Archive for May 15, 2012

ANCILLA COLLEGE SIGNS TWO FROM HOWARD COUNTY

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. - For the third and fourth times this year, Ancilla College has dipped into the deep well of Howard County high school athletics to find and sign players to dress in a Chargers uniform this fall. This time, Brooke Barbary of Taylor signed to play volleyball and Arienne Beard of Kokomo signed to play basketball. The duo will join Eastern volleyball players Hayley Mavrick and Hannah Kelley on the Ancilla campus when the 2012-2013 school year begins.

“Howard County is good,” said Ancilla volleyball coach Lana Singleton. “I am very excited about the girls from Eastern and Taylor that I have signed. We are playing some really good volleyball right now – my returning team is good, and my recruits are good. This is a good area right now.”

Brooke Barbary, volleyball

With a huge smile, Barbary talked about how exciting it is to have made a college choice and to know that she will have an opportunity to play the game she loves for at least two more years.

“What a great opportunity to play volleyball in college,” said Barbary, who will study history before she embarks on her law degree. “Ancilla is a great place and the coach is great. It is a very nice facility.”

Barbary noted that she played two seasons at Kokomo before transferring to Taylor.

“I started varsity at Taylor my junior year, and we struggled but had fun,” she said. “But we took Western to four games while I was here, and it was just a great experience.”

Myndie Everling, the Taylor volleyball coach, praised Barbary’s hard work, which would evolve the setter into a team leader.

“I am just really proud of her; she became a great leader, worked hard, and became a co-captain this year,” said Everling. “She stepped up and I think she will step into a role at Ancilla. I can see her in the back row, or with her soft hands, as a setter.”

Singleton said she did not have an opportunity to see Barbary play during the school year, but thanks to recruiting a pair of Eastern players, Lady Comet coach Meredith Cipriano recommended the Taylor senior.

“It if weren’t for Meredith, I would not have known about Brooke – so Meredith deserves the credit on this one. She asked if I would take a look at Brooke, and I did and obviously liked what I saw,” said Singleton. “(Barbary’s) attitude is what drew me to her. When I saw her play, she was rusty because the season was over, but I loved the fact that she was trying hard and had a pleasant attitude. I want the whole package – good students, good people, good work ethic and good volleyball skills. Sometimes one of those is not more important than the others.”

Arienne Beard, basketball

Beard was a 5-4 point guard on the Lady Wildkats this past season. During her career, she played in 48 games, scored 113 points, grabbed 109 rebounds, made 87 steals and dished 92 assists. Her senior season, she led the Lady Kats in assists with 2.4 per game.

“She has come a long way and has been our starting point guard the last two years,” said Lady Kats head coach Jason Snyder. “She has also led our team in minutes played the last two years. This year, we wanted to push the ball more and she did that well. She has been in the paper more for defense than on offense. She could be an even better college player than a high school player.”

Beard said she chose Ancilla because it was a good opportunity to continue playing basketball, and she said this will be a goal fulfilled.

“I think I will fit in well,” said the shy senior. “I am just looking forward to playing for the Chargers.”

Ancilla head coach Stephanie Beason is excited about bringing in a Lady Kat to her program.

“Arienne is going to be a good fit for us,” she said. “When I watched her play against Richmond, she was just calm, cool and collected – even when she was guarded by two and three people. We have a lot of teams who will do the same, and I think she will step on the floor right off the bat and play for us. Arienne has a lot of things that factor in that will be good for us. I am a run-and-gun type of coach, and she has been in that style and will do good things.”

Beason also noted Beard’s defensive skills.

“We want to get some full-court pressure, and she can work both ends of the floor,” she said. “It is not often that you get someone that is good on both sides of it, but Arienne is one of those.”

With Barbary, Beard, Mavrick and Kelley all signed to play at Ancilla College, the Howard County pipeline to Donaldson, Ind., is flowing heavily. The next question is, while these players excel for the Chargers, who will be next in line for the drive north.

KHRIN SIGNS WITH COUGARS; IU KOKOMO ROSTER FILLS QUICKLEY FOR 2012-13 CAMPAIGN

Spencer Khrin signs with IU Kokomo as head coach Jace Thompson watches.

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. - Last season, Indiana University Kokomo men’s basketball coach Jace Thompson often talked about the young programs lack of playing experience. With a year under the Cougar programs belt, the experience is building – especially when Thompson grabs key transfers from Bethel College, Ancilla College and Joliet Community College. Last Thursday, it was Bethel transfer Spencer Khrin’s day in the Cougar spotlight.

“It is closer to home and an all-around better situation for me,” said the LaFontaine, Ind., native and 2010 Southwood High School graduate. “My family will be able to come to all of my games and it is going to lead into the IU medical school. For me, it is just an all-around better position to be in.”

The 6-4 Khrin played in a reserve role for the Pilots the last two seasons after starring for a Southwood team that advanced to the Class 2A Final Four his senior season. In the regional final against Guerin Catholic, he scored 38 points and was invited to the Top 60 workouts after averaging 19.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He guided Southwood to 52 wins in his career and left as the program’s third all-time leading scorer (1,249 points) and a three-time All-Three Rivers Conference performer.

Southwood coach John Burrus said, "Spencer Khrin is as good of a combination player I have coached. He is a player that all you have to do is tell him what needs be done and he will do it. He can shoot it, defend, handle and pass. He is a great athlete with tremendous touch. Spencer can do it all. He just needs a place where he feels needed. I believe IU Kokomo will be a good fit for Spencer. He will be a key to raising their level of play as they move into the NAIA."

Khrin said he will be expected to come to Kokomo and help the less experienced players by being a leader.

“I know I am going to help offensively and defensively as a leader,” said Khrin. “I can play anywhere, and will probably be playing a (guard) position here. I was a set shooter at Bethel, so playing the two will be a nice change.”

He also discussed the opportunity he will have to build a young, hungry program like Kokomo’s.

“Just being the second year, I am real excited about the opportunity to build a legacy.” He said. “With IUK in the NAIA now, they are getting more notice around the area. That was one of the big draws. And (Thompson) was one of the most honest coaches I have ever dealt with. I just really think this will be a good fit.”

And as excited as Khrin is to come to Kokomo, Thompson is equally excited about the prospects of bringing Khrin’s talents to the local program.

“Spencer is a great kid and a bright student in the classroom,” said the second-year coach. “He is going to bring a lot of intensity and focus on the defensive end, but he is also a prolific scorer. When we played them at Bethel this year, he had a couple of moves that were spectacular. So we are looking forward to adding that to our offense. We wanted to add that impact to our program.”

Thompson also talked about the hard work the IUK coaching staff has put in during the off-season, resulting in a solid second-year recruiting class. He said they really wanted to bring in some “impact players” like Khrin.

“We had a couple of players that we wanted to get because they were impact players,” said Thompson. “Khrin was one of them. We are also raising the level of intensity on the floor. We are recruiting good ball players who are not worried about numbers.

“I am happy with our recruiting, and having a 32 game schedule and being in the NAIA now has helped. That is the biggest attraction, going out and playing Top 25 teams and helping to build a legacy here at IUK.”

Thompson broke down the 2012-2013 recruiting class, which are all verbal commitments until they sign on the dotted line with the Cougars.

“We nailed every single need we had – size, strength, all-around ability, and experience. We hit every target and I give my coaches credit for that. We have four freshmen coming: Tyler Talpas of Union (Dugger) High School, John Capps and Ben Constable from Western, and Jalen Tinder from Kokomo.

“Jalen was our first commitment and has already been to open gym with us – he surprises me every day. He has been a huge surprise and has already started earning respect from our players.”

Talpas is a high-scoring guard, averaging 21.8 points per game and is a member of the school’s 1,000 Point Club.

“Joby Renbarger (transferring from Ancilla College) is a 6-7 beast and he is hard to handle,” said Thompson. “He is the type of player who is a matchup problem. He will go inside and outside and will be hard to guard.

“Roemey Northington played at Taylor High School before going to Joliet Community College. He is going to come in and be a great point guard for us.”

