Season Preview: Class 3A, Sectionals 17-20
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The featured image is of Jayden Flagg Jayden Flagg 5'6" | PG New Prairie | 2024 State IN (2024) of New Prairie High School. As we begin week-3 of the 2023-2024 season, there have already been some noticeable performances by…
The featured image is of(2024) of New Prairie High School.
As we begin week-3 of the 2023-2024 season, there have already been some noticeable performances by teams and players. This article serves as the ninth of 16 in total, previewing each Sectional in the state. I will continue by taking a look at the first Class 3A North Regional, which incorporates the winners of Sectional #17 through Sectional #20. Below is a look at the teams in each of those Sectionals, along with some general comments and analysis.
(SAG = Final 2022-2023 Multiclass Sagarin Rating (395 teams); SOS = Final 2022-2023 Strength of Schedule)
Highland (17-7), SAG 101, SOS 215
Hanover Central (14-10), SAG 187, SOS 259
Bishop Noll (10-14), SAG 210, SOS 331
Boone Grove (7-15), SAG 309, SOS 311
River Forest (10-13), SAG 344, SOS 364
Griffith (4-19), SAG 369, SOS 368
Calumet (3-16), SAG 382, SOS 374
Highland was a veteran team in 2022-2023, but graduation took seven players away from the Trojans for this season. Still, though, they return their top two scorers in 5-7 Senior wing(10.9p, 4.3r, 2.6s) and 5-7 Sophomore guard (11.0p, 3.8r). Keil is a dynamite defender, in addition to being a nice athlete, while Steele is a knockdown shooter outside. At the same time, key players gone via the diploma include Payton Reid (10.5p, 4.8r, 2.0s), Briana Flores (5.6p), Cailey Belloso (4.5p, 5.0r), and Aneisah Gail (4.2p). I would expect the Trojans to stay competitive with Keil and Steele in the mix, and they’ll still compete for the Sectional #17 crown, but 17 wins could be tough considering their schedule and conference. Hanover Central is the other team I would target as potentially being a Sectional #17 title contender. They lost three graduates, but they’ll feel the most impact from the loss of 6-0 forward Hailey Vanderhye (11.9p, 7.7r, 2.9b). She was a versatile multilevel athlete for them, and she defended the paint well. The Wildcats turn to a strong 2024 class to lead the way once again. 5-8 guard (6.2p, 2.4a, 2.2s) stepped into a ball-handling role last season and did well. 5-7 wing Gabi Comia (6.3p, 3.5r, 2.6a, 2.8s) is a strong multisport athlete who brings energy. 5-4 guard Emmi Doty (5.5p, 2.7r, 2.0a) and 5-6 guard Kaitlin Duffy (4.6p) have also played big minutes in the past. Juniors Bridget Noel (4.3p, 5.1r), a 5-8 forward, and Sienna Antkiewicz (2.7p), a 5-4 wing, add to the Wildcats’ experienced depth. 6-0 Sophomore post Sienna Stilley could also step into a bigger role this time around because of her size. Normally, I would throw Bishop Noll into the mix, but they will likely need a lot of time to figure out who they are this year, as graduation and transfers hit them hard. Four graduates are now gone, most notably Mariah Robinson (10.1p, 2.4r, 2.1s) and Brianna Gonzalez (4.6p, 2.4a). Additionally, Senior wing (13.5p, 6.7r, 2.9a, 3.5s) is now at Hammond Central, Junior wing (13.0p, 6.3r, 2.9s) is now at Kenwood Academy (IL), and Junior guard (3.7p, 2.3r) is now at Whiting. Sophomore guard Jaiden Hall (4.3p, 5.3r) and 5-10 Junior forward Quinn Fehr (1.6p, 3.4r) return with the most experience. 5-7 Freshman wing is also a nice prospect who should step into immediately playing time. 5-11 post Jalyssia Crawford (1.8p, 3.5r in 2021-2022) also returns after not playing last season.
The Wolves of Boone Grove had a few more “downs” than “ups” last year, and to add to it, four graduates are now gone, three who were in their main rotation. Unfortunately, 6-0 forward Jaci Menard (12.7p, 5.8r, 2.3s) was a part of that group. This leaves the Wolves with only a couple of girls who have key game experience. 5-9 Senior wing Drew Jeffries (7.0p, 7.4r, 2.9s), 5-8 Senior forward Elaina Schreiner (6.4p, 4.3r), 5-5 Sophomore guard Chayse Duerr (4.1p, 2.0s), and 5-8 Junior forward Mercedes Szakacs (2.5p, 5.1r) look to be the top returnees for Boone Grove in 2023-2024. River Forest reached 10 wins last season for the first time since 2016-2017. Creating a repeat performance could be a struggle minus the graduation losses of Madison Whitmore, Abigail Witt, and Ayana Watts. Hope now lies on the shoulders of 5-9 Junior forward D’Yanna Hurn and 5-5 Junior guard Ashley Gonzalez. Griffith will need to score a lot more points in order to increase their win total, and with four of their top five players graduating, it will be extremely difficult. Gone this time are Nina Zielke (5.5p, 4.4r), Chloe Smith (5.3p, 3.5r, 2.4s), Jewelia Rivera (3.6p, 2.7r, 2.0s), and Alex Strauch (2.7p, 3.5r). The top returnees for the Panthers should be 5-8 Junior guard Briana Esquivel (6.8p, 5.4r, 2.1s) and 5-7 Sophomore wing Morgan Von Odgen (2.5p, 2.8r). That just leaves Calumet in Sectional #17, and they are in a similar position to Griffith, in that they will need to continue finding offense somewhere if they are to improve their overall record. The best chance for the Warriors lies in the hands of 5-5 Senior guard Alexis Flores. 5-4 Senior guard Kayla Congress and 5-8 Senior post Skia Shufford also return to the lineup with experience.
Tippecanoe Valley (22-4), SAG 72, SOS 184
Bremen (8-15), SAG 188, SOS 112
Rochester (11-13), SAG 197, SOS 149
John Glenn (10-15), SAG 212, SOS 157
Culver Academy (13-11), SAG 222, SOS 231
Knox (5-20), SAG 241, SOS 121
Tippecanoe Valley made another Semi-State run in 2022-2023, but they then ran into the buzzsaw that was Fairfield. The Vikings suffered significant losses in graduates Kaydence Mellott (19.3p, 5.3r, 2.3s, 71 made 3s at 50%), Lily Ault (7.4p), Molly Moriarty (5.7p, 2.5r, 3.6a, 2.6s), Millie Scorsone (5.6p, 3.2r), and Corinna Stiles (4.7p, 5.4r, 2.4a, 2.1s)…five of their top six scorers. Still, though, this Viking program is incredibly deep, so I would expect them to remain competitive. 5-9 Senior forward Macy Peterson (5.1p, 4.8r) has surprisingly already returned from a Spring knee injury, and she brings energy and athleticism. 6-0 Senior front-liner(4.0p, 5.0r) is skilled and versatile. She could see a much bigger role as a starter. Look for Sophomore guards Dalynne Bussard, 5-10, and Gaby Gonzalez (2.8p), 5-4, to get the first shot at filling the backcourt spots out of the gate. Also keep an eye out for 5-10 Senior forward Ava Egolf (3.6p, 3.3r) who transferred in from Warsaw this season. She should make an immediate impact around the paint. Bremen looks to get above .500 and compete for the Sectional #18 title in 2023-2024. While energetic athlete Katie Moyer (9.2p, 9.1r, 2.9a) graduated, nearly everyone else returns to the fold. 5-6 Junior guard (13.4p, 2.5r, 2.1s) was the leading scorer a year ago and looks for a repeat performance this season. 5-7 Sophomore guard (6.8p, 4.1r) got her feet wet as a rookie, and she could be a double-figure scorer this time around. 5-8 Senior wing Mikayla Shively (5.3p, 3.3r, 2.4s) and 5-5 Sophomore guard Emma Kincaid (3.2p, 2.9r) should be mainstays in the starting lineup for the Lions this year. 6-0 post Teagan Feathers is a Freshman who should make an immediate impact for Bremen as well. When Rochester hasn’t had a winning record, they have at least been the “fly in the ointment” for most opponents. This year could honestly go either way. The Zebras were all Seniors and Sophomores a year ago, so they must say “goodbye” to six graduates, most notably Rily Holloway (8.5p) and Emma Howdeshell (8.1p, 3.8r, 2.5a, 2.0s). This season, the Zebras are going to be predominantly all Juniors and Freshmen. The top returnees include 5-3 Junior Guard Rylee Clevenger (5.8p) and 5-10 Junior forward Ella McCarter (3.6p, 4.1r). A strong 2027 group potentially brings 5-6 guard Aubrey Wilson, 5-11 post Jadyn Field, and 5-6 wing Brailyn Hunter to the lineup. How quickly those three can get caught up to the speed and size of a Varsity game will help determine when they are ready to see more wins than losses.
