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. 30-26.
No. 30 Amanda Thatcher, Northrop
For years now, Thatcher has been right there on the cusp of of being one the best point guards in the area. Consistency within the program this year could really see her take off. She is a high quality ball handler and that is something that is a bit of premium in the area any given year. She has a very solid balance of frantically pushing the pace and and control with the ball in her hands. It makes the start of any Northrop offensive possession very difficult to defend. Her. 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game last year are a bit of a lie when looking at her overall skillset.
In the SAC, it is often huge to have a good controlled chaos player like Thatcher. On top of that, she brings great experience to the team. The senior has been a featured player in different ways since she was a freshman and that feature will just grow under a new head coach this season. 62 games into her varsity career, Thatcher is coming off her best offensive season yet, averaging 7.5 points per game in 2020-21. She sniffed a triple double last year in a win over Bishop Dwenger with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
COACH’S QUOTE ON AMANDA THATCHER
“The quarterback of our team, primary ballhandler. She is embracing her role as the “mother” of our team; she holds us all together, on and off the court. Her court sense, ability to score, and pass; make her a triple threat!” – Northrop coach Katie Jackson
No. 29 Avah Smith, Woodlan
Smith established herself as one of, if not the single best, post in the ACAC last season. She led the conference in rebounding with 9.4 per contest as a sophomore. That goes one of two ways: the ACAC is not post heavy, yet at the same time it means that Smith was and will continue to be able to carve out a niche for herself in this conference. If she has progressed as much since last season as she did over the 2020-21 season, she could find herself in a very dominant position in this new season. That is critical in a conference with a pretty clear top team but a lot of room for movement in the contenders spot.
Smith led Woodlan at 14.1 points per game and had double figures in 17 of 22 games, led by 26 is a tough close loss to South Adams late in the season. Smith’s prowess around the rim is strong though she need to improve her consistency with just two games over 60 percent shooting, including going 12 of 17 in that South Adams game. Smith posted eight double doubles in 2020-21 with 19 rebounds and 12 points against Blackhawk Christian.
COACH’S QUOTE ON AVAH SMITH
“Avah was the leading rebounder in the ACAC last season. She is a double double machine. Avah has worked hard on her offensive game this season. She’s a great athlete that can cause match up problems for opponents.” – Woodlan coach Gary Cobb
No. 28 Dakotah Krohn, Woodlan
Krohn has been through the wringer with Woodlan and will return as the second leading scorer from last year’s team where she averaged a career best 10.6 points per game. Krohn was throw into the fire as a freshman and had one of the best 9th grade seasons that year in the area, developed more as a sophomore and then in 2020-21 as a junior, had to take control and leadership of the team. She does that by pitching a frantic pace, especially on the defensive end. Krohn is deceptively long in how she plays and it really can alter a game.
She does a little bit of everything, adding in averages last season of 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game with six games of four or more steals mixed in. She also had five assists games on four different occasions. All of that said and Krohn’s scoring may still be the most intriguing part of her game. She had some off shooting nights that hurt her average, but Krohn beat that averaged 11 of her 22 games, including 20 points against Churubusco and 22 against Fremont. Krohn will attack from anywhere on the floor with her shot, making her difficult to predict for defenders.
COACH’S QUOTE ON DAKOTAH KROHN
“Dakotah has developed into a fine all round player. A four year starter, She can defend with the best of them and on offense her 3 point shooting has improved and Dakotah can attack opponents off the dribble. Looking for her to have a huge year.” – Woodlan coach Gary Cobb
No. 27 Kyndra Sheets, Columbia City
Sheets very quickly established herself as arguably the best freshman not in the SAC last season. She makes high level decisions for such a young player and helped established the Eagles as a title contender in the NE8, a role that they will continue to have going in to the 2021-22 season. She can admirably play all three perimeter positions but likely will be an almost exclusively deployed point guard. That is because Sheets is a quite effective passer with bettering vision coming in waves. She played well as the season went on in 2020-21 as she saw growing pressure from opposing defenses.
Sheets averaged 10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists during her freshman year, showcasing how varsity ready she was immediately. That is not something that is easy to come by. She displayed this summer that she is getting better as a scoring threat too, being able to find multiple ways to score and moving successfully without the ball in her hands as well. Added size and strength will benefit her already strong IQ.
COACH’S QUOTE ON KYNDRA SHEETS
“Savvy point guard with good handles. She sees the floor exceptionally well and can deliver great passes on time; very unselfish. Finishes well at the rim and can hit the three.” – Columbia City coach Amy Shearer
No. 26 Alison Stephens, Homestead
Stephens’ skillset has been ever growing and she has become both advanced and versatile in that regard. From early in her Homestead career, there were strong parallels to Spartan alum Sydney Graber and for good reason. Stephens is tough, doesn’t back down and can be a real cornerstone for Homestead’s aggression. She will need to continue to improve on the interior because of that size and aggression, but she is solid there and really has become much more adept at hitting big shots with comfort and relative ease.
In the win over Noblesville in the Regional semi finals last season, Stephens had a stellar performances, hitting 6-of-9 three pointers on her way to 20 points. It was an eye opener on how much she can open up the game for herself and others as a deep threat. Last year, Stephens averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Spartans. Her high motor, that range and the skillset to handle intangible tasks make Stephens one of the area’s most intriguing prospects in the 2021-22 season as a junior.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ALISON STEPHENS
“Great shooter who has worked hard this off season to improve her ability to score from all three levels. Her defense has improved and she will continue to get better rebounding the basketball. Ali will be one of the top offensive performers in the area playing alongside Ayanna.” – Homestead coach Rod Parker
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