Indiana All-Star Brooke is once again RTC Player of Year
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
A knee injury that prevented Pioneer point guard Ashlynn Brooke from playing for the Junior All-Stars last year did not prevent her from earning a spot on the Senior All-Stars this year.
And it did not prevent her from being named the RTC Player of the Year for girls basketball for the second consecutive year.
After school all-time leading scorer Hailey Cripe graduated, Brooke had more responsibilities this year than in her previous three years on the varsity, and her ability to fulfill those responsibilities make her our choice.
Brooke was only one reason why this was a memorable girls basketball season in the area.
Caston overcame Pioneer twice and won the Hoosier North title outright with a 7-0 record before their shocking overtime loss to North White in the Class 1A, Sectional 52 semifinals. It was quite likely the greatest team Caston has had in the last 35 years.
A deep, talented Tippecanoe Valley team surpassed very high expectations to win conference, sectional and regional titles.
A gritty Argos team won their second straight sectional title, which included a triple-overtime win over Culver and an overtime win over Triton in a three-day span.
The gap is narrowing between the best and worst teams in girls basketball. There seem to be more girls playing travel ball or some out-of-season basketball than ever before, and one has to wonder if the IHSAA allowing more offseason workouts has led to a higher standard of play.
For certain, we had more compelling games than ever before.
With that, we present our annual list of the top area players. This list is based on observation of dozens of games throughout the area. We thank area coaches for their thoughts and opinions, but ultimately, this list is ours and ours alone, and we take full responsibility.
Ashlynn Brooke (Pioneer)-- Brooke scored in double figures in every game. She scored 20 or more points 18 times and 30 or more five times. She led the team in assists and steals and was second in rebounds.
Kaydence Mellott (Tippecanoe Valley) – As good as Valley was, they did not have a consistent second scoring option, so Mellott had all of the opponents’ defensive energy thrown at her. Nonplussed, she just shook it off and shot a ridiculous 50 percent from 3. She also attempted 189 free throws and made them at an 82 percent rate. When Valley led late in games, they just put the ball in her hands and salted games away qwith her at the line.
Isabel Scales (Caston) – Scales is already among the greatest girls basketball players in Caston history. She just finished her junior season, and she already has more than 1,000 career points. Scales is a match-up nightmare: Put a smaller player on her, and she will take them to the post. Put a big on her, and she will shoot over them.
Emma Dunlap (Argos) – Dunlap’s late-game clutch skills were most pronounced when she hit four big free throws to knock Triton out in overtime of the sectional final, but she made clutch buckets all year. She could make the 3 ball but also score off dribble penetration.
Samantha Redinger (Argos) – Redinger barely played at all the first half of the season due to a broken wrist, but she was an elite scorer after she returned, and she also guarded the opponent’s top perimeter scorer.
Kaydence Mellott Isabel Scales Emma Dunlap Samantha Redinger
Kennedy Jackson (Culver) – Jackson switched schools from Rochester to Culver and changed roles, becoming more of a post presence who could then step out on the perimeter. She had such a unique skill set.
Emma Howdeshell (Rochester) – Howdeshell also had to adjust after a coaching change, taking on more of a wing role but also finding herself with the ball in her hands a lot at the end of games. Her quick hands were a factor on defense as well.
Rose Peterson (Culver) – Peterson has a quick first step and could blow by defenders off the dribble, but she also had deep 3-point shooting range as well. She was also Culver’s top perimeter defender.
Addison Zimpleman (Caston) – Zimpleman became more of a playmaker this year, and that allowed Scales to spend more time in the post. She is an underrated passer and a menacing defender.
Bailey Harness (Caston) – Harness developed her perimeter shot as a senior, and combined with her rebounding, she was a unique threat. Caston’s players’ skills were so interconnected that teams had constant matching up with them.
Kennedy Jackson Emma Howdeshell Rose Peterson Addison Zippleman Baily Harness
Kylie Attinger (Pioneer)
Baleigh Binkley (Argos)
Rily Holloway (Rochester)
Lily Ault (Tippecanoe Valley)
Paula Collado Fernandez (Pioneer)
Bella Stults (Argos)
Molly Moriarty (Tippecanoe Valley)
Corinna Stiles (Tippecanoe Valley)
Grace Sieber (Culver)
Kinzie Mollenkopf (Caston)
Ellie Bollenbacher (Argos)
Chesnee Miller (Tippecanoe Valley)
Macy Petersen (Tippecanoe Valley)
Makenna Strycker (Pioneer)
Rylee Clevenger (Rochester)