John Glenn won 10 games a year ago, and they are probably a team who could get to that mark again this season. However, they will need to increase their scoring, plus they will need to replace the production of Junior forward(5.9p, 3.7r), who is not back. 5-8 Senior Sophia Romer (5.4p, 4.2r, 2.0a, 2.2s), 5-5 Junior guard Addison Reese (3.3p, 2.0r), 5-7 Junior wing Alivia Turnage (2.8p, 2.6r), 5-5 Junior guard Dani Divine (2.8p), 5-8 Junior wing Daelynn Nance (2.2p, 3.0r), plus 5-10 Senior post Keelyn Bradley (2.0p, 2.6r) all could find themselves in the starting lineup in 2023-2024. If they can maintain a strong defensive effort, they can compete in Sectional #18. The Eagles of Culver Academy managed a winning record last season with mostly a young roster; however, they do say “goodbye” to four graduates, most importantly Dionna Craig (13.2p, 3.5r, 2.3s) and Lena Spiller (4.9p, 5.9r). Junior Reid Seddelmeyer (2.5p, 2.4a) is back for her third season on the point, but last year saw current Sophomores (8.5p, 3.2r), a 5-9 wing, and (6.4p, 5.2r), a 5-10 forward, play critical roles for the Eagles. Those three now form the core of the squad. Look for 5-7 Freshmen guards Kayla Herron and Jimara Combs to enter the mix, as both bring talent and skill to Culver Academy. Additionally, 6-2 Senior post Jenna Kerr (1.7p, 5.6r) is on hand if the Eagles need to play with some size on the floor. That just leaves Knox in Sectional #18, and it seems like they have graduated key players each of the last couple of years. This time around, missing are Riley Messer (9.5p, 6.8r, 3.9a, 2.1s) and Addison Eskridge (6.5p, 5.0r, 2.0s in 5 games due to injury). 5-7 wing (13.0p, 63 made 3s) is back for her fourth and final year of Varsity action. She is a dangerous 3-point shooter. Seniors Kadence Qualls (5.4p, 4.4r), a 5-2 guard, and Ellah Fairchild (4.0p, 2.2r), a 5-1 guard, along with 5-6 Junior guard Portland Minix (4.0p, 2.3r, 2.7a), 5-7 Sophomore guard (3.0p), and 5-8 Junior forward Rose Webb (2.6p, 3.2r), give Knox enough firepower to stay competitive. Also look for Freshman guard Riley Taylor and 5-10 Freshman post Nora Stone to potentially play right out of the gate.
