Madison Wise, Greenfield-Central senior forward
No surprise here. A legitimate contender for the prestigious Indiana Miss Basketball award at season’s end, the 6-foot-1 Wise averaged 22.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 blocks per game as a junior and led the Cougars to a sectional championship. In the title match against rival Mt. Vernon, the versatile Wise poured in 35 points (10 of 16 shooting) in one of her top performances of the season. The Cougars eventually lost to Roncalli in the regional championship with Wise scoring a team-high 21 points. Long and athletic with a highly accurate jumpshot — even outside the 3-point line —Wise punishes defenders from nearly every spot on the court. She was aggressive, too, leading Hancock County in free-throw attempts (224), which she made at a 65 percent rate. Wise currently has an extended list of offers including Ball State, Michigan State, Iowa State and Kentucky — to name a few. According to ESPN recruiting, Wise is ranked 10th at her position in her class and 45th overall for 2017. She currently has 1,450 points and is on pace to become the county’s all-time leading scorer. Mt. Vernon’s Sydney Shelton (2016 graduate) is first with 1,985 career points.
Raegan McMurray, New Palestine senior guard
Savy, crafty and a willing passer, McMurray enters her senior season as the go-to player in Brian Kehrt’s fourth season at New Palestine. A Jason Kidd-type point guard, the 5-foot-10 McMurray has the ability to beat her defender from deep, off the dribble or on the block — whatever the defense gives her. She had familiar help last season with a deep senior class but will be relied upon to lead a talented sophomore group this year. As a junior, McMurray scored 12.8 ppg and dished out 2.4 apg. How will she handle being, without a doubt, the No. 1 player on opposing scouting reports? Last season, McMurray scored a season-high 23 points in a win against Yorktown and dished out seven assists against Lawrence Central. A highly intelligent player, Kehrt said she believes she will be one of the top players in central Indiana this season.
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Sophie Williams, Mt. Vernon junior forward
Aside from Greenfield-Central’s Madison Wise, Williams was the county’s top threat on the boards (7.0 rpg) and averaged 5.8 ppg last season. Few players make the most out of their minutes like the quick-footed Williams, who also excels on the tennis court. With a fearless attitude and quick bounce, the junior forward grabbed 3.9 offensive rebounds per game last year. Also efficient, the 5-foot-11 Williams shot 50 percent from the field and 73 percent from the free-throw line. With the graduation of Sydney Shelton and Ariana Sandefur, her touches on the offensive end should increase. She won’t be the focal point of the offense but Williams knows her role and makes the most of her opportunities. Last season, she collected a season-high 13 points against Connersville and had 17 — yes 17 — rebounds against Western.
Emiley Carlton, Eastern Hancock senior forward
The 5-foot-10 Carlton is a high-motor player with plenty of length and athleticism. Crafty around the basket and quick off the dribble for her size, the senior forward averaged 9.8 ppg last season — fifth best in Hancock County. She also averaged a team-high 4.8 rpg. As a sophomore, Carlton scored 13.2 ppg and grabbed 5.8 rebounds per game. She played in 21 games as a freshman, chipping in 5.5 ppg for a team that finished 17-5. Last season, Carlton scored a season-high 20 points against Hauser and netted 10 or more points in 14 games. Also a willing defender, Carlton can create problems with her speed in passing lanes. She also made seven threes a season ago and should fit in Andy Meneely’s motion offense well. Meenely is in his first season as head coach of the Royals and is the third head man in Carlton’s four years of high school.
Jessica Farrell, Greenfield-Central junior forward
Farrell is a bruiser and perfect complement to fellow front-court partner Madison Wise. She was third in the county in rebounding last season at 6.0 per game and averaged 4.1 ppg while shooting 56 percent from the field. Undersized for her position, Farrell makes up for it with heart. She averaged 3.0 offensive rebounds per game as a sophomore and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Nothing can be more devastating to a defense than an offensive rebound and put back, which Farrell did plenty of last season. She scored a season-high 10 points in the regional win against Plainfield and grabbed 10 rebounds, also a season-best.
Keep another eye on: Katie Helgason, Greenfield-Central senior guard. Depsite an ACL injury suffered at the beginning of soccer season, Helgason could still be a player to watch this season. A Ball State University commit, Helgason averaged 11.0 ppg and 4.4 apg last season and is, without question, one of the best athletes in the county — boy or girl.
Five games to watch
No. 8 Greenfield-Central at No. 6 North Central, Nov. 12
The third game of the season for each team, this top-10 battle will provide an early test for Greenfield-Central, which boasts one of the toughest schedules in the state. How will the Cougars handle a state-ranked foe without starting guard Katie Helgason?
No. 8 Greenfield-Central at No. 1 Homestead, Dec. 10
Clash of the titans here. Homestead was 26-3 last season and lost in the semistate to Penn, 50-45. The Spartans lost five players to graduation last season. These teams met two years ago with Homestead winning 73-42.
Eastern Hancock at Knightstown, Dec. 16
No matter the season or sport, this rivalry always draws a large, rowdy crowd. Located just miles apart, Eastern Hancock and Knightstown will always be one of the top games in Hancock County. Last season, the Royals won 74-44 at home in front of a packed house.
Eastern Hancock at New Palestine, Jan. 19
This was a competitive game last season and should be again this year. New Palestine won 48-41 but lost a larger chunk of its roster. Eastern Hancock returns its top-three leading scorers but will have to top its in-county rival on the road. The Royals could start four to five seniors, while the Dragons will likely start three sophomores.
No. 8 Greenfield-Central at Mt. Vernon, Jan. 20
A rematch of last year’s sectional championship. Mt. Vernon won the two meetings during the 2015 season and Greenfield-Central countered with two wins last season, including the sectional title win to end the Marauders’ season. The Cougars will look similar, personnel wise, while Mt. Vernon returns players who gained experience with the unusual amount of injuries suffered to key players last season.