IHSAA girls basketball: Center Grove wins Johnson County tourney, defeats Franklin Community 54-47
Center Grove wins the Johnson County tourney by defeating Franklin Community 54-47 in overtime on Saturday, November 18, 2023.
FRANKLIN — The girls high school basketball season is in full swing. Here are a few takeaways from the Johnson County tournament, a special announcement, and some odds-and-ends from the past week.
Shots, blocks & boards: Vote for girls basketball players of the week (Nov. 13-18)
Introducing the ‘High School Her-steria’ podcast!
Long-time coaches Danny Riego and Josh Sabol, and I are starting a podcast that’s dedicated entirely to Indiana girls high school basketball! We’ll be covering all the biggest topics, highlighting standout performances and previewing major upcoming games.
We’ll be moving this to iTunes, Spotify and wherever else you listen to your podcasts, but in the meantime, here’s our debut episode with a deep-dive on the aforementioned Sneakers For Santa event at Brownsburg.
- 2:04 — Prep schools
- 10:57 — Decatur Central vs. Zionsville
- 15:18 — Indian Creek vs. Brownsburg (Wiseman vs. Gordon)
- 21:14 — South Bend Washington vs. Jennings County (and the emergence of Juliann Woodard; discrepancy between north and south basketball)
- 31:54 — Noblesville vs. Bollingbrook (Ill.)
- 43:28 — HSE vs. Columbia City (Addison Baxter, Maya Makalusky, Kennedy Holman, Kayla Stidham, etc.)
- 55:48 — Lawrence North vs. Bedford North Lawrence
Indian Creek opens difficult, critical stretch with loss to Center Grove
We’re less than a month in, but with the Johnson County tournament so early in the season and Sneakers For Santa right after Thanksgiving, this sets up as a rather important stretch for Indian Creek, which lost to Center Grove in the county semifinals last Thursday and has trips to Franklin (Tuesday) and Brownsburg (Saturday) this week.
That’s three quality Class 4A opponents — would’ve been four if they bested the eventual county champion Trojans (beat Franklin, 54-47 in OT) — lined up over a nine-day stretch. By contrast, the Braves begin December with four teams that have a combined record of 6-17, and probably won’t be tested again until the Hall of Fame Classic on Dec. 29 (Columbia City, winner plays either Lake Central or Jennings County).
“That’s what’s nice about how we set up the schedule,” said coach Brian Ferris, whose team has not lost a Western Indiana Conference game since 2020-21. “It gets us going and lets us see where we’re at early in the season before we get into our conference schedule. And then there’s the Hall of Fame Classic — boom, we get to see mid-season where we’re at. … Hopefully all these are what we need to prepare us for that tournament run.”
Not that there was any doubt, but Indian Creek looked like it belonged with Center Grove, its first “hardcore” opponent of the season. IU commit Faith Wiseman staked the Braves to a halftime lead, then they weathered a 13-0 run before battling back from the brink to force overtime with a pair of Lauren Foster free throws in the final seconds.
The county semifinals showcased the talents of Wiseman and Foster — both of whom logged 20 points (16 rebounds for Wiseman) — and Ayla Lollar, who tallied 10 points and is certainly a name to keep an eye on moving forward. But there were also moments where the youth elsewhere in the lineup was on display, and when the early-season turnover woes proved problematic (IC had 55 through its first three games).
“The younger ones have the talent, they just have to get the experience and being able to give them that experience this early should reap benefits,” Ferris said. “That’s the goal anyways, so they’re not first-year starters. They’re seasoned by the end like they’ve been starting for two years.”
Whiteland happy with its fight, but has to ‘be able to fight longer’
There’s no putting a positive spin on a 38-point loss wherein you trailed 18-0 in the first quarter and didn’t register a field goal until 90 seconds into the second quarter. But there were some threads worth tugging from Whiteland’s 68-30 loss to Franklin on Thursday.
They competed in spurts, coach Kellie Burgeson said, observing the 27-25 scoring differential between the second and third quarters. That stretch saw the Grizzly Cubs settling for 3-pointers on one end, and the Warriors attacking the basket and finding open looks on the other (they just weren’t able to convert enough of those opportunities to take a serious run at their opponent).
“We had a few solid defensive possessions, solid rotations, we just have to take that next step to then boxing out and rebounding or a solid offensive possession, then making that one more pass,” Burgeson said. “There were positives, we just have to take the next step. … I’m happy with our fight, but we have to be able to fight longer.”
∎ Credit to Franklin for neutralizing Whiteland senior Gwen Higdon, who was held to two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
“We have to find a way to move the ball better offensively no matter how the defense is playing us,” Burgeson said. “We’re improving, but we’re still trying to improve our offensive rotations.”
∎ The Warriors have been dealing with injuries: 5-10 sophomore forward Carly Vondielingen (ankle) has been out since the opener vs. Mt. Vernon; junior guard Sam Roadruck, the team’s leading scorer, did not start vs. Franklin as she recovered from a rolled ankle; 5-7 junior Lana Johnson has also been out.
Burgeson hopes to have Vondielingen and Roadruck back to full strength in the next couple weeks.
IHSAA girls basketball: Center Grove defeats Indian Creek 61-52
Center Grove defeats Indian Creek 61-52 on Thursday, November 16, 2023.
Odds-and-ends (or Sneakers-and-Santa)
Again, check out the podcast for a Sneakers For Santa deep-dive, but a few things I’m really looking forward to…
∎ Noblesville responded to its first loss of the season — 56-53 vs. Lawrence North — with weekend wins over Brownsburg and at Homestead. Two really impressive wins led by an as-good-as-advertised top-4 (Reagan Wilson, Ava Shoemaker, Meredith Tippner and CC Quigley). The Millers play Bollingbrook (Ill.) on Saturday, then assuming they handle business vs. Carmel, should be in fine shape entering this 10-day stretch: at Hamilton Southeastern, FW Northrop, Fishers and Plainfield.
∎ Lawrence North vs. Bedford North Lawrence have looked like two of the state’s best so far, and they’ll go head-to-head in Saturday’s finale in a rematch of last year’s south semistate championship game.
∎ Columbia City should be undefeated entering its game vs. Hamilton Southeastern. The Eagles, led by Butler commit Addison Baxter, knocked off FW Snider and Valparaiso last week.
Two non-holiday invite themed notes…
∎ Plainfield is 5-0, matching its best start since 2020-21 and best overall since it started 18-0 in 2015-16. The Quakers host Greenfield and travel to Tri-West this week.
∎ Westfield ran its record to 4-1 with a 52-51 win over Fishers on Friday (Ellie Kelleher hit the game-winner with eight seconds remaining). The Shamrocks had lost four straight and eight of their last nine vs. the Tigers. They wrap up the opening month vs. Pike on Tuesday.
Records and milestones
∎ New Palestine’s Allie Blum put up 36 points vs. Warren Central, matching the school-record for points in regulation (second-highest overall).
∎ Addison Bowsman (Twin Lakes), Jacklynn Hosier (Alexandria), Kaycie Warfel (Pendleton Heights) and Reagan Wilson (Noblesville) all joined the 1,000-point club last week.
∎ Jaylah Lampley of Lawrence Central reset the school record with 39 points in a win over La Lumiere on Saturday. Her final line: 39 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and two steals.
∎ Ten days after setting the single-game 3-point record, Twin Lakes’ Olivia Nickerson tied her own record by converting 10-of-15 triples in a 52-49 win over McCutcheon.
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen.