Archive for January 31, 2012

NICOLE ROGERS NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR SECOND TIME

Nicole Rogers drives during the Howard County Girls Basketball Tournament.

A pair of school-record scoring performances headline this week’s winners in the IBCA/Pacers-Fever Players of the Week program.

Leo junior A.J. Busche and Western senior Nicole Rogers each poured in 47 points to set respective school single-game records and earn honors in the awards program sponsored by the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever.

The duo was joined by Pike junior Zavier Turner, Columbus East junior Zach Martindale, Hauser senior Adam Miller, Wabash senior Kelsey Cromer and Loogootee senior Wynter Wagoner in claiming accolades for outstanding efforts.

All were cited for performances from Jan. 23-28, 2012.

Rogers received recognition in girls District 2 after leading Western (12-6) to two victories. The IUPUI recruit began with 18 points in a 51-44 victory over Tri-Central. The 6-0 wing shooter then unloaded for 47 points and tied her won school record with nine 3-pointers in a 92-42 triumph against Maconaquah. This is Rogers second Indiana player of the week award, and caps a sensational month in which she was also named the MVP of the Howard County Tournament. Rogers is currently second on Western’s all-time scoring chart and has a very good chance of topping the list when the season is over.

Busche captured honors in boys District 1. He opened his week with 21 points as Leo roared to a 115-91 victory over Woodlan. The 6-2 forward followed with 47 points and 15 rebounds as the Lions (9-6) hit the century mark again in a 107-90 win over Whitko. Busche netted seven 3-pointers in his record-setting performance.

Turner collected accolades in boys District 2, while Martindale and Miller shared honors for boys District 3.

A 5-8 point guard, Turner scored 29 points, grabbed five rebounds and dealt even assists in leading Pike to an 84-62 victory at Bloomington South. The Red Devils improved to 10-5 overall and 5-0 in Conference Indiana with the result, their first win at Bloomington South in 10 years. Turner connected on 10-of-17 shots, 5-of-10 3-pointers and 4-of-4 free throws.

Martindale averaged 33.0 points over two games in earning recognition. The 6-3 Martindale tallied 37 points and 11 rebounds in leading Columbus East to a 76-55 victory over East Central. He followed with 29 points and eight boards in pacing he Olympians (7-7) to an 85-69 win over Bloomington North. For the two games, Martindale made 23-of-31 field goals and 20-of-23 free throws.

The 6-5 Miller averaged 30.0 points over two game to share honors. He netted 18
points with 10 rebounds in helping Hauser claim a 73-68 decision over South Decatur. Miller then produced 42 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists in propelling the Jets (9-5) to a 96-78 win at Batesville.

Cromer and Wagoner were respective winners for girls Districts 2 and 3, both reaching 1,000 career points in their only games of the week.

The 5-9 Cromer poured in 36 points in leading Wabash (14-5) to a 64-44 victory over Whitko. Cromer sank a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter to reach 1,000 points, one of her six treys for the game. She also grabbed six rebounds, dealt four assists and had two steals for the Apaches.

Wagoner, a 5-6 guard, netted 28 points as Loogootee (12-6) had to go to double overtime to outlast South Knox 53-46. She drained a first-quarter 3-pointer to surpass 1,000 for her career.

This is the fourth season for the Pacers-Fever Players of the Week program coordinated through the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Winners are chosen each week from each of the IHSAA’s three districts. Girls winners will be chosen from now through the week following March 3. Boys winners will be chosen from now through the week following March 24.

LONG TIME COMING: KATS WIN FIRST WRESTLING SECTIONAL SINCE 2006

Kokomo head coach Ryan Wells poses with undefeated sectional champion wrestlers Bo Butler and Cameron Colby. (SJ Photo by William Gibson)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

CONVERSE – It had been a long time coming, and when the final score was announced last Saturday afternoon, the Red and Blue-clad Wildkat wrestling team let out a holler to let everyone know the monkey was gone. For the first time since 2006, the Kokomo Wildkats hoisted the IHSAA Oak Hill Wrestling Sectional team championship trophy as seven Kats claimed individual honors.

