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Girls BB: County tournament preview

December 26, 2012
By Andrew Smith of Hancock County Sports



Hancock County girls basketball tournament

SEMIFINALS (10 a.m., Dec. 29)
Greenfield-Central (3-7) at Eastern Hancock (9-3)
New Palestine (2-7) at Mt. Vernon (8-2)

CHAMPIONSHIP/CONSOLATION (6 p.m. Dec. 29)
Championship: Greenfield-Central Cougar Gym
Consolation: Greenfield-Central fieldhouse

Webcasts of both semifinal games & the championship game at http://www.ihigh.com/hancockcountysports 

GREENFIELD-CENTRAL (3-7)
Head coach: Doug Laker (5th year at G-C, 53-41)
Results this year: W Cambridge City Lincoln 49-23; L Franklin 41-52; L New Castle 38-52; L Pendleton Heights 48-67; L Marion 48-52; L Rushville 39-52; W New Palestine 45-27; L Chatard 55-77; W Shelbyville 63-41; L Connersville 30-37. 
Pts for/against: 45.6/48.0
Sagarin rating: 59.97 (84th 4A/188 overall)
County championships: 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09
Last year in the county tourney: 3rd
All-time county tourney record: 11-7
Projected starters: G-Shelby Oldham, G-Regan Lewis, G-Emily Koers, G-Brooke Bell, F-Sara Jones
Top scorers: Sara Jones (9.0), Shelby Oldham (8.6)
Best result so far: A 45-27 win over New Palestine on Dec. 7
Outlook: The Cougars are a young team – Sara Jones and Shelby Davis are the only seniors in the regular rotation – and guard-oriented. They’ve been competitive against some good teams so far, and they’re one of the most well-coached teams in the area under Doug Laker’s tutelage. The hallmark for G-C is balance – nobody averages more than 9 ppg, but six players average at least 4.9 points per contest. G-C has had some tough sledding against a tough schedule so far.

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EASTERN HANCOCK (9-3)
Head coach: Jeremy Powers (2nd year at EH, 21-12; 6th overall, 55-55)
Pts for/against: 53.7/48.5
Results this year: L Elwood 39-48; W Muncie South 83-32; W Franklin County 48-42; L Indian Creek 45-74; W South Decatur 67-47; W Union County 49-42; L North Decatur 45-61; W Northeatern 50-47; W Lapel 56-47; W Knightstown 51-42; W Cambridge City Lincoln 46-41; W Southwestern (Shelby) 65-59.
Sagarin rating: 59.05 (35th 2A/198 overall)
County championships: none
Last year in the county tourney: 4th        
All-time county tourney record: 1-17
Projected starters: G-Kiersten Schrope; G-Hannah Best; F-Lauren Harmon; F-Kristen Eischen; C-Kaytlin Eastes
Top scorers: Kiersten Schrope (12.7); Hannah Best (11.8); Kristen Eischen (9.0)
Top rebounders: Kristen Eischen (7.8), Kiersten Schrope (6.0)
Best result so far: A 65-59 win over Southwestern (Shelby) Dec. 21
Outlook: The Royals have really turned things on in recent weeks, coming into the tourney with a five-game winning streak. Included in that streak is two victories against ranked foes – 56-47 over then-1A No. 10 Lapel on Dec. 11, then 69-65 over Southwestern (Shelby) 10 days later. Schrope is the engine that makes the Royals go. Always a threat to get a triple-double – she’s come close a couple of times this year – she’s the team’s leading scorer, second-leading rebounder and leader in assists (5.8). Best is the outside shooter – she averages two 3-pointers made a game, and hits on 11.8 ppg – while Eischen (9 points, 7.8 reb, 2.2 stl) does a lot of work inside. This Royal team is able to get up a lot of shots – EH averages an astounding 57 shot attempts per game – and use its defense to turn into offense. EH hasn’t won a county tourney game since 2004-05 – when it won the semifinal round and finished runner-up to Mt. Vernon – but the Royal program is on the upswing. It’s also going to be for some time – Eastes is the lone senior on the roster.

Sagarin says: G-C is about a 5-point favorite according to the Sagarin predictor ranking.

NEW PALESTINE (2-7)
Head coach: Jacki Negri (3rd year, 23-28)
Pts for/against: 34.4/50.3
Results this year: L Whiteland 19-56; L Franklin Central 13-73; L Westfield 27-68; W Arlington 77-16; L Delta 34-40; L Shelbyville 44-52; L Greenfield-Central 27-45; L Mt. Vernon 30-67; W Yorktown 39-36
Sagarin rating: 46.78 (98th 4A, 278 overall)
County championships: 2005-06
Last year in the county tourney: 2nd
All-time county tourney record: 10-8
Projected starters: G-Emma Laughlin, G-Natalie Kehrt, G-Adie Lorsung, F-Haley Stratman, C-Carly Hackler
Top scorers: Haley Stratman (10.1), Natalie Kehrt (4.9)
Top rebounders: Carly Hackler (4.8), Haley Stratman (4.1)
Best result so far: A 39-36 win over Yorktown Dec. 15
Outlook: The Dragons are one of the youngest teams in the state – often starting four freshmen, and having no varsity player older than a sophomore. As one might expect, the early games were rough for the Dragons, but they’ve been competitive in their recent outings – going to the wire against Delta and Shelbyville, cutting what was at one time an 18-point deficit against Greenfield-Central to 11, and then rallying in the fourth quarter to beat Yorktown in their last outing. That was the Dragons’ strongest outing of the season, and saw several players step up in key roles. Stratman is a solid 3-point shooter but, with her size, can be a matchup problem inside. A lot of other players – Kehrt, Gia Nitschke and Laughlin among them – average at leats 4.4 ppg and provide balance. Kehrt ranks second on the team in scoring, third in rebounding and leads in assists. If the Dragons can get solid scoring nights from multiple players, they can be a dangerous team, although the first-round matchup with Mt. Vernon will be a tough one.

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MT. VERNON (8-2)
Head coach: Julie Shelton (15th year, 228-100)
Pts for/against: 60.3/47.9
Results this year: W Connersville 47-38; W Lawrence Central 50-48; W Rushville 68-66; L Hamilton Heights 61-70; W Muncie Central 61-36; W Pendleton Heights 56-33; L Anderson 75-83 OT; W Yorktown 50-37; W New Palestine 67-30; W Franklin 68-37.
Sagarin rating: 85.24 (5th 3A/36th overall). Ranked No. 7 in ICGSA 3A poll
County championships: 2003-04, 2004-05, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12
Last year in the county tourney: 1st
All-time county tourney record: 15-3
Projected starters: G-Sydney Shelton, G-Rachel Houck, F-Maddie Walrod, F-Krista Shockley, C-Erica Moore
Top scorers: Erica Moore (19.3), Sydney Shelton (16.1), Rachel Houck (10.9)
Top rebounders: Erica Moore (7.6), Sydney Shelton (3.0)
Best result so far: A 50-48 win over Lawrence Central
Outlook: The Marauders are again one of the elite teams in the state, and are the overwhelming favorite to win another county title. MV has won three straight championships – no team has won four in a row. While this Marauder team has been shorthanded – Olivia Coleman is out with an injury, Ellie Balbach has missed several games and Maddie Walrod returned against New Palestine after also missing a handful of games due to injuries – it has allowed other plaeyrs like Shaley Duff (3.4 ppg) to step in and see key minutes. This Marauder team is in the driver’s seat to win its third straight HHC title and a favorite to make another deep run in the state tournament. Houck and Moore are returning starters from last year’s 3A state runners-up. Moore averages 19.3 points and 7.6 rebunds, and was the leading scorer when MV beat NP 67-30 back on Dec. 13, despite playing just two and a half quarters. Houck’s scoring numbers are down because she has had to move to point guard duties, but she averages 3.6 assists per game. The addition of Shelton to the lineup has been huge, as she has been one of the team’s top scorers each night.

Sagarin says: MV is a 38-point favorite in the Sagarin predictor ranking.

Looking ahead to potential final-round matchups: MV would be about a 21-point favorite over G-C and a 25-point favorite over EH. G-C would be a 16-point favorite and EH a nine-point favorite over New Palestine.  

GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES (title game hosts)

2011-12: Mt. Vernon 47, New Palestine 31 (host: Mt. Vernon)

2010-11: Mt. Vernon 55, New Palestine 32 (host: Eastern Hancock)

2009-10: Mt. Vernon 48, Greenfield-Central 37 (host: New Palestine)

2008-09: Greenfield-Central 40, Mt. Vernon 39 (host: Mt. Vernon)

2007-08: Greenfield-Central 54, Mt. Vernon 38 (host: New Palestine)

2006-07: Greenfield-Central 62, Mt. Vernon 43 (host: Eastern Hancock)

2005-06: New Palestine 78, Greenfield-Central 75, 2OT (host: Mt. Vernon)

2004-05: Mt. Vernon 42, Eastern Hancock 35 (host: New Palestine)

2003-04: Mt. Vernon 63, New Palestine 47 (host: Greenfield-Central)


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