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 2022-23 season.
Today, we unveil five of the best in the area at positions No. 35-31.
No. 35: Makenzie Fuess, Norwell
Something that has always been discussed about Makenzie is how much she engulfs herself in the game. Her coach, Eric Thornton, points out how much she loves being in the gym even long after a regular practice has ended. When someone like Thornton raves about a player, you know her work ethic is special. But Fuess isn’t just a hard work/character player. She averaged 10.5 points per game coming off the bench and was a valuable asset for the depth of a pretty young Norwell team. Fuess also hit 40 three pointers and averaged 1.5 steals per game.
COACH’S QUOTE ON MAKENZIE FUESS
“She moves into a bigger role this season and has never shied away from working to accomplish some pretty lofty goals. As her coach, you love being in the trenches with Makenzie because of how she’s intentionally embraced the “work” and, more importantly, has the character piece that your team needs from a great player like her. Makenzie plays with an energy that affects our team and creates advantages for us because she is an interested defender. Our team can continue to build off success when one of your best players has that chip on their shoulder like Makenzie does.” – Norwell coach Eric Thornton
No. 34: Peyton Pries, South Adams
Scrappy is the best word to describe Pries, who has been a consistent presence for the Starfires after breaking out as a freshman. Now headed into her senior season, the expectation for Pries is that she will be a big leader for a South Adams team full of potential coming off her own All-ACAC First Team season. The 5-foot-6 senior is known for being a more than competent scorer at 11.8 points per game (15 double digit scoring games), but she is also a bit of the muscle of the team, even though her rebound average did go down a year ago. She also uses her strength across the defensive end, averaging 2.2 steals per game last season; South Adams was 6-0 when she had four or more steals in a game.
COACH’S QUOTE ON PEYTON PRIES
“‘Peyton is a duel threat offensively. She can knock down the outside shot or beat you off the dribble.” – South Adams coach Wayne Kreiger
No. 33: Annaka Nelson, Concordia Lutheran
Nelson is coming back strong and anyone who saw her this summer knows it. The Cadets expected to lean on her last season but couldn’t all of the time for a variety of reasons. That said, she still earned All-SAC Second Team honors because she plays all out and has become one of the area’s more underrated rebounders during what has been a bit of an underrated career. Nelson averaged 10.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last season. She does a really great job of reading interiors and positioning herself to rebound the ball. She doesn’t have to be the biggest or toughest – though sometimes she is – because often she is smarter rebounding the ball than most opponents.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ANNAKA NELSON
“Annaka creates such a strong presence on the court and an interesting matchup for other teams. She’s long and likes to work the inside but also has good range from the outside. Last season, she battled some physical ailments, so we look forward to having her healthy after coming off strong summer work.” – Concordia Lutheran coach Nicole Bolinger
No. 32: Aniah Hill, Wayne
When you look at key multi year pieces that have facilitated Wayne’s renewed contention, Hill is near the top of that list. She has been a player that has bought into the program and has the skills to speed up the process of “rebuilding” for the Generals. Hill averaged a second best 10.7 points for the Generals last season, leading the team at 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Wayne was 5-2 when she pulled down double digit rebounds and six of those games were double doubles including 21/10 against Marion and 19/12 opposite Blackhawk Christian, a game where she also had five assists and four steals.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ANIAH HILL
“She is our energizer bunny, she is the one we will go to when we need to get out of a scoring drought.” – Wayne coach Lacia Gorman
No. 31: Hailey Cole, Bellmont
Cole became a consistent threat throughout last season and was a big presence in the post. She is a true stretch forward in the way she handles herself, throwing around her strength near the basket but has the uncanny ability to step out and pick her spots. It made her match up nightmare often in the NE8 and beyond. Cole averaged 10.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, adding a block a game for the Braves. On top of that, she was a 35 percent shooter from three point range along the way, forcing teams to really pick their poison when dealing with her multi-faceted offensive ability.
COACH’S QUOTE ON HAILEY COLE
“Two years ago, as a freshman on JV, we saw the potential that Hailey could have on our program. It is rare to find a post player that can handle the ball and pass the way she does, and over the summer, that ability caught the eye of a handful of college coaches. Last year she got thrown into the varsity starting lineup and didn’t miss a beat. She was a huge reason for our success last year and has been working on her game in the off season. Her strength in the post is unmatched in the area, but her ability to step out and hit 3’s on a consistent basis is something that makes her difficult, if not impossible, to guard. On top of all that, her ability to alter shots at the rim on defense is key to allowing our guards and wings to pressure or trap out of our zone.” – Bellmont coach Andy Heim
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