Home » IHSAA girls basketball: What we learned during last week of November

IHSAA girls basketball: What we learned during last week of November

play

And just like that, the first month of the girls high school basketball season is in the books. 

Here’s what we learned from the final week of November (and the first couple days of December).

More: Avon’s Aniah Smith ‘makes the hard things look so easy.’ And she’s just getting started.

Insider: Five takeaways from Hamilton Southeastern vs. Noblesville

Pendleton Heights’ defense steps up vs. Mt. Vernon

The Arabians’ 44-39 victory at Mt. Vernon was a grind, as it usually is. Neither side shot the ball particularly well with the point total hovering around 50 points into the third quarter. 

But even as it sought consistency offensively, Pendleton Heights made sure its defense didn’t sag, forcing turnovers amidst a back-and-forth first half, then clamping down late as the visitors rallied from a 32-29 deficit in the fourth quarter. Mt. Vernon had 34 turnovers, per IndyStar correspondent Rich Torres. 

“There were times last year we struggled to defend,” PH coach Nick Rogers said. “We made a choice that defense was going to be a big key for us (this year). We have to find a way to stop teams. If you want to win in February, you have to get stops. … We work on it daily and they’ve adopted that mentality.” 

Kaycie Warfel accounted for nine steals unofficially. She was a noticeable presence on both ends, as was senior guard Skylar Baldwin (three steals), who pestered the Marauders whenever they crossed midcourt, converting a couple steals into fast-break buckets the other way. 

Sophomore Olivia Jones added four steals.

“She’s fast,” Warfel said of Baldwin. “She’s so fast and she got those steals, got those deflections — Skylar is just a great player.” 

Jones started the season with a quad injury suffered during softball season and the Powder Puff football game, according to Rogers, then suffered an overuse injury in her other quad shortly after her return. The Arabians had to “dial her back” a little bit, but she’s been pain-free for a few days now and is nearly back to 100%.

“If she needed to put her shoulder through the scorer’s table to save a ball, she would,” Rogers said. “She’s one of the most selfless kids I know. … She embodies what we’re trying to do.”

Less good: Pendleton Heights’ free-throw shooting. They missed a lot of freebies, finishing 12-for-23 at the line, unofficially.

Warfel said they hit them during practice, but it hasn’t translated during games. 

“It’s not form. It’s just between the ears for us,” Rogers added. “Luckily, we were able to make enough to find a way (today), but we know we have to be better.”

Kaycie Warfel in the paint

The 5-10 junior wasn’t sure how she’d like logging minutes in the post for the Arabians this season, but she’s enjoyed it, embracing the physicality of playing inside — an aspect of the game she’s never really one to shy away from. 

Warfel, who finished with 22 points, six rebounds and nine steals, made her living inside against Mt. Vernon, posting up on a few occasions and regularly fighting through traffic in the lane. She converted six of 11 free throws.

Mt. Vernon quick hits

∎ It’s probably weird to read with a record of 3-6, but the three-time defending sectional champion Marauders should be in the regional hunt come February. Their defense played a role in Pendleton’s offensive woes, forcing 20 turnovers and maintaining leads after the second and third quarters. On the other end, they slipped through for a few wide-open looks around the basket late in the third quarter to pull ahead. 

∎ DePaul commit Ellery Minch scored a double-double with 24 points (five 3s) and 11 rebounds. 

Balanced contributions, switch to zone keys Avon’s win over Plainfield

Though the Orioles’ one-win record was probably a bit misleading (schedule included Lawrence North, Noblesville and Zionsville), that was still a sizable upset they pulled on the road Tuesday night, handing Plainfield its first loss of the season behind a massive third-quarter rally and a well-balanced performance headlined by Aniah Smith’s school-record 39 points.

I wrote about Smith a few days ago, but the performance of Mya Thompson shouldn’t be overlooked. The 5-4 guard logged 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting, plus six rebounds and an assist. All five of her field goals came from behind the arc, including one late in the third quarter that finished off a 22-4 Avon run (she drilled another from near the volleyball line with 10 seconds left in the third that sent the entire Avon side into a frenzy).

“The energy in the gym really helped,” Thompson said. “(And) I draw confidence from my teammates, especially when they get hyped.”

Nevaeh Wren tallied seven points and Soryah Hart added six for Avon, which shot 42% as a team. 

Another key factor: Avon’s defense. The Orioles switched to zone in the second half — Plainfield hadn’t seen much (if any) zone through its first seven games — and it proved effective with the Quakers limited to just 10 points in the third quarter. 

The defensive effort was headlined by Wren, who Staal described as a “walking five-second violation” — and was at Notre Dame on Friday for a track recruiting visit — Smith (eight steals), Makaylee Buttts (three steals) and Joyce Smiley (two steals). 

