BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – Sometimes, the end result is worth the wait. Twenty-five years after being denied a position on the 1989 Indiana All-Star girls basketball squad, the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame has named Western graduate Wendy Aldridge to its prestigious 2014 Silver Anniversary Team. The honor is based on outstanding accomplishments of senior basketball players 25 years ago and includes 18 former high school players.
“I want to thank Cindy Lester who took the time to think of me and nominate me,” said Aldridge, who now resides in Florida. “I also got a very nice note from (HOF President) Jim Callane. I actually attended his basketball camps in middle school even though I was at Western. He let me participate in them when he was (the head boys coach) at Haworth.”
When Aldridge was graduated from Western in 1989, many thought she would become the first female Indiana All-Star from Western. Unfortunately, that did not pan out despite a worthy resume. The 6-footer averaged 22.9 points per game her senior season and left as Howard County and Western’s all-time career scoring leader with 1,403 points. She also grabbed 9.7 rebounds, dished five assists, hit 43 percent of her field goals and 80 percent from the charity stripe.
But like any athlete, she will tell you that winning, not individual numbers, are why one plays the game. And that highlight came when the Panthers won the 1989 IHSAA Northwestern Girls Basketball Sectional during the one-class basketball era. The Lady Panthers knocked off Kokomo 64-48 for the school’s fourth, and final, one-class sectional title for Western en route to an 18-4 season. After Aldridge was graduated, the Lady Wildkats defeated Western 24 consecutive times, with the streak finally broken in 2010.
Following her senior season, she was named First Team All-State, Huntington Tipoff Club All-State and the two-time Kokomo Kiwanis Area Most Valuable Player. She was also a four-time Mid-Indiana Conference performer.
Aldridge also became the first female basketball player from Western to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship when she signed to play at Butler University. After redshirting her freshman season because of stress fractures in both legs, she never fully recovered. She stayed on the Bulldogs squad and eventually was a player/assistant coach prior to graduating in 1993.
Aldridge now serves as the program coordinator at the Englewood Sports Complex in Florida – a 136-acre Sarasota County park complex that includes eight Little League fields, two softball fields, four soccer fields, eight tennis courts and two playgrounds. The complex also includes an 11,000 square foot multi-purpose gymnasium, weight room and seven fishing ponds.
The 2014 Silver Anniversary Team includes 10 members of the 1989 Indiana All-Star squad, among them Indiana’s Miss Basketball. Eight other all-state players are included to comprise the best of Indiana’s high school class of 1989.
Joining Aldridge on the Silver Anniversary Team are 1989 Miss Basketball Renee Westmoreland of Scottsburg; Aldridge; Krista Blunk, Tell City; Andresa (Smith) Brown, Marion; Courtney (Cox) Cole, Noblesville; Jennifer (Cole) Davis, Valarasio; Tricia Cullop, North Knox; Sheryl (Klemme) Christmas, Benton Central; Sabrina (Slone) Duncan, Alexandria; Courtney (Sands) Gault, Logansport; Michelle (Harris) Hoskins, Gary Wallace; Heather (Youngman) Jaynes, Brebeuf Jesuit; Nancy (Hoover) Larkey, Huntington North; Karen McCaa, Columbus North; Bridget Pettis, East Chicago Central; Kellie (Moran) Sade, Penn; Julie (VonDielingen) Shelton, Seymour; and Sloan (Haughey) Swanson, Hamilton.
All Women’s Silver Anniversary Team members will be honored at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 13th Annual Women’s Banquet on April 26, 2014. The ceremony will take place at the Primo Banquet Hall, which is located on the south side of Indianapolis. Tickets will be made available to the public in coming weeks or can be reserved through the Hall’s website at www.hoopshall.com. Call the Hall at (765) 529-1891 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.