The Cougars are scheduled to open the 2012-2013 season on October 30, with a road trip to Judson University in Elgin, Ill. Judson appeared in the NAIA National Tournament in 2008 and 2010, and will provide Coach Thompson and his Cougars with instant analysis of how the off-season preparation went. The rest of the IUK schedule will be released later.

BALLARD SIGNS AGAIN: WILL PLAY TWO SPORTS AT UINDY

Kylie Ballard with her family as she signs her letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Indianapolis.

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. - For a high school student-athlete being asked by a college coach to continue playing the sport she loves at the next level is a dream come true. So think of the elation the Ballard family enjoyed when the University of Indianapolis asked Northwestern senior Kylie Ballard to play two sports in college?

"It is just good to know that I am going somewhere, so I am really excited and am glad I get to play a second sport,” said Ballard, minutes after signing a letter of intent to play on the Lady Greyhound basketball team. She previously had signed to high jump on the school’s women’s track and field team. “I already knew some people there, so that will make it easier.”

Ballard is a multi-sports superstar for the Lady Tigers. On the basketball floor, she is a 5-11 forward who was named a Top 60 player in Indiana by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association, is a member of the 1,000 Point Club, and has the rare distinction of being a Mid-Indiana Conference first team honoree in all four years she has played.

She finished her career with 1,085 career points, which ranks fourth-best among Lady Tigers. Only Kim Tussinger (1,331), Katy Hinkle (1,202) and Marci Norris (1,101) have scored more points while dressing in the purple and white. In Howard County girls basketball, she is the 24th best scorer of all-time.

On the track, she is a record-breaking, two-time state qualifier in the high jump. As a junior, she cleared 5-7 to finish fourth in the IHSAA state championships. She also holds the prestigious Kokomo Relays high jump record, which she set during the 87th running of the “Oldest continuous high school track meet in the United States.”

“What a great athlete, and just a great kid,” said Todd Miller, who recently resigned as the Northwestern girls basketball coach. “She is a very high character kid who has dedicated herself to her sports. It has been a joy to have her, and I think she is on the rise. We had to play her in a wing position, and she is kind of untapped there because she can play the perimeter as well.”

UIndy women’s basketball coach Constantin Popa is thrilled to have Ballard join the squad and agrees with Miller’s assessment of the potential for the hoopster to grow on the court.

“Kylie is a fine young woman with great potential,” said Popa, whose squad qualified for the NCAA Division II national tournament last season. “She is a talented basketball player who will have an excellent opportunity to make a significant impact at UIndy on and off the basketball court. She's is a tremendous rebounder and she possesses the versatility to play in the post and also out on the perimeter. Kylie will definitely fit in our style of play, and I think she's just scratching the surface of her potential.”

Ballard said one of the thrills of her career was getting to play with her sister, Hannah, who was a freshman on this year’s Lady Tigers team.

“That was awesome,” she said with a big smile. “It is always good to play with a sibling, and I am glad we got to play together. Volleyball is her big sport – she is definitely a volleyball girl - but she loves basketball, and I loved getting to play with her for a year. And she is high jumping with me this year.”

According to Northwestern Athletic Director Dan Armstrong, Ballard, a member of the National Honor Society, is the kind of student-athlete that the entire school can look up to.

“Earlier in the winter, I said how important she was to Northwestern,” he said. “Any time you have someone go to the next level to play sports, you are doing something right. For Kylie to go, it says something about Northwestern athletics and Kylie’s desire. I think that is awesome.

“Her work ethic is non-stop. She has not taken a break at any time in high school and will earn 12 varsity letters, which is almost unheard of anymore. And she is still playing AAU during the summer and fulfilling what her basketball, volleyball and track coaches ask of her during that time. She gets no breaks and still loves it. It is exciting to see her, and I hope all of our student-athletes look up to her and want to be like her. She is a role model inside and outside of the classroom. Our students should look up to her.”

Miller said Ballard is a “leader by example. She plays hard and plays under control and steady. She could have played the game for herself, but she didn’t – she is a team player. We are calmer when she is on the floor; she can keep everyone in perspective. And she has a great grade point average. She just worked through high school on academics and sports.”

And there is no doubt that Ballard will continue with her superior work ethic and will represent Northwestern and the Kokomo-area very well in the Circle City.