Outside the Huddle and Bounce are counting down who it feels are the top 50 individual girls basketball players in northeast Indiana heading into the 2020-21 season.
Today, we unveil five of the best in the area at positions No. 35-31.
No. 35 – Karly Kirkpatrick, East Noble
When you talk about grit in a conference where the guard play will wear on you, Kirkpatrick took a major leap during her junior year. She takes an aggressive approach to her play and prides herself on getting wins in a variety of scenarios while she is on the court. Kirkpatrick is the kind of hard charger you want leading your team’s tempo and enthusiasm.
One of six returning players to see action in all 26 games last season, Kirkpatrick averaged a team third best 6.6 points per game. But it isn’t Kirkpatrick’s scoring that helps her stand out from teammates and opponents alike. Instead, it is that aforementioned aggression as a 5-foot-9 combo guard that can defend at least four positions on the court. Her numbers in statistics more measurable by hustle had her second in rebounds (4.0) and first in assists (3.1) and steals (2.3) per game. She also was second in fouls per game but let’s be honest, to do the gritty work that Kirkpatrick does, you have to get your hands a little dirty.
COACH’S QUOTE ON KARLY KIRKPATRICK
“You bring a girl who is a four year starter, you bring a whole lot of experience, energy, an absolute love for the game and just an unbridled excitement to play. She brings a whole lot of effort. Her ball handling skills have improved tremendously from last year. She has been in the weight room and gotten incredibly stronger; put some muscle mass on. We’ve worked incredibly hard on her shot, she has put in a lot of time.” – East Noble coach Shawn Kimmel
No. 34 – Delane Sheets, Carroll
Notice a trend here: hard workers. There may not be a more bull-headed force in the SAC than Sheets and she plays with that intense focus written all over her face.
Sheets is really going to pride herself in getting at your defensively. One of the hallmarks of her game is that she doesn’t often settle for just a defensive stance that will make an opposing offensive player pass the ball; she wants to take that ball. Sheets will get her hands in passing lanes, but is just as good at – or better at – stripping the ball clean from a player who isn’t taking care of it. She will jab at the ball, get on the floor and do those intangible things you need from a defender. She stole the ball 1.7 times per game last season.
But Sheets hustles on the other end of the court as well. She helps push the tempo in transition well as a solid ball handler when called upon and by filling the lanes when she isn’t leading the break. Her improvements were noticeable even from the holiday break through the Chargers’ Sectional title win over Northrop. No matter what her numbers are, Sheets is going to provide in every category nightly.
COACH’S QUOTE ON DELANE SHEETS
“Delane Sheets is a hard-nosed player. She works very hard on the court. She gives us hustles plays as well as extra offensive possessions. Delane is an improve shooter and a great passer. She has a quick first step which helps her drive to the basket. She is improving on moving without the ball. Delane is a very unselfish player. On defense, she anticipates very well and reads offensive players. Delane has a great understanding of the game as well as a basketball IQ.” – Carroll coach Mark Redding
No. 33 – Brea Garber, Fairfield
Expectations were already high for Garber when she entered the high school program last year because of how she excelled in middle school. And the people that expected a lot of her were right. She instantly made Fairfield a contender and meshed very well immediately with her upperclassmen teammates, some who had seen success and others who had been stuck in a rebuilding year.
Youthful enthusiasm goes a long way and that his how Garber played. Unlike many other freshmen, even some of her wilder ninth grade tendencies worked for her, creating chaos defensively.
Garber’s length made her a problem around the court because she can play most, if not all, positions on both offense and defense. She is long and only got stronger as the season went on, averaging nine points and 5.5 rebounds per contest. Another sign of Garber’s current and future success is how she comfortably fell into playing for father Brodie; that is not always an easy task for players with their coach/parent.
COACH’S QUOTE ON BREA GARBER
“Brea has the versatility to play any position on the court for us offensively or defensively. After having one full year in the weight room she has definitely increased her strength from last year. We are looking forward to Brea’s all around game to help make our team as successful as possible.” – Fairfield coach Brodie Garber
No. 32 – Emme Boots, Bluffton
Boots will come into her senior season as a fourth-year varsity starter and the chance to cement herself as being one of the best Tigers ever when she undoubtedly hits the 1,000-point scoring mark.
It is possible that the evolution of Boots’ game slowed a bit during the 2019-20 season after skyrocketing during her first two years. It was a bit of a bumpy road as she had to take on massive roles in leadership and contribution as a junior due to some graduation losses. Don’t let that take you away from what Boots does so well.
At her core, Boots is someone who can create her own looks, often high percentage ones, even if her numbers dipped as a junior in that way. She knows when and where to pick her spots. She can learn a lot from last season as she builds her confidence back up to make Bluffton once again a contender. She averaged a team best 12.4 points per game with her defensive effort maybe surpassing her offense for the first time in her career with 1.92 steals and 1.96 deflections per game.
COACH’S QUOTE ON EMME BOOTS
“Emme Boots has been an integral part of our success including Back to Back Sectional Championships in 2018 & 2019, and a Sectional Runner-Up this past season. Emme is poised to become a 1,000 point scorer. Her work ethic and love for the game has allowed her to continue to grow as a basketball player, and has put her in the position to make an impact at the collegiate level. As a Bluffton Lady Tiger she has been an outstanding role model for her high school teammates and players throughout our entire program. Emme has put in the time and work this offseason to have another successful season for the Bluffton Lady Tigers.” – Bluffton coach Eric Mounsey
No. 31 – Taylor Double, Huntington North
Very few, if any, Class of 2023 players stepped up to the varsity level as smoothly as Double did a year ago. There were a lot of pieces to make Huntington North a top half team in the NE8 again, but Double was at the forefront of that, even on the cusp of being considered as an All-Area player. She led Huntington North with 7.8 points per game, but the team only averaged just over 39 per game because of a very methodical pace. Double shot 64.8 percent from inside the three point arc and 72 percent from the free throw line, really making the best of her opportunities as a freshman.
Double is someone you can trust the ball in their hands with next to no reservations and that is saying quite a bit because of her age and the high level of guard play in the Northeast 8. She makes intelligent plays, reads the floor and is adept at penetrating gaps in opposing defenses; she led Huntington North at 2.7 assists per game last season.
COACH’S QUOTE ON TAYLOR DOUBLE
“Taylor led us in almost every category last year as a freshmen. She is a very humble player and loves to get her teammates involved. She has worked extremely hard this off-season at being more aggressive and we will look to her to step up her scoring this season. The ball will be in her hands a lot this year. She is trustworthy to make really good decisions with the basketball and although she is a sophomore she has earned the right to make decisions out there on the court each night.” – Huntington North coach Matt Hinds
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