FORTVILLE — If there’s ever been any doubt, Sydney Shelton hasn’t heard it. Not that she’s particularly listening for it.
Born with an instinctive can-do philosophy, Shelton refuses to pay attention to anything outside the peripheral of her tunnel vision, one of the few times she allows can’t-do.
Such out-of-character action would contradict her motivation. It’s not about accolades for the 5-foot-9 standout guard. Winning is her priority, above all.
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Everything else is a result, the Mt. Vernon star emphasizes, and those results by themselves have been historic and quite possibly untouchable.
When the senior bested Johna Goff’s 1,369 points and Tim Miller’s 1,390 for the school’s true all-time career scoring record last season, she admits it was a pleasant surprise.
More reactive than proactive, Shelton doesn’t circle her calendar or get overzealous by projecting dates to rewrite history. Just as she approaches the game she loves or an NBA-distance 3-pointer, Shelton goes full throttle, especially while in pursuit of her primary goal.
As was the case last month in the Twin Lakes Tournament when eight points separated her from Hancock County’s girls basketball career scoring record formerly held by Greenfield-Central’s Ellen Hamilton (1,885).
Twenty-four points later, the torch was passed, minus the need for an internal counter. More importantly, Shelton said, the Class 4A Marauders won, 62-31, against the host Indians on Dec. 29.
“I don’t really look at that type of stuff often. Honestly, I don’t even know how many points I’m at now,” Shelton said with a laugh. “I just keep doing whatever I can do, and hopefully it’s enough.”
If effort was measured in numbers, Shelton’s would score a perfect 1,901, her exact career point total through nearly four complete seasons.
As a freshman and a Class 3A state champion, she finished with 502 points in 27 games. The next year, and in five fewer games, she added another 448 before leading the county in scoring with 541 last year.
At 410 through 17 games played in her final campaign, the Butler recruit stands on the verge of the unfathomable — 99 points from 2,000, the 35th girls player to reach the mark, according to the IHSAA.
Averaging 24.1 points per game and with five regular-season games remaining before the sectional, becoming the first girls basketball player in county history to ever reach such a milestone doesn’t seem unobtainable, but the journey has been an odyssey.
“Honestly, she’s been basically, at best, 75 percent out there since the Yorktown game (on Dec. 12),” Mt. Vernon head coach Steve Doud said. “She took a shot, and a Yorktown girl blocked her out 40 feet from the basket into her leg, and she came down wrong.
“She’s been gutting it out and making it through.”
Those unbeknownst to the situation wouldn’t be able to tell.
Despite suffering a muscle and knee sprain in her right leg, Shelton’s production has increased by approximately two points, half an assist and more than a rebound on average.
Questionable against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival New Palestine on Dec. 15 and North Central on Dec. 19, she relied on grit to score 26 and 23 points, respectively, as the Marauders lost both games.
“During that New Pal game, she had it in her mind that she couldn’t drive, so she was really limited on the floor, and our offense is geared for her to drive,” Doud said. “The catch is because of the success of the past and what she’s done up to this point, the X is on her chest.
“She’s the target, so when teams play us, they don’t play us straight up. They play us to try to stop her from scoring 25 points. And she’s still getting those 25 points.”
With fellow starters Ariana Sandefur, Megan Gawrys and Sadie Baugh all sidelined with injuries throughout the past two months, Shelton has put the team on her shoulders in pursuit of a potential sixth straight HHC title.
On nine occasions this season, she has scored 25 or more points and eclipsed 30 points twice with a season-high 36 against Warren Central on Nov. 7. Since getting hurt, Shelton has produced 20-plus points in four of the five games she’s played.
“She blows people’s minds everyday,” Baugh said. “I was just on Twitter and saw she was nominated for the McDonald’s All American Game, and she’s playing at around 80 percent. She wants to be Miss Basketball, so she won’t sit out unless it’s absolutely necessary. She amazes me. She’s our rock.”
Finally taking a breather this past weekend, Shelton sat out the Marauders’ road game against No. 14 Noblesville, which Mt. Vernon lost 67-34.
The rest came at an ideal time with several of Mt. Vernon’s starters nearing a return to help support Shelton, who came in behind schedule to start the 2015-16 season.
“We have to remember, too, she didn’t play all fall,” Doud said. “She got hurt in July during an AAU game. She did nothing as far as workouts until we first started practice, and even then, she did very limited things on the floor. So really, she’s had some adversity to overcome coming in and now this injury, and she’s still out there working.”
Competing nearly year-round, Shelton spent the past offseason as a core player on the Indiana Junior All-Star team, partaking in the 2015 Indiana Class Basketball All-Star Classic at Anderson University and helping her AAU team reach the championship at the Nike Nationals in North Augusta, South Carolina.
Prior to the national title game, Shelton hyper-extended the elbow in her non-shooting hand, which slowed her preseason conditioning.
From the first day of this season, she’s been playing on pure instinct and drive.
“I got cleared two days before the season, and I hadn’t played in three and a half months. I wasn’t in shape and because it was my arm, I wasn’t able to shoot a whole lot, and now with my leg, it’s setting me back, so it’s been frustrating,” Shelton said. “But I’m just trying to get it all balanced out, catch up, work with the team and at the same time ice, go to therapy and rest my leg as needed. It’s been a handful, but I’m fighting through for the final push.”
At 13-5, the Marauders have four HHC games down the stretch, beginning on Saturday at home against Shelbyville before a home-court rematch with non- conference Richmond on Tuesday. The Red Devils defeated Mt. Vernon in the sectional last season 69-63 with Shelton nearly willing her team to victory.
If the Marauders win out in the HHC and beat front-runners Greenfield-Central (Jan. 22) and New Castle (Jan. 26), they would at least share the title.
Even at less than 100 per- cent, Shelton would make a difference, not that she hasn’t already answered the question: how good is she?
“I’ve coached 15 years of boys basketball and in respect to girls basketball to boys, she’s the best player I’ve ever coached,” said Doud, whose mentored both the top-scoring boy and girl players in Mt. Vernon history. “I’ve never had a Division-I player, let alone an Indiana All-Star candidate. It’s been amazing to watch her.”
“With everything she’s gone through, she really hasn’t missed a beat. She’s still putting up the numbers.”
Indiana All-Stars from Hancock County
Girls (first year for Indiana girls All-Stars was 1976)
Erica Moore, Mt. Vernon 2014
Jessica Brown, Mt. Vernon, 2012
Johna Goff, Mt. Vernon, 2000
Sarah Haynes, New Palestine, 1994
Janet Meeker, Greenfield-Central, 1989
Beth Davis, Greenfield-Central, 1988
Barb Skinner, Mt. Vernon, 1979
Elizabeth Skinner, Mt. Vernon, 1978
The Best of the Best
Hancock County’s top all-time career scoring leaders
(boys and girls combined)
2,343 — Mike Edwards, Greenfield (1969)
2,064 — John Hamilton, Greenfield-Central (2000)
1,901 — Sydney Shelton, Mt. Vernon (2016)
1,885 — Ellen Hamilton, Greenfield-Central (2002)
1,617 — Beth Davis, Greenfield-Central (1988)
1,463 — Keegan Carmony, Greenfield-Central (2004)
1,447 — Dustin Smith, Eastern Hancock (2011)
1,415 — Derek Harmon, Eastern Hancock (2003)
1,390 — Tim Miller, Mt. Vernon (1998)
1,369 — Rhett Reed, Greenfield-Central (1998)
1,369 — Johna Goff, Mt. Vernon (2000)
1,276 — Jessica Brown, Mt. Vernon (2012)
1,228 — Barb Skinner, Mt. Vernon (1979)
1,217 — Liz Skinner, Mt. Vernon (1978)
Shelton Stat Sheet
502 – The total points scored by Shelton as a freshman starter for Mt. Vernon. The Marauders played 27 games, winning Class 3A state title.
950 – It only took Shelton two seasons to nearly reach 1,000 career points with 448 scored as sophomore through 22 games.
541 – Shelton averaged 22.5 points per game as a junior to post her highest single-season point total in 2014-15.
410 – Shelton has played 17 games this season and scored 410 points, posting 30-points for more twice and 25 or more nine times.
36 – Her single-game high of 36 points came against Warren Central on Nov. 7, 2015 as Shelton shot 10 of 21 from the field.
8 – The points Shelton needed on Dec. 29, 2015 against Twin Lakes to tie Greenfield-Central’s Ellen Hamilton for the county’s all-time career scoring record (1,885).
24 – The points Shelton scored on Dec. 29., 2015 to reach 1,901 in her career and become the county’s all-time leader in girls basketball.
99 – Shelton is averaging 24.1 points per game this season and is 99 points shy of becoming the first female basketball player in county history to reach 2,000 points in a career.
163 – While Greenfield’s Mike Edwards (1969) career total of 2,343 is out of reach, Shelton is 163 points away from tying Greenfield-Central’s John Hamilton (2000 graduate) with 2,064.