackson-Davis is impossible to stop down low off the block. He can take over any game and each of the other three teams in this Classic will be keying on him.

Jakobie Robinson is coming off a great game in a win over Ben Davis. This could be a fantastic year for him and he will be tested. How will be play defensively against some of the state’s best scorers?

Brandon Newman of Valparaiso made our list of stars to watch last week for the Marion Classic. He started, but was out-stared by Marion’s Jalen Blackmon. Newman will look to right the Viking ship if he can get his jumper going. His dribble penetration ability however should never be questioned.


Josh Hostetler is coming off a breakout game against Lakeland last week when he had 19 points and 14 rebounds. As teams key in on known commodities in Yoder and Elijah Hales, this could be another big game potential for Hostetler.

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