As Central Noble lost last Saturday in the semistate round, we will have no local teams playing this weekend for a state title. But what a season it was, and a seemingly quick one, for the ladies around the Northeast Indiana area.
We saw records set, outstanding defensive efforts and continued domination in three of our four area conferences.
So in the end, just like my football counterpart Blitz did, I am going give out some honors to just a few of these great efforts and players. These are all the choices of me, Bounce, but check out Outside the Huddle on March 1 when the braintrust names their official Outside the Huddle All-Area team and Player of the Year for the 2018-2019 season.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
SHELBY CALDWELL, JAY COUNTY
We’ve said it before on this website, but let me reiterate. MVP and “Player of the Year” are two completely different animals to us. The MVP honor is just what the acronym is – which player was the most valuable to their team’s success?
When looking down our list at what player had the single biggest impact on their team overall, all signs pointed to Caldwell. Not to say that Jay County was a one woman show at all, but almost ever other team in the area had more than a single star. At Jay County, Caldwell kept the Patriots pumping at the top of the ACAC, where they have won or shared the conference all five years they have been in it.
Caldwell averaged 18.3 points and 6.7 rebounds while breaking all kinds of records in the program’s history. She had help — no team was a one girl team this year — but without Caldwell, it is easy for me to say that the Patriots wouldn’t have run through their tough schedule as successfully.
HONORABLE MENTION: Snider’s Da’Leshia Davis, Bellmont’s Grace Hunter, Homestead’s Kara Gealy, Norwell’s Maiah Shelton
NORWELL AT BELLMONT, JANUARY 14
I said it out of this game and I have no problem reiterating that his first clash between the NE8’s best soared ahead as the best girls basketball game I saw this season. The game went back and forth, was critically physical and made every player be a factor. While Grace Hunter of Bellmont was the superstar, Bellmont pushed ahead in the end because of the depth of their abilities. Meghan Busick and Emma Keane both stepped up in critical moments for Bellmont.
It had everything you wanted, from a half ending buzzer beater to an intense crowd to big moments. The fact it was delayed two days because of weather made the tension only rise between these two rivals. They rematched in the Sectional with the same result, a Bellmont win, but that one just didn’t have the same magic as the NE8 deciding game.
HONORABLE MENTION: Angola versus Marion (Regional final), Bishop Dwenger versus Carroll (SAC Tournament), Heritage at Woodlan, Norwell at Homestead
COACH OF THE YEAR
JOSH TREESH, CENTRAL NOBLE
When your one blemish is a semistate loss, how can you not be lauded for your work? Treesh’s best work had come a year ago when he led the Cougars to a state title and his body of work for the last three years will long be something of lore in Albion. But Bounce has no problem saying that maybe, just maybe, his leadership excelled even more this year. That is not just because Central Noble started 27-0 and were one of the last three girls teams in the state without a loss.
Treesh had a different state of mind this season, it was as clear from the stands as I am sure it was from the sidelines. The state title relaxed Treesh and a relaxed Treesh who could develop into intense was fun to watch. He and his staff developed the team to be strong behind the program’s top two players ever and that led to enhanced success. He had all of his bases covered and it showed on the scoreboard every night.
HONORABLE MENTION: Angola’s Brandon Appleton, Bellmont’s Andy Heim, Homestead’s Rod Parker
RYLIE PARKER, HOMESTEAD
This may have been the hardest category for Bounce to decide because a lot of players became standouts in a lot of different ways. For Parker we knew she was a shooter, it is in her DNA. But the way she broke out as a player that Homestead could rely on in the primary scoring role was kind of unexpected when you knew that Ayanna Patterson, Sylare Starks, Sydney Graber and Haley Swing all had more experience doing so. The Spartans never relied on one girl in that role, but to add Parker to the list of girls they could have in that spot was huge for them.
Anytime you can be the player on the court that opposing coaches yell at their players about when you get open, referring to you as ‘the shooter,’ you know your reputation is set. Parker was a role player last year, a bit part. Now she is a star.
HONORABLE MENTION: Lakeland’s Bailey Hartsough, Central Noble’s Bridgette Gray, South Side’s TLaizha Morris, Bishop Luers’ Katelynn Gray
BIGGEST SURPRISE TEAM
This Bruin team reminds Bounce of the early years of the 2018 graduating class. But unlike that class, Northrop found success this year with the team of freshmen and sophomores. Then the Class of 2018 were in those seasons, they won nine total games as they developed and earned necessary experience. This year’s group of ninth and tenth graders went 13-10 and were a win away from a Sectional title. In a year where we just expected Northrop to be down — and although they finished eighth in the SAC — most statistics point to them being the fifth best team in the city’s conference when you look at all encompassing facts.
HONORABLE MENTION: Carroll, Fremont, Heritage
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