“This is special since it is my first one as the head coach,” said Kokomo coach Ryan Wells. “This is a special group since they were freshmen when I came on. We had seven guys in the finals and seven champions – you can’t do much more than that.”

Kokomo won the team title with 232.5 points. Oak Hill was second with 209, followed by Western (202.5), Marion (166), Mississinewa (86), Eastern (84), Northwestern (72), Eastbrook (67), Taylor (63.5) and Madison-Grant (49.5).

“Everything happened about exactly the way we thought it would,” said Wells, whose Kats finished second to Eastern in the previous two sectionals. “Western and Oak Hill both had really good days and I was nervous coming into the finals, but our guys did what they were supposed to do.”

As has been the case all season, a quartet of Kat wrestlers dominated the mats. With a combined record of 169-3, sophomore Fletcher Miller, and seniors Jesse Goodnight, Bo Butler and Cameron Colby entered as favorites and didn’t disappoint. Goodnight (42-2) claimed his third consecutive sectional title with a pin of Marion’s Tanner Williams at 160-pounds. Fletcher (43-1) won a tough 3-1 decision over Western’s Jake Wiechmann at 182. Butler (44-0) captured his first sectional title with a pin of Northwestern’s Raymond Monroe at 195, and Colby (40-0) kept his perfect record alive as he defended his 215-pound title with a pin of Western’s Dante Graham. The top four wrestlers at each weight advance to the regional competition.

“This feels great, but the big step was winning last year,” said Colby, a state qualifier a year ago. “A goal all year was to get better, and this is the first step.”

But Colby and Wells both said this was a team victory, with the entire team contributing. Andrew Ledford pinned Marion’s Salvador Puente at 113-pounds, Chad Gaddis won an 11-4 decision over Western’s Dustin Hinkle at 138 and Keair Ross won a 4-2 decision over Western’s Logan Shepherd at 170. In addition, A.J. Nelson finished third at 106-pounds to advance to the regionals, Scotty Barbary was third at 120, Christian Hall was third at 126 and Tony Benedict was fourth at 132.

Howard County put on a great show as three wrestlers joined the Kat Seven to win sectional crowns. Caleb Maddox of Western started the championship round with a 12-3 decision over Marion’s Seth Lloyd at 106-pounds, Eastern’s Zach Alexander pinned Oak Hill’s Jared Wallace at 132, and Western’s Corey Hinkle won a 9-1 decision over Northwestern’s Luke Akers.

Other county wrestlers advancing to the regional are Eastern’s Tyler Smith and Taylor’s Stephen Sholty at 120, Northwestern’s Drew Miller at 126, Taylor’s Logan Sarber and Western’s Skylar Braden at 145, Western’s Cody Cyr at 160, Western’s Russell McDorman at 195, Taylor’s Parker Vanmeter at 220 and Western’s Brad Penning at 285.

But the day belonged to the Kats, and Butler was all smiles after the trophy presentation.

“Our plan all week was to go in and give it our all,” said the undefeated senior. “We had to take care of business, as you can tell. My game plan was to take the first takedown, and that is what I got. That is all I wanted to do – and get the most points for my team.”

It is rare for teams to have an undefeated wrestler, and Kokomo knows it has something special with two perfectionists.

“I knew those two, and Jesse, were going to be hard to beat,” said Wells. “To come in undefeated at sectionals, well, you don’t get that very often. But I can’t say I was surprised. They are very high caliber wrestlers and to be undefeated is special – it is really neat.”

Kokomo has no time to rest as it will wrestle in the IHSAA Logansport Team Regional on Wednesday, then the IHSAA Peru Individual Regional on Saturday.

JOINING THE RANKS: BALLARD FOR A THOUSAND

Northwestern Athletic Director Dan Armstrong presents a 1,000 point plaque to senior Lady Tiger Kylie Ballard.

