Six days off their runner-up finish in the Greenfield-Central Holiday Tournament, head coach Doug Laker’s Cougars face yet another test with two games in one day during the 2016 Hall of Fame Classic.
Greenfield-Central opens the 33rd annual event against Plainfield today at 11 a.m. inside New Castle Fieldhouse. The consolation round is set for 6:05 p.m. and the championship at 7:50 p.m.
The Class 4A Cougars played three games in two days during their own holiday tournament, defeating potential Sectional 9 foe Richmond (69-37) and Gary West (62-55) led by Louisville recruit and Indiana Miss Basketball candidate Dana Evans. They lost to East Chicago Central in the finals 46-42.
So far the Cougars’ schedule has pitted them against four top-10 teams in 4A, including No. 1 Homestead, No. 1 North Central, No. 5 Hamilton Southeastern and No. 6 Pike. All four programs are also ranked in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association’s Top 20.
No. 16 Plainfield (12-3) makes it five.
The 4A Quakers are coached by Curt Benge, who is 337-156 in 22 seasons. He is the 13th winningest active coach in Indiana girls basketball and the brother of Stan Benge, who led Ben Davis to two state titles and a national championship in 2008.
Plainfield won five straight to open the season and put together a seven-game win streak before losing back-to-back against 4A Martinsville (51-49) and No. 5 Hamilton Southeastern (58-49).
The Quakers could be without Division I recruit 6-1, senior Riley Blackwell (Northern Illinois) for the tournament after suffering a knee injury on Dec. 22. Blackwell, an Indiana Junior All-Star core player, was averaging 15.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
Three-star Evansville recruit Kayla Casteel, an Indiana Junior All-Star, will be active and brings a 14.9 point and 4.4 rebound per game average.
Greenfield-Central (8-7) put together a four-game win streak behind strong play from 6-foot-1 senior wing Madison Wise before losing to a revamped East Chicago Central squad Friday night.
The five-star Iowa State recruit is averaging 22.5 points per game and 9.7 rebounds along with 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals.
With 1,788 career points, Wise, an Indiana Junior All-Star core player, is on pace to become the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,885). She scored 30 points during the Cougars’ 62-55 tournament semifinal win against Gary West Side on Friday and already owns the program’s record for career rebounds (955).
Wise, an Indiana Miss Basketball candidate, has played numerous roles for the Cougars this season, especially with the loss of junior Jessica Farrell to a knee injury and the absence of senior point guard Katie Helgason, who returned from a torn ACL on Dec. 13.
Helgason, a Ball State recruit, has since played in five games for Greenfield-Central after more than three months away while rehabbing her knee. The Indiana Junior All-Star is averaging 8.8 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
The Rest of the Competition
The road doesn’t get any easier on the other side of the bracket, where unbeaten No. 9 North Harrison (13-0) takes on Tippecanoe Valley (10-2) in the first round at 12:45 p.m.
North Harrison is ranked No. 1 in 3A and has won 41 of its last 44 games. The Lady Cats were 3A state runners-up last year and of their three losses, all have been by a combined 10 points.
Head coach Missy Voyles is 218-101 in her 14th season and was an Indiana All-Stars assistant coach in 2016.
Sophomore Lilly Hatton, a 6-1 center, leads the Cats with 21.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.9 blocks per game. Junior Cali Nolot, a 5-8 guard, follows with 12.8 points, 3.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 steals per contest.
Tippecanoe Valley is ranked seventh in 3A and has won five straight under head coach Chris Kindig, who is 100-48 in seven seasons at the school.
The Vikings were 3A state runners-up in 2014-15 and 25-2 last year. The team is led by Youngstown State recruit Anne Secrist, a 6-0 senior center, who is averaging 15.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.0 steals a game.
Junior Addy Miller, a 5-7 guard, is scoring 10.6 points a night while 5-8 senior guard Meredith Brouyette is averaging 10.3 points.
The Fun Facts
Here are a few tidbits surrounding the 2016 Hall of Fame Classic.
- While this is the 33rd rendition of the Hall of Fame Classic, it is the 27th time the event has been held at the New Castle Fieldhouse.
- The girls’ tournament has included 18 teams that went on to win a state championship that season, including 2013 state champion Bedford North Lawrence and 2014 state winner Heritage Christian.
- A total of 23 players have gone on to win Indiana’s Miss Basketball after participating in the Classic, including each of the last eight winners.
- Ten girls who have played in the Classic were named McDonald’s All Americans and eight have played in the WNBA.
- Greenfield-Central is making its third appearance in the girls Classic, marking the ninth program in history to play the event three or more times.
- In 1986, the Cougars hosted the event and were runners-up. In 2007, they were third at New Castle. This is the first year Doug Laker will lead the Cougars in the event. He has a 120-73 record in nine seasons.
- Plainfield is playing in the Classic for a third time after taking third in 1996 and appearing in 2009.
- North Harrison and Tippecanoe Valley are both making their first Classic appearances.
- Plainfield’s Curt Benge is coaching his third team in the girls Classic, making him the fourth coach to achieve the feat (joining Cinda Brown and Alan Maroska).
- Rushville owns the Classic girls’ record with five appearances.
- This year’s winner will become the 30th different school to claim the Classic championship. Only three teams have been repeat winners (Ben Davis, Warsaw, Bedford North Lawrence).
2016 Hall of Fame Classic
at New Castle Fieldhouse
Game 1: Greenfield-Central vs. Plainfield, 11 a.m.
Game 2: North Harrison vs. Tippecanoe Valley, 12:45 p.m.
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 6:05 p.m.
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7:50 p.m.
What: 2016 Hall of Fame Classic
Where: New Castle Fieldhouse (801 Parkview Dr, New Castle)
When: Today, beginning at 11 a.m.
Who: Greenfield-Central, Plainfield, North Harrison, Tippecanoe Valley
Cost: Tickets are $10 per session
Broadcast: The Classic’s first round will be aired tape-delayed on WHMB TV-40 at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Consolation and championship games will be aired live.