Mishawaka Marian (22-6), SAG 60, SOS 92
New Prairie (13-9), SAG 150, SOS 192
Jimtown (9-14), SAG 215, SOS 138
South Bend St. Joseph (5-21), SAG 269, SOS 124
South Bend Clay (7-16), SAG 321, SOS 270
After never having won a Sectional title, Mishawaka Marian won four over the past six seasons, including in 2022-2023. Now, they could be on a bit of a downturn, as they graduated 2243-point scorer Nevaeh Foster (25.1p, 6.4r, 3.6a, 3.3s) and 1396-point scorer MaKaya Porter (12.0p, 7.0r, 2.7a in 3 games due to injury), not to mention Aliyah Hershberger (11.3p, 2.2r, 3.0a), Shayla Alexander (11.1p, 5.4r, 3.4a, 2.0s), Grace O’Hara (2.5p, 2.2a), and Nadalyn Gerwels. The Lady Knights have also changed coaches. As this new regime takes over, look for Junior Christa Porter (4.4p, 8.3r) and Senior Samantha Gruber (2.3p, 3.5r) to get first crack at key positions, as they are the only returnees with significant experience. New Prairie could be the top team in Sectional #19 this season, as they won seven of their final 10 games last year, following a 6-6 start to the season. They also return a great deal of production, plus they host the Sectional. Missing most will be graduate Eva Dodds (10.3p, 3.2r, 2.8a), however, their top three scorers do return. 5-7 Senior point guard(11.9p, 3.0r, 3.5a, 3.4s), 5-9 Senior wing (11.9p, 4.1r, 2.0a, 2.0s), and Senior forward Jolie Johns (10.5p, 6.5r, 2.2s) were all double-figure scorers a season ago. Additionally, Senior Kaylee Hoggard (3.5p) and Senior Maci Ernsperger (3.3p, 3.2r) bring good experience to the group and could round out the starting lineup. Look for the Cougars to be very dynamic this year, with so many Seniors playing key roles each night. In 2022-2023, Jimtown posted its most wins since the 2010-2011 season, and they look to get back to double-digit victories once again. Lucky for them, they return their primary rotation from a year ago. Back for her fourth season leading the Jimmies is 5-8 Senior guard (13.5p, 4.6r, 3.0a, 2.1s). She is a dynamic and strong athlete who does it all for Jimtown. 5-11 Junior forward Natalie Butler (7.6p, 4.7r) continues to improve, while 5-7 Senior wing Abbey Brown (7.2p, 4.8r) adds to the veteran leadership. 5-6 Sophomore guard Kylie Wiegand (6.8p, 3.2r) was able to log key minutes last year and should be even better this time around. And 5-8 Senior forward Alexis Garretson (3.9p, 4.5r) rounds out the rotation and solidifies the frontcourt.
Last year was a tough one for the Indians of South Bend St. Joe, and 2023-2024 can be a little better, but they must play without graduated leading scorer Peyton Hull (14.0p, 6.0r in 7 games), who was limited a season ago. Three other graduates, including Lauren Harrington (5.9p, 3.6r, 2.9a, 2.2s), are also missing from the lineup. Now, the Indians have no choice but to turn to some younger players. Fortunately for them, several logged big minutes a year ago. 5-6 Junior guard Kenadie Schrock (12.3p, 4.3r, 2.1a, 3.0s) was a double-digit scorer. 5-7 Sophomore forward Kayla Woods (7.9p, 5.1r) showed flashes as a rookie last year. 6-0 Sophomore post Nicki Byrne (3.1p, 5.0r) continues to grow and could really develop into a nice player. 5-5 Senior guard Eliana Lang (7.1p, 2.4r, 2.5a, 2.8s in 11 games) returns following a shortened season and offers Senior experience. 5-5 Junior guard Alexa Langager (4.6p, 2.7r) should return at some point as well. As you can see, there are some nice pieces to work with, but they’ll just have to continue to work together to potentially reach 10 wins once again. The Clay Colonials finished strong down the stretch last season, winning five of their final nine games, and they could have a repeat performance of that play in 2023-2024 with a number of key returnees. Back in the fold are 6-0 Junior post Maliya Freeman (11.4p, 9.1r, 1.8b), 5-11 Junior forward Tyrece Cunningham (8.3p, 9.0r, 3.0a, 2.4s), and 5-5 Senior guard Delilah Castaneda (6.5p, 2.4r). 5-6 Junior guard Rachel Hunt (3.4p, 4.2r, 2.1s) also returns and offers the potential to be a full-time starter this year. Additionally, 5-10 Senior wing Kira Miller comes over from Mishawaka High School and adds height and length to the lineup.
