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 2021-22 season.
Today, we unveil five of the best in the area at positions No. 45-41.
No. 45 Ella Bickel, Heritage
The Patriots stayed close to their constant level of play last year when they were expected to drop off and Ella Bickel had a big part in that. Now a senior, she will be the one to lead the cause for the Patriots in a pretty interesting ACAC. Bickel has now been, low key, one of the best players in the conference for two seasons and the three sport athlete is going to draw a lot of high level defenses this year because of the effort she pushes forward with.
Bickel averaged a team best 13.7 points per game last season and immediately showed her key player worth with 16 and 18 points in two of her first three games of the season. She impressed against SAC competition which showcased her strong athletic nature with 19 points in a narrow win over Wayne and 16 in a narrow loss to Northrop. Bickel’s season high was 24 against Southern Wells and against Woodlan in wins but she also scored over 20 points in losses to Adams Central and Bluffton. She went 6-of-8 from three point range twice in the season and hit four threes in a game three other times.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ELLA BICKEL
“Ella is tough, reliable and consistent on both ends of the court. She is not only a great shooter, but also positively impacts the game in so many other ways. Ella leads by example through her work ethic, positive attitude and her competitiveness. She is a great teammate and is willing to do whatever her team needs in the moment.” – Heritage coach Nicole Sisson
No. 44 Peyton Hartsough, Lakeland
While a breakout year really is expected out of Hartsough, she has not gotten there yet as she tries to live up to the family name and keep Lakeland playing at a really high level. She did average 7.4 points per game last season as the Lakers stayed in the thick of the NECC title race. It took Hartsough some time to really establish herself as a threat last season but when she scored 20 points against Fremont seven games in, there was really no hiding her from opponents anymore.
Hartsough will look to up her field goal percentage and consistency but with an enhanced role, there is no reason to think that she won’t do that based on her body of work so far. As a junior, look for Hartsough to help Lakeland as a spot up shooter, but also to be comfortable bringing the ball up the court too as she had five or more assists on six different occasions. She also registered six steals each against Fremont and Westview last season.
COACH’S QUOTE ON PEYTON HARTSOUGH
“She will distribute the ball extremely well and be a three point shooter and scorer as well. She will also be a great defender. She will be a big leader this year for us.” – Lakeland coach Dale Gearhart
No. 43 Kristen Wynn, South Adams
Wynn will be the senior leader for a South Adams team expected to compete for the ACAC title. She has seen the ups and downs, good and bad of this program and with some of the major offensive pressure off her thanks to the Pries sisters, she can continue to settle more into her role handling the intangibles for the Starfires. Wynn is a high volume shooter when she needs to be and it is huge for South Adams to have a player like her that is confident to find and take her shot. She scored a season best 23 points against Blackhawk Christian on a season best 82 percent shooting, showing how clutch she can be when handling the major reigns.
She was 4-of-6 from deep in that game and also shot 5-of-7 from three point range against Southern Wells. Her shot is pretty pure when she has space, so it will be interesting to see if she can create that space for herself this season. What really is her strength is when she can chip in where South Adams needs her: sometimes she is a high level defender, sometimes she is a top notch rebounder, sometimes she can be a solid distributor and when she puts it all together – 17 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists vs. Union City – the Starfires are going to succeed.
No. 42 LonDynn Betts, Concordia Lutheran
One of the most energy driven defenders in the SAC, Betts has developed from an underclassman looking to make energy laden impacts into a more well rounded player that Concordia can build on under a new coach for the first time in what seems like forever. Her experience is critical as she played over 29 minutes per game last season while playing in all 32 games. Can she become a better scorer as the number two returner in points for the Cadets? She was consistent in how she scored to hit 6.6 points per game, but it will fun to see if she can average more consistently.
When she isn’t scoring though, Betts has become a solid distributor, leading Concordia with 3.5 assists per game last season. She had 11 in the very first game of the season and then had five or more assists on five different occasions. But to watch a game, you’d see how much numbers can lie because Betts makes you feel like she is involved in almost 100 percent of the action in a game. Her fire and energy is contagious.
COACH’S QUOTE ON LONDYNN BETTS
“LonDynn is a floor general and we will need her experience and maturity this year as we work with our younger girls on adjusting to the Varsity level. She provides a spark when she’s on the court and does a great job of running the offense while also playing hard-nosed defense.” – Concordia Lutheran coach Nicole Bolinger
No. 41 Kylie Caswell, Angola
Part of Angola’s really talented Class of 2024, Caswell will see her expectations rise in all facets of the game. She proved herself competent in handling the ball even against some of the best other point guards in the NECC. Quickly that will help her establish a pace and tone for Angola to start the year and that isn’t something that many teams can lean on when the season tips off.
Caswell’s speed and intensity matches the pace that Angola has played on the defensive end for years. It will help again on the defensive end where a scrappy Caswell will be the first line of defense and used to turn over the other teams on a regular basis. But that speed and grit will also help Caswell fight off the enhanced pressure she could see as a sophomore when handling the ball for Angola. Caswell can beat most of the conference up and down the court with ease.
COACH’S QUOTE ON KYLIE CASWELL
“Kylie is our PG who is scrappy and relentless on defense and really sets the tone for how we want to play the game. She does a great job getting us into our offense and putting pressure on the defense in a hurry. She’s another one who puts a ton of time in and really has worked hard to improve her game in a variety of ways. We believe Ky Ky is going to have a great for us!” – Angola coach Nick Burlingame
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