Girls basketball in June is in full swing and several area teams are already deep into their schedule while others are starting to find a stride together with new players or new coaches…or both.
The June shootout circuit took Bounce to South Whitley on Tuesday as Whitko and coach Justin Jordan hosted their first ever Lady Wildcat Shootout. It brought in nine other schools, including five other schools that are also in the Outside the Huddle coverage area.
Here are some quick takeaways from the day of some really fun games. As always, my disclaimer, this is June so take all of the good and bad in stride.
The host team is a young one with everyone returning from last year’s campaign that started a rebuild. Youth will continue to be something that Jordan and his team have to fight against but there were still some quite positive moments for the Wildcats. One moment that may go unnoticed but deserves acknowledgment is the fact that Whitko also participated in the day’s junior varsity side and it shows that already the Wildcat numbers are growing by being able to field a fiesta JV team.
On the varsity side, junior to be Brookelynn Coburn has a pretty solid upside. The post worked the floor well, surveys where everyone is and moves solidly. Her role in the Whitko press break was run well and she is a key piece in making sure that Whitko doesn’t succumb to full court pressure. Offensively at the basket, she is tough and rebounds the ball well. Confidence in scoring will wise, but she is going to get opportunities and plenty of them if she can keep rebounding aggressively.
Speaking of surveying the court, sophomore to be returning leading scorer Kloe Krieg showed quality composure against pressure and her eyes are always working as she reads the game. She didn’t score much in what I saw of Whitko but we know she can do that so growth in other areas is important. Kylie Fugett, a senior to be, is important to lead by example and she was able to find some comfort zones that helped push her team in critical moments against Westview on Tuesday.
Two incoming freshmen that were fun to watch were Adrianna Phillips and Braisha Harrison. They are credible ball handlers who can push back against defensive efforts well. Phillips actually first caught my attention during a JV game and it carried over to the varsity level where she has great effort in attacking the rim. For a team who is working on confidence to grow, her confidence immediately is a boost.
This is one of those days where you don’t learn much new usually about a team like Garrett. Their starting lineup has long been set and we will get to those five as well, but we know what we are getting from them most times.
Injury and illness, even if they were short term, did help Garrett get to work with their varsity depth a little bit and in June, that was actually a good thing.
First and foremost in getting a better extended look was Abby Weaver. She has been the person to spell Morgan Ostrowski for a while now to keep a post presence for Garrett, but when Ostrowski went out injured in game one on Tuesday, it meant high quality time for Weaver against Northridge, Snider, Crestview (Ohio) and Northrop. These were the type of minutes that are going to make Weaver better and tougher. Her confidence was higher than I have seen it, she worked the post well, boxed out hard and looked to involved in the offense scoring the ball and not just being a body.
Senior to be Kaitlyn Bergman and junior Aida Haynes also stepped in to provide more depth. Having more quality ball handlers is only going to make Garrett better and it means they don’t have to lean on their starters as hard as they have in the past. Bergman brought confidence in how she played and Haynes had a quick first step as they got good time against some tough 4A schools.
While time watching Ostrowski was limited on Tuesday, the other usual Garrett suspects were on full display. Full disclosure, it wasn’t the best of days for a couple of them with Taylor Gerke making really great moves to the rim but not having some of those shots fall and Nataley Armstrong having an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers at the wrong time. But the toughness to fight through that shows an enhanced maturity and that remains impressive. Now as seniors, they can’t afford to pout after a bad possession and they didn’t. Gerke shook it off well that her shots weren’t falling, which is great because she really was making fantastic moves to get to the rim through contact.
Armstrong stayed dialed in too, with her ability to communicate with coach Bob Lapadot in game being a great part of this team’s development.
A young Westview team had a lot of growing pains last year and they are still working through some major parts of those this June. That said, I was highly impressed by the effort and energy given to this team as they continue to search for efficiency.
Getting senior to be Hailey Miller involved really helped their tempo on Tuesday against both Whitko and Churubusco. Westview was getting some quality post feeds to Miller and letting her battle down low during the summer is only going to increase her ability to do so it a decently big and physical NECC.
Juniors to be Andrea Miller and Sara Lapp were willing to push the pace with the ball in their hands coming up the court. As the afternoon went on, Lapp was probably the most aggressive Warrior on the offensive end, working hard to get to the rim and playing through contact. She was a crucial body on both ends in an overtime loss to Whitko where she really stood out to me. Miller was a fire starter early in the day as Westview got their feet wet against Crestview (Ohio), playing well through the first wave of defensive pressure at the top of the key.
If Westview is to compete in the NECC, they will have to find depth and on the perimeter, we saw some really good things from another junior to be in Kamryn Miller, as well as incoming freshman Morgan Regisecker. It is always nice to see a young kid come in, step up and seem to have the mental wherewithal to handle pressure moments and it looks like we did and will get that out of Regisecker.
It may only be June but Snider was clutch in close wins over Garrett and Northridge. Those are really nice looking wins on the surface and when you look closer, there are a lot of great moments for a team who now has to step up fully as the leaders even still being so young.
Jordyn Poole was one of those who really took responsibility in leading this team. It is no secret that she is very, very good as a scorer and she delivered a few times on Tuesday even if her jump shot wasn’t on as usual a lot of the time. Instead of forcing, she worked to get to the rim. Because she draws so much attention, it allowed others to step up; but in a lot of ways it worked because Poole turned into a big facilitator. The desire of this group to be unselfish makes them stand out and Poole was the front runner of that on Tuesday.
And, of course, those other sophomores to be were on great display too. Destini Craig was arguably Snider’s best scorer on Tuesday. She was able to score in a lot of ways, attacked fully in transition and ran backdoor plays to near perfection. Craig’s energy and aggressiveness has risen even since the end of the season. Her work beside Johnea Donahue was probably the most fun to watch for me on Tuesday of any team. The duo plays so well off each other and again, willing to facilitate. Donahue did about what was expected of her, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great to watch. Even as Northridge’s coach tried to talk his players through defending Donahue on the baseline, she still often got to the rim at will. What really stood out about Donahue was he defense, especially her ability to back tap the ball from players who thought they were in the clear with her behind them. She poked the ball loose a lot to get a transition offense going for Snider.
While missing a piece inside, Snider had to rely on a lot of playing time for Samantha Kabisch who rebounded the ball well. With improved aggression and figuring out how to use her size better, Kabish could be a great force. Sophomore to be Ciara Sims caught my eye with her aggression and leadership. She was very vocal and had no issue jumping in against tough defenses and handling that pressure.
Freshman to be Brie Barnes found herself in the starting lineup on Tuesday. She is learning how to be a hybrid player because she is going to have to be tough in the post herself on the high school level. She plays hard, moves around the floor well and doesn’t look to be lacking confidence when she does shoot the ball, something I personally think she should do a little more.
The Eagles are one of those teams that are searching for an identity under a second year coach and have to replace their best player in meantime.
Senior to be Brelle Shearer was an offensive catalyst in a lot of ways on Tuesday as the Eagles worked on this identity. She played with control and aggression against Westview and helped dictate an offense that had to work to find some consistency. Shearer really looked like she is a grinder for this group and there is a lot of positives to build on from her play.
Kenna Hamman showed progress on Tuesday with her movement in the post, allowing her team to learn to play off of her rather than around her. Another strength of Churubusco’s size was Gabby Orth. The incoming freshman handled the paint pretty well defensively. She isn’t what I would call a stopper yet, but Orth’s movement and IQ did help slow up opposing offenses.
Both Cara and Jorja DeBolt flashed good signs of promise. Cara handled the ball admirably and could be a someone Churubusco relies on that department while younger sister Jorja was one of the more lively players on the court, not really prone to take a play off.
Hailee Gearte was another solid piece on the perimeter as a willing ball handler who wanted to get to the rim.
The first look at the Katie Jackson led Northrop is the ultimate growing in June situation. A new coach playing without arguably her top two players means that a lot of different faces had to step in and play quality minutes.
Of course, Nevaeh Jackson was a focal point of early offense and it was possibly the most aggressive we have seen Jackson outside of the AAU circuit. She had a lot of composure in working the Northrop offense and her game highly resembled injured sister Saniya. It was odd to see her in Bruin orange but she looks like she is already clicking really well with her new team.
Amanda Thatcher was at her best again on Tuesday but she always seems to be able to kick it into the next gear. Having a third different coach in three years doesn’t seem to be effecting her much at this point. She is rambunctious and high spirited in the way she brings the ball up the court and controls the offense. She didn’t hold back and it was enjoyable watching her attack the best defense other teams could throw at her.
When you talk about high levels of aggression on both sides of the ball, I really like Kamiyah Johnson and how she played on Tuesday. She fought for every inch on both ends of the floor and is another driving force in how Northrop looks so strong so quickly. Alexa Robinson added to that mentality playing a little bit inside and out. There is room to grow for the Bruins, but the foundation is laid and Tuesday was a big step for this team.
Ilijana Miljokovic and Ava Kahn also gave quality minutes on the perimeter in a reserve role. Once Northrop is fully healthy, their roles will likely be less but in June its great to get this experience.
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