Tomorrow’s stars


INDIANAPOLIS — Scouts showed up in droves. Dozens of them representing schools from across the nation patrolled the halls and courtsides of the Indy South Sports Complex this past weekend at the U.S. Junior National Midwest Summer Showcase.

They canvassed the complex and scoured the near 100 girls basketball teams in search of the right kind of players, those who could dominate their leagues for years to come.

One scout among the crowd knew exactly where to look for those types of players.

This scout was unique in that she didn’t represent a college — not yet anyway — but instead, a high school and a county.

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Her name is Maddie Wise, and during the weekend the Greenfield-Central superstar served as a would-be head scout of the Cougars basketball program. The incoming junior paid close attention as she watched the future stars of Hancock County girls hoops put their talents on display in Indianapolis.

Less than three hours after her Indy Magic travel team picked up a win Thursday morning, Wise was among a lively crowd tuned in to watch the Indiana Sky Diggs Elite 13 travel team.

This team in particular caught Wise’s attention, not only because of the talented players that fill out its roster but because of where those players intend to continue their careers.

Of the 10 members of the Sky Diggs Elite 13 team, four are headed to high schools within Hancock County lines.

First among them is Claire Cherry, who recently was an eighth-grader at Doe Creek Middle School and will soon play for Brian Kehrt at New Palestine.

According to her Sky Diggs coach, Mark McIntire, Cherry will be a crucial asset to the Dragons for the next four years.

“She has great size and she understands how to play the game,” McIntire said of the 6-foot-1 Cherry.

“She’s developed a nice mid-range jumper, and while she needs to get stronger, the sky is the limit for her and for the rest of these four.”

Second of the group is Haley Best, who attended Eastern Hancock Middle School and soon will join new Royals varsity coach Shari Doud at the high school.

At 5-foot-4, Best is the shortest player on her team but is perhaps its deadliest sharpshooter.

“She’s dynamite from distance,” McIntire said. “When she gets hot, the basket gets huge for her.”

The next two, Kate Real and Lydia McIntire (Mark’s daughter), are the primary reason Wise was in attendance.

While Wise is always game to get a look at future opponents, she admitted she was especially keen to see and cheer on Real and McIntire, each of whom will be freshmen at Greenfield-Central High School next season and possibly Wise’s teammates.

Both, she said, have the skills necessary to make an impact on the Cougars varsity team right away.

McIntire is a 5-foot-9 front-court player who, Wise said, could inject the Cougars roster with a much-needed post presence.

“She’s come a long way since knee surgery,” said Wise, whom McIntire said has become a mentor for his daughter. “She has recovered and played well. Nothing is set in stone, but we’re hoping she can help us.”

Real, meanwhile, looks to be the heir apparent to Greenfield-Central all-time assist leader Shelby Oldham in the Cougars backcourt.

While their games differ and those would be some big shoes to fill, Wise youngster is more than capable.

“Shelby was a big help to us last year,” Wise said, “but Kate has stepped up this summer. She’s been hitting a lot of outside shots … and that’s what we need. With Katie (Helgason) and I coming back, and we like to play the wings, if Kate could become the point guard, that would be ideal for our team.”

However, more important than their individual skills and potential fits, Wise said, is the fact that they were out there, on a weekend, using up what’s left of their summers to improve their games.

High school hoops are getting to the point now, said Wise who has playing travel ball since she was a youth, where if a girl wants to make an impact on her team, it is essential that she is putting in the time during the summer.

Look no further than the Sky Diggs Elite 13 team, McIntire said, which has become the training ground for future Hancock County stars.

McIntire, a travel ball coach for the past four years, said that is the inspiration for his Sky Diggs Elite team and for many other travel teams competing during the summer.

“All four of those girls are using this time to get better, to work on things,” McIntire said. “We put together this group to have some fun, but we also see this as a developmental program for them to get ready for high school ball.

“They’re going to be a very good freshman class. It will be fun to watch them compete against one another. … Hancock County is definitely going to have some good girls basketball for the next few years.”

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The Indiana Sky Diggs Elite 13 travel basketball team boasts a plethora of local talent. Forty percent of its roster is made up of girls who will continue their careers at high schools inside county lines. They are: 

Kate Real

Hometown: Greenfield

Sport: Basketball

Position: Guard

Height: 5 feet 6 inches

Middle School: Greenfield Central Junior High

High School: Greenfield-Central

Class: 2019

Haley Best

Hometown: Greenfield

Sport: Basketball

Position: Guard

Height: 5 feet 4 inches

Middle School: Eastern Hancock Middle School

High School: Greenfield-Central

Class: 2019

Claire Cherry

Hometown: New Palestine

Sport: Basketball

Position: Forward/center

Height: 6 feet 1 inch

Middle School: Doe Creek Middle School

High School: New Palestine

Class: 2019

Lydia Mcintire

Hometown: Greenfield

Sport: Basketball

Position: Forward

Height: 5 feet 9 inches

Middle School: Greenfield Central Junior High

High School: Greenfield-Central

Class: 2019