NOW PREVIEWING: Hall of Fame Classic, Girls Edition

Norwell’s Maiah Shelton defends during a December 12 game against Garrett.

This year’s girls basketball Hall of Fame Classic will be played on Tuesday, December 29 at New Castle High School. While, like everything else, this tournament will look much different in 2020, it is still a really big deal. A Northeast Indiana team will return to the girls Hall of Fame Classic as Outside the Huddle’s #1 ranked area team, Norwell, will be in action.

Games begin at 11 a.m. with Norwell facing Mt. Vernon (Fortville) with a game between Fishers and Evansville Memorial to follow. The consolation game will then be played at 6 p.m. with the championship game to follow that.

Played each December, the four-team event has been hosted at the New Castle’s Fieldhouse since 1990. The girls’ tournament has included 18 teams that went on to win a state championship that season, including 11 state champions and six state runner-up teams in the past 17 years alone.



The Tigers come in winners of 10 straight after a disappointing loss to Ben Davis early in the season. This is absolutely the team to beat on the day, the 4th ranked team in Class 4A who the IBCA has ranked 5th in the state regardless of class. They are actually winning by less than 10 points per contest on average, which is huge on this day because they know how to win tight games against quality opponents. Katie Burton’s 23 points per game average makes her the highest scoring player in the field, with four games over 30 points while shooting 51 percent from the field. As a reigning Indiana Junior All-Star, Burton is going to be near impossible to stop on the day. Fishers has a lot of dangerous options with seniors Audra Emmerson and Katie Howard and sophomores Olivia and Hailey Smith all capable of putting out big games. Top to bottom, the Tigers have the most dangerous roster at the Hall of Fame Classic.

Fishers is making their first ever appearance in the Hall of Fame Classic.



The top ranked team here at OTH for Northeast Indiana, Norwell is the number two team in Class 3A and IBCA’s 18th ranked team overall in the state. Their lineup is well known for the three headed monster of Maiah Shelton, Lauren Bales and Kaylee Fuelling but everyone is stepping in to find roles. Mackinzie Tolliver is a fourth guard and true one that is a solid facilitator and Grace Bradtmueller has developed into a solid inside presence in true post play. If it is a day where Kennedy Fuelling is hitting her triples, it really leaves opposing defenses chasing significantly. Norwell has appeared in the Hall of Fame Classic once before and if you follow Northeast Indiana basketball, you know the Knights push a frantic and really fun pace all of the time.



This is a very good team that got a tough draw in Fishers, though that is probably the point of the Hall of Fame Classic. Evansville Memorial is the 3rd ranked Class 3A team in the state and ranked 10th overall by the IBCA regardless of class. Entering the Hall of Fame Classic as one of two unbeaten teams at 8-0, the Tigers are winning by almost 30 points per game and haven’t really been challenged yet; their closest game to this point is a 21 point win over Boonville. Because of that, they have been able to play a wealth of girls with 11 different players appearing in all eight games to this point, led by senior Ryleigh Anslinger and a squad that shoots 43 percent from the field. This is a consistent bunch but their level of opponent hasn’t been significant all season with only half of their opponents sitting above .500 on the year. Sophomore Emily Mattingly can also sling it, hitting 13-of-23 threes (57%) on the season. Evansville Memorial is making their third appearance in the Hall of Fame Classic.


At 5-3, the Marauders come in with the worst record in the field, but a 10-point loss to East Central is their only significant blemish in that time. It is a team with a good deal of experience, led by Lexi Shelton but freshman Ellery Minch is a very intriguing prospect to watch. As the only non-ranked (IBCA Top 20 or ICGSA 4A Top 10) team in the field at New Castle, they certainly will have to play with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. This team is however 2-1 since their quarantine and coach Julie Shelton is one of the best active coaches in the state; she has a state title from 2013. So overlooking Mt. Vernon completely would be foolish still. It is worth noting that they’ve played just one game with their entire lineup intact. Mt. Vernon won the 1999 Hall of Fame Classic and is making their fourth appearance in the event.



Just a sophomore, Smith brings a ridiculous effort to the court. She leads this team in rebounds (7), assists (2.5) and steals (2.2) and still averages 7.8 points per game. Her tempo is solid and she can really change the pace on both sides of the ball, which is a rare trait. Smith did miss Fishers’ most recent game on December 21 for reasons we are unaware of. Should she be good to go on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see how she can alter what other people on opposing teams try to do in taking the lead on pacing.


One thing is clear, Fuelling is absolutely the poster child of controlled chaos. And it doesn’t look controlled a lot of the time, but Fuelling seems to always be in control of herself. She has the ability to slow down the most frantic moments in her own mind and it makes her a great threat in transition. Whether she is the leader offensively or not, expect Fuelling to get involved in as many ways as possible.


Anslinger is a steady threat in nearly every skill but actually only leads Evansville Memorial in scoring 14.3 points per game. Her 1.1 turnovers per game is a solid thing to look at though as the ball travels through her hands a lot and she makes few mistakes with it. You’ll be hearing this a lot about top players in this Classic, but when Anslinger gets hot, she can really hit. She opened the season with a 6-of-10 outing from downtown against Tecumseh.


The team leader in scoring (14.1) and rebounding (6.4), Shelton is a hard charger, much like the player of the same last name she will face in the morning against Norwell. She is a really big threat from long range if she gets hot and is capable of some lights out shooting.


The placement of teams as contender and favorite give this away. Fishers is a high level program and I expect their first session game with Evansville Memorial to be the best game on this day. I could be wrong of course because no game at the Hall of Fame Classic should be bad. So give me Fishers and Norwell in the morning games. The Knights are going to have a nice Shelton battle as their Maiah takes on Mt. Vernon’s Lexi but the momentum of a faster game favors Norwell.

As for the consolation game, I will take Evansville Memorial. If they were facing anyone by Fishers in the morning, they are likely playing in the championship game. As for the championship game, my pick is for Fishers to hand Norwell their first loss of the season. The Tigers are just so top heavy with balance and I think they are the best team on this day.

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