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

Good things come to good people, and from all accounts, Northwestern senior three-sport standout Kylie Ballard is one of those good people. So when the talented hoopster joined the ranks of Lady Tigers basketball elite, not a bad word could be heard about the newest member of the 1,000 Point Club.

“She is Northwestern,” stated Tigers Athletic Director Dan Armstrong. “She means a lot to this school and the community. She is just a great young lady and we will be sorry to see her go. You get used to seeing someone like that walk the halls; someone who doesn’t get in any trouble and just comes out every day and works. When they aren’t there, you miss them. She will be missed a year from now. And education comes first as she is also a great student.”

Ballard entered last Saturday’s Mid-Indiana Conference game against Maconaquah needing nine points to go over 1,000 for her career. After scoring the first six points of the game, fans started getting excited. Then, with 2:05 left in the second quarter and the Lady Tigers holding a slim 17-15 lead, Ballard took a pass, stepped back behind the 3-point arc, and let fly a shot that would send the crowd into a standing ovation and start the tears flowing from family and teammates.

“I knew I had three points left, so I kind of thought I wanted to get it over with,” said Ballard of her step-back triple. “I don’t like pondering over things, so I wanted to get it over with so we could keep playing.”

Ballard’s shot so energized the Lady Tigers that they would hold the Lady Braves to just five points the rest of the game and coast to a 44-20 victory. And that pretty much sums up the Northwestern season and how important Ballard is to the squad. Northwestern started the season 3-5 as Ballard sat on the bench with a leg injury. But since her return, the Lady Tigers are 5-2 and look to be peaking at the right time with sectionals just around the corner.

“You could see we were a different team without her,” said Armstrong. “As soon as she came back, she calmed the team down and that tells you what kind of leadership she provides.”

Ballard joins Kim Tussinger (1,331), Katy Hinkle (1,202), Marci Norris (1,101) and Heather Luttrell (1,084) in the Lady Tigers 1,000 Point Club. She is the 11th overall at Northwestern, and the 32nd girl and 60th overall in the 109-year history of Howard County basketball to score 1,000 points. Those numbers are not lost on head coach Todd Miller.

“To be the fifth player is just such an honor and we have talked to our other girls about the significance of this,” said Miller. “You can have some really good players that don’t make it to 1,000 points. You have to have a good career, and she came in her freshman year and has been our leading scorer every year. She is an absolute joy to coach and I couldn’t be happier for her.”

Everyone agrees that Ballard is a hard worker both on and off the court. And along the way she has come up with various injuries, like the leg injury that slowed her this year. But one injury that didn’t stop her happened in her very first Northwestern basketball game.

“She started in her first game against Kokomo as a freshman, and in warm-ups of that game she broke the first knuckle of one of her fingers,” said Armstrong. “But she wanted to play so bad she didn’t say anything. I was watching the game thinking it didn’t look right, but she had a double-double in that first game with a broken finger – 10 points and 10 rebounds. That tells you what kind of player she is.”

Ballard and Miller both chuckled at the story as the memory returned, and she admitted she just loves the competition.

“I don’t care what the statistics are, I just want to play,” she said. “I love the drive no matter if I am hurting or not.”

Ballard, who is in the midst of an outstanding three-sport prep career (volleyball, basketball and track and field), will continue her career at the University of Indianapolis this fall as a dual-sport athlete. She is the two-time sectional runner-up in the high jump and finished fourth as a junior at the 38th Annual IHSAA State Girls Track and Field Championships in Bloomington.

“She is a leader in this school,” said Armstrong. “She is a three-sport athlete and is going to the next level to play basketball and high jump – so she is a two-sport college athlete which is almost unheard of at the NCAA Division II level. She works extremely hard, and with her work ethic, she is just an amazing leader.”

“I think it is going to be a lot of fun,” said Ballard of her college future. “I didn’t want to stop playing and am excited about playing in college. But I couldn’t get there without my teammates, my family and my coach – they were all very supportive of me. My whole family has supported me. It was nice and overwhelming seeing all of the signs of support today in the crowd.”

And those signs of support would not have been on display if Kylie Ballard were not such a good person.