Fairfield (28-2), SAG 15, SOS 153
NorthWood (14-11), SAG 153, SOS 130
Lakeland (13-11), SAG 164, SOS 199
Wawasee (11-12), SAG 185, SOS 116
West Noble (3-20) SAG 291, SOS 150
What a run by the Fairfield Falcons the last couple of seasons. In 2021-2022, they made it to the Class 2A Semi-State. Then, after being bumped to Class 3A last season, they just go ahead and win the whole thing. Why not? Four starters left via the diploma, including Brea Garber (14.9p, 4.7r, 3.9a), Morgan Gawthrop (10.6p, 3.4r), Bailey Willard (9.8p, 3.2r), and Delana Geiger (1.5p, 4.9r). The cupboard isn’t completely bare, however, but they will need some youngsters to step up this season to come close to a repeat performance. 5-6 Senior guard Kaylee Dillon (7.5p, 2.7r) is the lone returning starter. 5-11 Sophomore wing(5.8p, 2.4r) has grown rapidly and shown great improvement. 5-4 Senior guard Natalie Whitaker (4.2p) has also seen her share of minutes the last couple of seasons. 5-7 Senior forward Jayslynn Hall (1.4p, 2.8r) can definitely help the Falcons inside. Keep an eye on Freshmen and Hayden Minder, who could each get an early look this season and eventually become 4-year Varsity contributors. Following a 2019-2020 Class 3A State Title, the NorthWood Black Swish struggled through a pair of 3-win seasons before returning to their winning ways last year. While they attempt to do so, they must play without leading scorer (11.3p, 3.3r, 2.9s), a Sophomore guard who led them in scoring as a rookie. She has transferred to Elkhart High School. 6-1 Junior front-liner (9.6p, 11.1r) does return, however, and she should be the focal point inside for the Panthers. 5-8 Senior wing Joselyn Edwards (8.8p, 3.4r) also returns, however Senior Karis Bennett (7.6p, 4.7r) has opted not to play this year. Look for a trio of Freshmen to potentially fill some of the voids sooner rather than later for NorthWood. They are 5-7 guard Ella Branham, 5-9 forward Addie Davis, and 5-4 guard Kinzee Hartman.
Following six consecutive double-digit win seasons, the Lakeland Lakers look to extend that streak to seven. It will be tough, though, minus the graduation losses of Peyton Hartsough (16.7p, 4.0r, 4.6a, 2.7s), Alivia Rasler (8.3p, 4.8r, 4.6a, 2.2s), and Grace Iddings (3.5p, 2.9r)…three of their top five scorers from last season. 5-9 Senior wing(10.5p, 3.2r) and 5-8 Senior forward Takya Wallace (3.8p, 5.1r) now look to lead the Lakers in 2023-2024. Oman is a nice perimeter shooter, while Wallace can work inside or out. 5-3 Sophomore guard Dulce Canedo (2.7p, 2.8r), plus Junior front-liner Cara Schackow (2.6p, 2.0r), also return with some experience. Freshman guard Zoey Bowman is another youngster who could be in line to make an immediate impact for Lakeland. Wawasee just missed the .500 mark last season, despite playing several younger players. They could be rewarded in a big way in 2023-2024, as nearly everyone returns. Leading the Warriors into battle this year will be a strong Junior class consisting of 5-7 guard Mackenzie Hackleman (10.0p, 3.6r, 2.5a, 3.3s), 5-10 forward (7.8p, 8.1r, 2.2s), 5-10 forward Molly Beer (4.8p, 4.2r), 5-3 guard Lucy Wilkinson (4.2p, 2.0a), 5-9 forward Ava Couture (2.1p), and 5-5 guard Lydia Stookey. Seniors Kaydence Shepherd (6.2p, 2.9r, 2.3s) and Kylie Perkins, both 5-4 guards, look to cap off their careers with a Sectional #20 title. West Noble posted their lowest win total since the 2004-2005 season, so they will definitely be aiming towards improvement this year. While Mackensy Mabie (14.1p, 3.8r, 2.9s) did leave via the diploma, nearly everyone else is back. 5-2 Senior guard Alexia Mast (6.5p, 3.2r, 2.2a) now steps into a leadership role, along with fellow Seniors Alayna DeLong (4.5p, 7.1r), a 5-10 post, Jalynn Baker (2.9p, 2.3r), a 5-4 wing, and Chloe Sprague (1.6p, 1.6r), a 5-2 guard. 5-8 Sophomore post Kayle Jordan (3.8p, 5.4r) showed promise as a Freshman and looks to make even more of an impact this season.