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. 15-11
No. 15 Destini Craig, Snider
It is time to get into this monumental now-sophomore class for Snider, starting with Craig who established herself as a big X-factor for the Panthers as a freshman. Craig has the size that make her an ideal stretch player for this group, being able to attack at the rim, off the dribble and in the mid range very well. Craig never disappears from games, even when she isn’t handling a big scoring load. She chips in here and there and then makes herself known at very pertinent moments. That was perhaps most on display in a win over Homestead last season.
Craig scored 20 points in her first ever SAC game early last season and if that didn’t put the area on notice, the rest of her 9th grade season should have. People may consider her option three among Snider’s talented Class of 2024 but she really has the chance to take over games offensively as well as anyone in that class on her team or not. Every single game last season where Craig scored 15 or more points (seven of them), she shot 50 percent or higher from the field and only two of those times did she shoot less than 64 percent from the field. You don’t come across seniors who are as reliable shooting the ball as Craig was as a freshman.
COACH’S QUOTE ON DESTINI CRAIG
“Destini is a powerhouse and has a nose for the ball when it comes to scoring and anticipation. She is a transition specialist and knows how to use her body to create different angles of scoring for the team and has also increased her passing ability!” – Snider coach Akilah Sims
No. 14 Taylor Gerke, Garrett
Gerke’s presence certainly changed the game for Garrett as they added a high end slasher who can get down hill as well as anyone in the area. It really balanced out this squad and Gerke helps keep defenses off balance all of the time. Gerke is just tough and she puts that on display the whole time she on the court with her physicality and desire to go all out for her team. Gerke averaged 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.6 steals and a block a game last season. She had five steals in a single game on five different occasions.
How important is her offense to the Railroaders? They were 11-1 when she scored over 10 points on her way to a season average of 11 points per game. In those 12 games scoring double figures, she shot less than 40 percent just twice and hit a monster 62 percent of her shots in a 22 point outing against Angola in the regular season. She shot 50 percent from two point range on the season but was still a threat to pop and and hit three pointers, including three against Eastside.
COACH’S QUOTE ON TAYLOR GERKE
“Tay is the X factor to our ultimate success. When she is healthy and playing at 100% she is a match up nightmare at both ends of the floor. She is best off the dribble, but has really developed her outside shot, and she can defend multiple positions.” – Garrett coach Bob Lapadot
No. 13 Nataley Armstrong
The spark that gets Garrett going, Armstrong was consistently ranked among the assist leaders in the entire country last season according to MaxPreps. She finished the season at 7.8 assists per game and has to be considered one of the best court generals with high vision in the area, let alone the NECC. Not many players can surpass double digit assists in a game any time and Armstrong did it six times during her junior season including three games in a row where she had 12, 11 and 10 assists against Norwell, Leo and Churubusco respectively. Along the way she also was out front in Garrett’s ever improving defense where she tallied two steals per game, including a season high six versus Fremont.
Armstrong is continuing a strong scoring presence even if that isn’t her primary weapon. She averaged 5.7 points per game in 2020-21 but was able to chip in on a variety of levels from 17 points against DeKalb to an impactful 3-of-3 night against Lakeland. That win against DeKalb saw her shoot 5-of-7 from three point range, showing that when she can bring consistency she is able to make a big splash as a scoring weapon. She is capable to create for herself and that will only help her down the line.
COACH’S QUOTE ON NATALEY ARMSTRONG
“Nat is as good of an all-around PG as you will find in this area. She might be the best passer in the state and she defends at a high level. You will see her scoring increase this year as we utilize her as more than just a passer in our offense.” – Garrett coach Bob Lapadot
No. 12 Taylor Double, Huntington North
It could be baffling if you are a Vikings fan when you see Double’s name left out of any list of the best players in the area. Don’t worry about that here, we see Taylor Double’s game loud and clear. From the time she took the court as a freshman, she has been a crisp and fundamental scorer. Double just does things the right way almost from the get go. You can tell as you watch Huntington North that her coach trusts her explicitly and she has almost always met the expectations and pressure of that well, some may even say flawlessly on occasion.
Last season, Double stepped up across the board for the Vikings, which shows the smoothness of her game as Huntington North relies on her scoring much more than they do any other player. She averaged a team high 13 points and four rebounds while also helping the Vikings with three assists and two steals per game. It is hard to rave about a single aspect of Double’s game because she does everything so well, you can’t focus on just one aspect if you are writing about her or trying to play against her.
COACH’S QUOTE ON TAYLOR DOUBLE
“Taylor has led us in most categories for the past two years. There are times we need her to look to score more because it’s in the best interest of the team. Some of that is us recognizing that and getting the ball in her hands. She almost always makes the right play. She can shoot it, drive it, and her passing / court vision is very good. We are looking to her to lead more vocally this year along with a couple of our seniors.” – Huntington North coach Matt Hinds
No. 11 Brea Garber, Fairfield
The expectations have been high on the coach’s daughter since her high school career began; that is kind of the burden to bare as the coach’s kid. Garber has never shy’d away from the expectations and has always been an aggressive threat no matter her age or who she was guarding. Her coach will tell you (see below) and it is hard to argue: Garber’s defense changes the flow of any game and that is very needed in the NECC. She leads her team into critical defensive stops and the way she is able to position her body in multiple defensive situations (presses, traps, etc.) indicates a really high IQ on that end of the floor.
She averaged 13 points a game for a team who doesn’t score much. That’s no knock, Fairfield plays a smart, methodical pace that extends possessions with their defense (see above). Garber still led the team offensively and took over in critical moments. She has been part of a rebuild from a state contender team that preceded her and never has she wavered on her role. Garber also averaged four rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as a sophomore.
COACH’S QUOTE ON BREA GARBER
“Brea has a multi-dimensional game that allows her to play inside and outside not only on offense but defense as well. Her offensive statistics speak for themself, but her defense is often a game changer for us as a team.” – Fairfield coach Brodie Garber
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