“We were strong, fast, quick and together out there,” Staal said. “That doesn’t happen without our strength coach, Craig Ray, and our speed coach Chris Stevenson. … They’re helping cultivate a culture at Avon that’ll be fun to watch grow.” 

Plainfield underclassmen shine

Berkeley Williams and Hannah Menser took turns in the spotlight Tuesday night. 

Williams ensured a strong start, netting 13 of her 17 points through the first two quarters, including a layup late in the half that gave them a nine-point lead. Her freshman counterpart, Menser, took over in the fourth quarter, pouring in 15 of her team-high 19 points over the final eight minutes. She initiated her charge with a four-point play in the opening minute, and ultimately accounted for 15 of the Quakers’ 22 fourth-quarter points. 

“She’s a very good shooter, very heady, very good basketball IQ,” Plainfield coach Curt Benge said of Menser. “She does a lot of good things for us and is going to be a really good player.”

Its seven-game win streak now behind it, Plainfield — which beat Whiteland by 11 over the weekend — gears up for back-to-back measuring stick games: vs. Center Grove on Tuesday followed by a trip to Noblesville on Saturday. 

“We’re hard to guard. We have Payton (Benge) inside, then Hannah and Berkeley (at guard),” Curt Benge said of his team. “Berkeley is able to drive it, Ellie Stewart is a great defender, so we’re a very balanced team. We just didn’t do what we needed to do this evening.” 

Shots, blocks & boards: Vote for IHSAA girls basketball players of the week (Nov. 27-Dec. 2)

Franklin avenges loss to Center Grove

About a week after losing to Center Grove in the Johnson County tournament final, No. 16 Franklin exacted its revenge, taking down the No. 3 Trojans, 62-53, Tuesday night at home. 

Lauren Klem finished with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting (6-for-8 from 3), while fellow senior Erica Buening dominated the paint, logging 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. The Grizzly Cubs shot 55% from the field and finished 10-for-22 from 3. 

Ava Grant led Center Grove with 22 points (6-for-9 from 3); Lilly Bischoff logged 13. Center Grove was 10-for-20 from behind the arc.

Odds-and-ends

∎ Check out this shot by Bethesda Christian senior Kenzie Fulks to beat Lafayette Central Catholic at the buzzer.

Fulks finished with 20 points in the 46-45 victory. Sydney Goodin logged 19 points; Jayla Ferguson added nine. The Patriots (5-1), lost to Danville over the weekend, and are off until Friday when they host Ritter and Shortridge on back-to-back nights.

∎ Speaking of buzzer beaters: Kya Hurt delivered in the clutch for Lawrence North, nailing this buzzer-beater to lift the Wildcats to a 66-63 win over Gibson Southern at the Evansville North Basketball Showcase. 

Hurt finished with 21 points. She had a team-high 16 points in a 74-61 win over Castle earlier in the day.

∎ Shoutout to Herron, which rolled by Riverside last week to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2012-13. Trinity Foerester is averaging 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Acaeans, Jaycianna Clark has been good for a double-double per game (14.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg) and Jada Wright is contributing 8.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 5.2 steals. 

∎ Intriguing matchup Friday night between sectional rivals Bishop Chatard (3-3) and Heritage Christian (4-4). Both teams will be around the .500 mark (HC hosts Covenant Christian on Tuesday), against similarly difficult schedules. 

Heritage Christian went 2-1 vs. Chatard last season, but the loss came in the sectional championship game.

∎ Avery Gordon (foot) returned to the lineup Friday night for Brownsburg, but Franklin Central prevailed with a 57-51 win over the Bulldogs. It’s the Flashes’ first win over their conference foe since the 2006-07 season opener. 

∎ North Knox, the top-ranked team in Class 2A, pushed defending 4A champion Bedford North Lawrence to the brink Monday, with the Stars needing a pair of last-second free throws by freshman Miley Sherrill to escape with a 51-50 win. Sherrill finished with 11 points. 

Lexi Primus led the visiting Warriors with 14 points, Alex McKinley added 11 and Brooklyn Sturgeon tallied 10. 

∎ Westfield picked up a nice win Saturday night, besting Warsaw, 60-51. The Shamrocks are 6-1 with wins over Pendleton Heights and Fishers entering this December gauntlet: at Carmel, at Zionsville, at Avon, vs. Noblesville, and at Franklin Central. 

∎ A couple games to watch from this week’s Marion County tournament…

Tuesday features a rivalry clash between Ben Davis and Roncalli, plus a sectional finals rematch between Warren Central and Lawrence North. 

Should both teams advance, we’ll get the first of at least two, maybe three, meetings between Lawrence North and Lawrence Central on Thursday at LC. 

Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen.