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. 25-21.
No. 20 – Bridgette Gray, Central Noble
Gray has experienced tremendous growth going into her fourth varsity season for the Cougars. She has grown from a spot-on defender to be one of the best ball handlers in the NECC with a growing talent in shooting the ball. Her junior season saw her thrust into the lead player role for the Cougars and she shined, almost doubling her scoring average up to 13.5 points per game while still keeping up a tremendous shooting average. That is no easy task due to the added pressure that was thrown at Gray last season that used to be reserved for Sydney Freeman.
Defensively, Gray has not lost a step at all. She averaged a pair of a steals a game a year ago. While she is solid no matter the situation defensively, her on-ball work continues to shine and that is why she remains one of the best NECC players. With Central Noble still right there in the title hunt in the conference, the experience that Gray has in that area will be crucial headed into the new season.
COACH’S QUOTE ON BRIDGETTE GRAY
“Bridgette has an explosive first step that makes her difficult to guard in the full and half court. She has the ability to be dangerous from three night in, night out.” – Central Noble coach Josh Treesh
No. 19 – Lauren Bales, Norwell
Almost since Day 1 of her varsity career, Lauren Bales has been trusted with the ball in her hands at Norwell. That is a lot to say for a player who jumped onto the varsity level as one of a trio of freshmen in 2017. And she has come a long way since that time. Coach Eric Thornton has continued to put his trust in Bales because she is a model for consistency and has continued to be so as the Knights ramp up their tempo night in and out. She averaged 6.5 points, 2.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game during the 2019-20 season.
Norwell thrives by finding individual players and molding them into its system while not taking away their unique individual attributes and Bales is a perfect example of that. She is a natural at handling her composure and it has lent itself to becoming Norwell’s point guard. Bales is also a very talented shooter and while Norwell doesn’t need her to do it all of the time, she has a knack for picking her spots and the Knights are better for her shooting IQ.
COACH’S QUOTE ON LAUREN BALES
“We don’t win either a share of the NE8 title or the sectional title without Lauren’s clutch three-point shooting. She led us in makes from the arc for the season, but it was her gutsy performances that willed us to two key wins against Bellmont. Lauren is our point guard, the baseline defender in our 1-3-1, our glue kid…she is fearless.” – Norwell coach Eric Thornton
No. 18 – CC Calloway, South Side
One of the most high-profile moves this off-season is senior CC Calloway moving to South Side and immediately giving the Archers a second player capable of causing chaos for opposing offenses.
Calloway is a workhorse who has a style that could sometimes be erratic looking, but comes with a high success rate. Calloway’s speed makes her incredibly difficult to try and get away from. Expect to see her number of steals rise closer to what she did as a freshman at Concordia, where she stole the ball 55 times. She hasn’t come close to that since, though she played just 12 games last season. The way South defends the basketball certainly plays into her strengths and the Calloway of old should be expected.
Seeing Calloway play alongside Olivia Smith is going to be a perk for area basketball fans. She, like Smith, can play both guard positions and it really opens Calloway up to score at a higher rate. She is an intelligent point guard, but can also get to the rim with a bit of ease, which makes her mind difficult to read. We didn’t get a true read on Calloway as a junior, but we know about her big upside and pairing that with how South Side plays is more than intriguing.
COACH’S QUOTE ON CC CALLOWAY
“CC Calloway (Cierra) is a dominant leader. She is playing with the girls as if they have been playing together for some time. CC will bring some control to team and her ability to perform is always at the highest level possible. She fits right in with what we do at South.” – South Side coach Juanita Goodwell
No. 17 – Delaney Bailey, Bishop Luers
Last season, Bailey burst onto the scene as a knockdown shooter that opened up the Bishop Luers offense significantly in prominent games. She hit a team-best 35 three pointers at a 34 percent success rate. Teams are going to key on her more and more this year, but Bailey has a smooth approach to moving around the court and has one of the purest looking shots among players in the area. She shot 36 percent from the field and 68 parent from the free throw line.
On the surface, it is clear that Bailey is going to have to make up for the loss of Lydia Reimbold to graduation. But what may get lost in those expectations is Bailey is more Reimbold than anyone pays attention to. The aforementioned three-point prowess is what she is known for on the surface, but Bailey continues to get better at scoring all over the court. If she can create her own shot consistently, she is going to be a major threat in hopes of upping her 8 points per game average. Bailey is very underrated in how she cleans up, averaging 5.6 rebounds per game in 2019-20.
COACH’S QUOTE ON DELANEY BAILEY
“One of the best 3-point shooters in the area. Has developed a nice midrange game over the summer to go long with her shooting from deep.” – Bishop Luers coach Mark Pixley
No. 16 – Chloe Jolloff, Lakewood Park
The growth in Jolloff’s confidence was one of the most evident things watching her last season. Improving that aspect of her game really made her even more of a complete package than she was before. Jolloff is as good now at handling the spotlight as she has ever been and she upticked her scoring to 17 points per game while keeping a steady hand as the point guard with 4.6 assists. You don’t find players like Jolloff often that are so strong at pushing teammates success while still being able to score at such a high level. She put up two triple doubles in 2019-20 with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists (vs. North Side) and 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists (vs. Clinton Christian) and let’s be honest, triple doubles are not very easy to come by.
Jolloff is not what we would call the picture of physicality, but if you watch her play you will know she is one the area’s top players at bullying her way to the rim. She shot 158 free throws at a 68 percent success rate and shot double-digit free throws five times, including going 10-of-10 versus Lakeland Christian Academy, 9-of-11 against Elkhart Christian Academy and shot 20 free throws against Wayne. The point? Teams would rather foul her and put her on the line than let her get to the rim.
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