District-3 had several big-time performances last week in both boys’ and girls’ hoops.
Cloverdale Senior Kyle Thomas put together a strong weekend, helping the Clovers to a pair of victories. It began Friday night, when the 6-4 guard erupted for 42 points in a 65-55 win against Cascade. Thomas was 15-28 from the floor, 3-7 from 3-point range, and 9-10 from the free throw line. He posted a double-double with his 11 rebounds, plus he managed to add five assists and four steals in victory.
The next day, in a low-scoring, 34-31 win against Parke Heritage, Thomas still managed to score 19 points. He was 7-13 from the field, 4-9 from deep, and he made a free throw in the triumph. With four assists, the senior guard had his hand in roughly 80% of their points over the weekend. Thomas also collected six rebounds against the Wolves.
South Decatur Senior Hunter Johnson and Terre Haute North Vigo Senior Zoe Stewart stood out among the group, pouring in the points in multiple games last week. In a Senior-laden group, six total young men and women were chosen as Week-11 IBCA/Franciscan Health Players of the Week.
In addition to Johnson and Stewart, Central Noble Senior Connor Essegian, Cloverdale Senior Kyle Thomas, South Bend St. Joseph Senior Kelly Ratigan, and McCutcheon Senior Teresa Maggio were selected as recipients for Jan. 10-Jan. 15 in the recognition program coordinated by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Essegian is the boys’ selection, and Ratigan is the girls’ selection in District-1. Thomas is the boys’ recipient, while Maggio is the girls’ recipient in District-2. Johnson and Stewart take home boys’ and girls’ honors, respectively, in District-3.
With four consecutive wins last week, the Central Noble Cougars won the Northeast Corner Conference Tournament for the third straight year. Senior Connor Essegian is a big reason for that success, and last week he added to his long list of career accomplishments. Tuesday night, in an opening round, 67-41 win against Angola, Essegian eclipsed the 2000-point mark and became Noble County’s all-time leading scorer as well. The 6-4 guard was 13-20 from the field, scoring 28 points in the outing. He added eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals in the effort.
The next night, Essegian and the Cougars took on rival West Noble in what would prove to be their toughest matchup of the week, advancing with a 59-52 victory. Once again, the Senior guard was stellar, scoring 34 points on 10-19 shooting, including a 12-14 effort from the free throw line. He also managed to post a double-double by grabbing 11 rebounds, and he added a pair of assists.
Friday, in the NECC Semi-Finals, Central Noble took care of Fremont, 61-42. Essegian was more impactful from behind the arc, burying six of his 11 3-point attempts on his way to 24 points. Toss in six rebounds, three assists, and a pair of steals, and the University of Wisconsin commit again contributed to his team’s success in multiple ways.
Finally, the Cougars won the title Friday, knocking off Eastside, 62-44. In the championship game, Essegian provided a championship effort. The Senior was a dependable 14-22 from the field, 5-11 from deep, and a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe, scoring 39 points in total on the evening. The 6-4 guard added nine more boards, and he is now at 2104 career points.
In South Bend, St. Joseph Senior Kelly Ratigan helped the Lady Indians to a 2-1 record last week. Tuesday, in a home contest against Goshen, Ratigan was 11-16 from the field and 4-6 from long range for 26 points, as the Lady Indians beat Goshen, 52-37. Additionally, the 5-8 guard pulled down six rebounds, handed out four assists, and collected three steals in the win.
Thursday, in a Northern Indiana Conference matchup with John Glenn, St. Joseph unfortunately fell, 64-60. Ratigan was still effective, scoring 25 points and knocking down five triples in defeat. The Loyola University (Maryland) commit contributed six more rebounds and three more assists, but it just wasn’t enough to pull out the victory.
St. Joseph and Ratigan returned to the floor Saturday, as the Lady Indians bounced back with a decisive, 68-47 win against Marquette Catholic. The 5-8 Senior got hot again, making 11-19 shots, including a scorching 7-12 from deep, scoring 29 points in the outing. She grabbed six more caroms, dished out another seven assists, and snagged four steals in the triumph.
After missing November with an injury, McCutcheon Senior Teresa Maggio’s return was gladly welcomed by the Mavericks, and she has continued to find her stride over the last couple of weeks. Tuesday, in a close, 72-66 loss to a very good Zionsville team, the 5-5 point guard did all that she could, scoring 37 points in defeat. The IUPUI commit was 10-19 from the floor, 5-12 from 3-point range, plus she was a perfect 12-12 from the charity stripe. Maggio added six rebounds, six assists, and a pair of steals, in what proved to be their only game of the week.
South Decatur Senior Hunter Johnson has scored the ball at a high level all season, but what he did over the weekend was record-setting. First, Friday night, in a big rivalry game against North Decatur, Johnson had a tough outing shooting the ball in a hard-fought, 72-58 loss at the hands of the Chargers. Still, though, Johnson scored above his average with 34 points, he made 11-13 shots from the free throw line, and he picked up eight rebounds.
The next day, Johnson and the Cougars were looking for redemption, and they got it by way of a 79-67 win against Southwestern (Shelbyville). The 6-2 Senior set school records for points in a game and 3-pointers made, as he blistered the nets for 53 points on 17-30 from the field, 7-13 from outside, and 12-13 from the line. The Senior guard also posted a double-double with his 12 rebounds, plus he found teammates on four other occasions for scores and picked up two steals in the bounce-back win.
Speaking of high-level scoring, Terre Haute North Vigo Senior Zoe Stewart has managed 118 points in just her last three games, or a 39.3 scoring average over that stretch. As for last week, specifically, Stewart helped her team to a pair of wins. Tuesday, the Lady Patriots hosted Marshall (IL), pulling out a tightly-contested, 72-64 victory. The 5-8 guard exploded for 45 points, as she buried four shots from deep and was an efficient 11-13 from the free throw line. Stewart added four rebounds, five assists, and six steals in the all-around effort.
Friday night, Stewart and North Vigo went on the road for their crosstown rivalry game with Terre Haute South Vigo. The Lady Patriots won easily, and Stewart was again electric in limited minutes. The Murray State University commit still managed 31 points on 13-20 shooting, she buried a pair of long bombs, and she knocked down three of her four free tosses in the win. The Senior guard also handed out four more assists, and she collected a pair of steals, helping the Lady Patriots to a 15-6 record overall.
This is the 14th season for the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Week program, but just the second season it is being presented by Franciscan Health, a corporate sponsor of the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.
Player of the Week winners are chosen each week from each of the IHSAA’s three districts. Girls’ winners will be chosen through the Monday following the IHSAA Girls State Finals. Boys’ winners will be chosen through the Monday following the IHSAA Boys State Finals.
Other Top Nominees for Week-11 (2021-22)
District-1 Boys: Markus Burton, Penn; Tyson Good, Lewis Cass; Tyvon Henry, South Bend Career Academy; Karson Jenkins, Fort Wayne Snider; Mason Jones, Valparaiso; Fletcher Loyer, Homestead; Hayden Maiben, Maconaquah; Reece Marrs, Hebron; Grant Ott-Large, LaPorte; Thomas Snyder, South Bend Adams.
District-1 Girls: Ashlynn Brooke, Pioneer; Jessi Calizo, Lakeland Christian; Asia Donald, Hobart; Ellia Foster, Bremen; Nevaeh Foster, Mishawaka Marian; Ella Haupert, Southwood; Bailey Kelham, Garrett; Lilly Maple, Maconaquah; Addyson Viers, Triton; Zoe Willems, Bethany Christian.
District-2 Boys: Flory Bidunga, Kokomo; Steele Brasfield, New Palestine; Luke Carroll, Hamilton Heights; Ryan Conwell, Pike; A.J. Dancler, Southport; C.J. Geheb, Rossville; Jonah Lucas, West Lafayette Harrison; Neil Marshall, Delta; Christian Nunn, Crispus Attucks; Ty Wills, Anderson.
District-2 Girls: Kenzie Fulks, Bethesda Christian; Laila Hull, Zionsville; Kenna Kirby, Tri-West; Sophia Morrison, Eastbrook; Olivia Nickerson, Twin Lakes; Camiell Perry, Speedway; Camryn Runner, Hamilton Heights; Renna Schwieterman, Jay County; Ashlynn Shade, Noblesville; Halle Shelt, Park Tudor.
District-3 Boys: Jack Benter, Brownstown Central; Matthew Bunnell, Evansville North; Josten Carter, New Albany; Blake Herdes, Evansville Central; Drew Howard, Forest Park; Randy Kelley, Sullivan; Branden Northern, Silver Creek; Ollie Sandman, Shelbyville; Trent Sisley, Heritage Hills; Jahni Summers, Evansville Harrison.
District-3 Girls: Jaidn Green, Evansville North; Koryn Greiwe, Columbus East; Kendall Hale, Cannelton; Kencia Levasseur, Washington; Reagan Martin, Owen Valley; Kaybree Oxley, Tecumseh; Bailey Tabeling, Trinity Lutheran; Macey Timberman, Northview; Ava Weber, Corydon Central; Linzie Wernert, Lanesville.