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. 25-21.
No. 25 Madi Vice, Central Noble
A seasoned vet as a junior, Vice returns as Central Noble’s leading scorer from a season ago where she was tied for second on the team at 10.7 points per game. It didn’t take much for Vice to break out last year as she came in clearly confident and that will takeover the game for the Cougars this season as she becomes their clean cut top option. She averaged 12 points per game when Central Noble started 3-0 last season including 23 points including 10 of 15 shooting against Whitko. Vice hit 20-plus points four more times, most impressively against Lakeland; the team was 5-0 when she scored 20 or more points and were 9-2 when she hit double digit scoring.
That showcases how much energy that Vice and her success bring to the area. She is a score first point guard, but still has great court vision. As teams key on her much more this year, that vision becomes more critical. She shot 56 percent from the field last season while averaging 3.3 steals and 2.5 assists per game. She had a season high eight assists versus Bethany Christian in 44 minutes of play.
COACH’S QUOTE ON MADI VICE
“She is capable of being one of the all around best point guards in the area. Her ability to go coast to coast and her ability to get to the basket and finish, as well as knock down the three point shot, makes it difficult to defend her.” – Central Noble coach Josh Treesh
No. 24 Faith Owen, Garrett
One of the best pure shooters in the area, Garrett improved a lot when Owen rejoined the lineup last season because of how she changed defensive matchups and stretched out the floor. Owen averaged 8.1 points per game by just taking over on occasion. Her game against West Noble in January was masterful, as was her 22 point outing in a Sectional win over Woodlan where she shot 64 percent from the field and hit 6 of 9 three pointers. Overall on the season, Owen hit 42 percent of her triples and leaving a defender too far off her can be a huge mistake.
Owen has a ton of experience from this group loaded with seniors; she was the one who contributed the most when they were freshmen and she hasn’t let up as the team has morphed around her over the past few seasons. She plays poised and competes at a tenacious level that goes a long way in making Garrett one of the area’s biggest threats.
COACH’S QUOTE ON FAITH OWEN
“Everyone knows Faith as an elite three point shooter, but she may be an even better ball handler. You will see her with the ball more this year and she will have a much bigger role in our offense. She has a great understanding of the game and for her size, she is a big time rebounder and defender.” – Garrett coach Bob Lapadot
No. 23 J’Asia Scott, Northrop
Scott is not alone in this, but she has really made Northrop go through a lot of personnel, coaching and effort changes. There are not many players ever in the SAC that can claim the same longevity that Scott has while also never wavering on how hard she can play. The identity of Northrop can easily be built by following Scott, who has a relentless pace on both ends of the floor but really shines defensively, often as the first line of defense on a press or by contending with an opposing team’s top player. She had back-to-back five steal games in January and the Bruins were 5-1 last season when Scott had four or more steals in a game.
Offensively, she isn’t a high volume scorer but far more than just capable. Scott averaged 9.7 points per game so her offensive fluidity will be great for another change in the Bruin program. Scott also averaged 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in 2020-21 while flirting with a triple double against North Side with eight points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
COACH’S QUOTE ON J’ASIA SCOTT
“The engine of this team. She is the fastest player baseline to baseline in the area; a true mosquito on defense. She will be the safety in our full court press and the heartbeat of our defense. She now has taken her game to another level by transitioning steals into points for herself or teammates, which benefits our team on all levels.” – Northrop coach Katie Jackson
No. 22 Annaka Nelson, Concordia Lutheran
It is safe to say that Nelson is among the area’s most underrated players. She has been a critical cog in Concordia’s rebuilding and will continue to be a glue player as the Cadets shift to a new coach. As Concordia wasn’t in the thick of things as much last season as they have been, it feels like Nelson may have been overlooked as the team’s third leading scorer. That isn’t something that will happen this season. She has built two varsity seasons on aggressive play that has pushed a critical tempo. Nelson can get out and run, finish at the rim but also knows how to handle a game changing pace if it isn’t up and down.
The 6-footer is a stealthy post with 11.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last season. She is stealthy because of how well she can play on the wing too. She slides in well on the backside for rebounds, where she had 50 on the offensive end last season. She was able to knock down 25 three pointers while shooting 48 percent from inside the arc. She went 5-of-5 from deep against Leo and 3-of-3 from long range against Wayne. As important as Nelson will be inside this season with the graduation of the Craig sisters, the Cadets were 6-2 last season when she hit multiple three pointers in a game.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ANNAKA NELSON
“Annaka is such a versatile player on the court and we will really need to use that. She has typically demonstrated her ability to hit the three and drive to the bucket, but she is also great at moving inside. I know she’s been working hard in the offseason and I look forward to seeing what she can do this season not only from a player standpoint, but also as a leader.” – Concordia Lutheran coach Nicole Bolinger
No. 21 Nevaeh Jackson, Northrop
What will the future look like for one of the Jackson sisters in new colors? Nevaeh was one of the area’s most improved players a season ago. She averaged 8.1 points per game for the SAC champions at Carroll before moving to Northrop as her mom has taken over the Bruins coaching reigns. You know that a player, or in this case, players are vital when they immediately turn a program into a contender in the eyes of many. That is what Nevaeh has helped do at Northrop and we saw that in their minimal time together in June. Usually, we don’t look at summer too much in these rankings but when it is a player with their own team, we have to.
Jackson was the versatile, intangible player for Carroll last season. She scored when needed, sure, but she also averaged 3.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game. You can’t just find players anywhere that can do a little bit of everything and defend a little bit of everybody whenever called upon. Jackson can be who she needs to be one quarter and then change it up on a dime five minutes later. Her ability to be a chameleon on the basketball court has made her one that we should expect to continue to grow and improve this season.
COACH’S QUOTE ON NEVAEH JACKSON
“She used AAU season to develop into our most complete player. She can score, defend, rebound and pass. She is naturally deceptive for her length and size. She can also guard any position 1-5. Her ability to drive has made her a true offensive weapon.” – Northrop coach Katie Jackson
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