Girls basketball season is over, but just like last year, I am not quite done with things yet. So over the next few days, Bounce will be giving out some awards of his own, solely of my own opinion, about each of the four main conferences in our area. Don’t forget that Outside the Huddle will award their official Player of the Year and Coach of the Year coming up next week.
Today we head to the Allen County Athletic Conference.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Sage Hammond, Adams Central
Here is where the important clarity of this award comes in. Every time OTH talks MVP, it is important to point out that we focus on exactly what it stands for and it isn’t “BEST PLAYER.” Who was the most valuable to their team with what they provide? Sometimes it means the best player, sometimes it doesn’t, but specifically it is who is MOST VALUABLE to a team’s overall success. I am NOT naming a traditional conference player of the year, but focusing in this column on overall value.
Adams Central had some pitfalls to avoid to stay at the top of the conference, right there behind the power that Jay County was. They graduated a lot of leaned on talent. And then McKenna Dietsch missed a significant portion of games early in the season. Sage Hammond was there to pick up the pieces and run with them. It isn’t an easy thing to suddenly shoulder the burden that Hammond had to; but she did it.
Her VALUE, as we emphasize here, was critical. Where would the Flying Jets have been without Hammond up front early and side by side with Dietsch upon her return? She averaged 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds this season and gave Adams Central an important inside presence in a conference that works near or at the basket maybe more than any area conference we see.
Honorable Mention: Emme Boots, Bluffton; Avah Smith, Woodlan; Georgia Hanauer, Southern Wells
BREAKOUT PLAYER: Macy Pries, South Adams
If you are the Starfires, you have to enjoy that you continue to produce these breakout freshmen. The future will tell how it all plays together but it wasn’t easy to plan for the Starfires early in the year with how Pries came out firing as a freshman. She provided an important new wrinkle in opposing gameplans.
Though it has happened a lot lately in the ACAC, you don’t just see freshmen come in and make heavy impacts. Pries did so while also playing directly into the schemes established for more veteran players. She added to and didn’t take away from what the Starfires do. Her 12.7 points per game led South Adams at year’s end.
Honorable Mention: Ella Bickel, Heritage; Monroe Heller, Bluffton; Claire Bickel, Heritage
MOST UNDERRATRED: Izzy Rodgers, Jay County
Jay County was top heavy with one of the best players in the area and two of the best player in the conference. And Rodgers, an All-ACAC second team pick, was underrated because of that. She did a lot for this team beyond her 8.1 points per game. She was a steady handed anchor to the Jay County defense, which was stingy if not downright frightening. Rodgers played utility while Renna Schwieterman and Madison Dirksen took control. What you needed done to make sure big offensive efforts weren’t going to waste, Rodgers did.
She also wasn’t void of some of those big games herself. She poured in 28 points against Yorktown on 11 of 16 shooting and hit 40 percent of her shots throughout the season.
Honorable Mention: Ella Bickel, Heritage; Madison Dirksen, Jay County; Kristen Wynn, South Adams, Natalie Lehrman, Bluffton
COACH OF THE YEAR: Kirk Comer, Jay County
This is a bit of a no brainer because Comer has developed a well oiled machine with the Patriots over the years and this season’s team was no exception. He game planned, they knew what to do and rarely did he need to raise his voice or get too active during games. Comer has developed this group, while still relatively young, to respond and react to almost anything that comes their way.
Dynasties are fun. Jay County is that in the ACAC and you have to give a lot of credit to Comer and his staff for cultivating that.
Honorable Mention: Eric Mounsey, Bluffton; Doug Curtis, Adams Central
GAME OF THE YEAR: Jay County vs Adams Central, ACAC final January 16
This game was was tight and well contested as any Jay County game this season. Tied after one, Adams Central really started to gain footing in the second quarter behind McKenna Dietsch, who had 14 first half points. The second half saw Jay County tighten up inside, both defensively and on the offensive end. It was the offensive end that caused Adams Central problems as they had to focus on the post and it opened up Jay County for some shots from range that pushed them back ahead. Renna Schwieterman became the tournament MVP with 30 points in the finals for Jay County.
Honorable Mention: Adams Central at Jay County, December 11; South Adams at Woodlan, January 23; Bluffton at Adams Central, December 19; Adams Central at Heritage, January 8
BOUNCE’S PICK TO BE 2022 ACAC CHAMPS: Jay County
When you only graduate one player and return five players who each played in 23 games, you are in pretty good shape. Add in that Renna Schwieterman is one of the area’s best players regardless of class or conference, the Patriots are heavy, heavy favorites to retain their crown next season.
They will return 46.7 points per game, which sounds low but its a lot when you realize how stout their defense is and that the Patriots averaged 49.6 points per game this season. The ACAC should be really fun next season with teams jockeying for position and post season momentum. But I’d be shocked if anyone challenged Jay County for the top spot.
These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH