GREENFIELD — Every time Madison Wise steps on a basketball court, she has two goals. They’re the same she’s had since the Greenfield-Central junior fired her first jumper in the family living room as a 3-year-old with her older siblings and father.
If she ever forgets them, Gordan Wise, her paternal grandfather is quick to remind her.
“His big thing for me is telling me to play hard and have fun,” Madison Wise said. “He always tells me that.”
As a proud “granddad,” it’s rare not to see him in the stands at nearly every game, Wise said. Sometimes like her jumper, he misses a few, but the percentages are usually high he’s around despite an hour and 45 minute drive.
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A resident of Piqua in western Ohio where her parents, Kent and Lynn, first met long before moving across state lines and settling down in Hancock County, Gordon doesn’t want to miss a minute of the 6-foot-1 forward’s budding career.
Though a retired professor at Wright State, he’s spent almost 50 years as the public address announcer for the men’s basketball team.
When scheduling conflicts come up, his choice is obvious.
“He’ll miss theirs to come to ours,” she laughed. “My granddad has played a pretty big role in my life.”
The same goes for her entire family, a word she uses to describe several influences that stretch beyond blood relatives.
There’s her AAU coach Justin Blanding with Indy Magic, Greenfield-Central head coach Doug Laker, her teammate and best friend Katie Helgason, her brothers Darren, 23, and Cameron, 13, and her sister Kristen, 21.
They all deserve credit for how her success has unfolded these past three years, the honor student and class president deflects.
However, much like Wise, they are quick to bounce pass any praise right back to her.
“She’s the one that works so hard at it. She loves being good, but she wants to be great,” Laker said. “It’s an everyday grind for her. She works at it continuously.
“But the best thing about her is she’s a very humble. I’ve been around her since the third grade and she’s been that way from the beginning.”
Once the ball goes up, however, she pounces, Laker said.
Her competitive drive is what Division-I college recruiters from the Big Ten, SEC, Big East, Mid-American and Horizon League dangling scholarship offers love about the four-starred prospect’s game.It’s what played a crucial role in the Cougars’ historic season, which led to the program’s first sectional title in 12 years.
“She’s once in a lifetime,” Laker said.
As voted upon by area coaches and the Daily Reporter sports staff, she’s also the headliner of the 2015-16 All-County Girls Basketball Team and the unanimous Player of the Year.
As a magnet for accolades, Wise entered her junior year ranked in the nation’s top-60 by ESPN for the Class of 2017, an accomplishment linked directly to her passion for the sport.
Soaking it up
The daughter of a former veteran basketball coach, Wise is a student at all times, forever looking to increase her hoops IQ.“My dad taught me a lot of what I know,” said Wise, the tallest in her immediate family by more than four inches. “We always had a Little Tikes basketball goal in the living room. We would shoot around and we also had a goal outside my house. It was just growing up in a basketball family in a basketball state.”
Born in Terre Haute, Wise spent a year in Piqua as an infant after the family went back to Ohio but has lived in Greenfield since she was 2.
Her father, an educator in Rush County Schools, coached basketball over the span of 16 years at Newton High School in Ohio, Union Junior and High School in Modoc, Centerville High School, South Vermillion High School and in Piqua.
When he wasn’t mentoring other people’s kids, Kent Wise shared his roundball insight with his own, exposing all of his children to basketball’s storied past and present.
Madison absorbed it all, advancing up through the boys and girls club with her older brother and sister, playing travel ball and honing her skill set in the summers with her AAU teams.
Friends from the start
Along the way, she met her kindred spirit, Helgason, the starting point guard for Greenfield-Central, who has shared the same court in-season and off with Wise since the third grade.“She actually lives right across the street from me, so we hang out all the time. When people look for us, we’re usually together. We both play for the Indy Magic, too,” Wise said. “It’s been awesome to be teammates and have that best friend chemistry. It helps a lot.”
The tandem, which led the team in scoring 1-2 this season, even wears sequential numbers with Helgason owning No. 2 and Wise sporting No. 3.
Fittingly, the duo were both honored as All-Hoosier Heritage Conference selections and as Indiana Junior All-Stars with Wise named to the core group as one of the state’s top six juniors.
“That was the goal ever since I was little,” Wise remarked on her all-star honor. “My dad and I used to go to the (all-star) games, and I looked up to a lot of those girls, so it’s pretty exciting to be part of the team.”
Her spot on the roster was inevitable.
Through 28 games this season, Wise averaged 22.7 points per game, 10.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.5 steals and 3.0 blocks.She has 1,450 points in her career, ranking her third on the program’s all-time list and fourth in the county. Her 809 rebounds is unmatched in girls basketball school history.
As a sophomore, she shattered Beth Davis’ single-season rebound record (243) set in 1986-87 by hauling in 293.
When her junior season concluded one-point shy of a regional crown against Class 4A No. 5 Roncalli, 46-45, she established a new single-season scoring record with 636 points.
Her proudest feat, however, revolved around the team, especially this postseason.
“The first two years, we were out the first round of sectional, so advancing in the tournament was key this year,” Wise said. “Playing a tougher schedule definitely helped us.”
The Cougars faced the likes of North Central, Hamilton Southeastern, Pike, Marquette Catholic, Plainfield, New Castle and Westfield during the regular season.
Once the state tournament started, Wise and her team won four straight — with each being a rematch from previous victories.
In the Cougars’ five postseason games, Wise never shot below 50 percent from the field, and she matched a season-high with 35 points in the sectional title game against probable Indiana All-Star Sydney Shelton and Mt. Vernon, which had beaten Greenfield-Central in consecutive years.
In the first round at the Decatur Central Regional, she recorded her 18th double-double of the year as the 10th-ranked Cougars defeated No. 9 Plainfield 64-50.
“Around tournament time, she kicked it into another gear,” said Laker whose team won a school record 23 games while only losing five. “In between the lines, you have to be a warrior. I think she proved that this year. That’s what competition is and that’s what leaders do.”
Best part, Laker added, is she still has one more season left to run the floor with Helgason, sort through her recruiting process which opened with an offer from Indiana University as an eighth-grader and shoot for the top prize.
“My biggest goal is to win state. Individually, my goal ever since I was little is to wear the No. 1 jersey and be Miss Basketball,” Wise said. “I know it’s going to be tough, but I actually gave up track this spring to focus on basketball, so I’m hoping that helps me there. I’m looking to focus 100 percent on basketball.”
And have fun while doing it.
Word on the Wise
167: Third on the Cougars’ all-time career scoring list, Wise needs 167 more points to tie Beth Davis (1,617) for second overall. Ellen Hamilton still owns the record at 1,885.
1: With 290 rebounds recorded this season, Wise catapulted from fourth to first on the Cougars’ all-time career rebounding list. She has 809 rebounds in three seasons.
6: Wise is eighth overall on the school’s all-time career assist leaderboard with 227, including 117 this season. She only needs six more to move up a spot, tying Beth Davis (233).
636: Beth Davis set the record for points scored in a single season at 547 in 1986-87, and Wise shattered it with a career-best 636 to overtake the school record.
50: Though she hauled in 290 rebounds this season, as a junior Wise set the new single-season record with 293, which bested Beth Davis’ 243 set in 1986-87.
4: Increasing her point totals every year, Wise jumped from 19.0 points per game to nearly 23 this season, marking a four-point upswing. She averaged 17.0 ppg as a freshman.
3: Named to the 2016 Indiana Junior All-Star core group, Wise will attempt to become just the third player in program history to earn an Indiana All-Star nod as a senior. Janet Meeker (1989) and Beth Davis (1988) were the only previous honorees.
535: On pace to break the school’s all-time career scoring list, Wise is in position to potentially challenge Mt. Vernon’s Sydney Shelton’s county record mark of 1,985, needing 535 points to tie the 2016 graduate.