IndyStar is recognizing the Indiana high school athletes of the week presented by Defenders. Top Hoosier athletes are nominated by their athletic directors and coaches. For more information about our Indiana Sports Awards, contact Matthew VanTryon at firstname.lastname@example.org or Matthew Glenesk at email@example.com. These athletes were chosen for the week ending Dec. 24.
Destiny Perkins, Lawrence North
To see how important Destiny Perkins is to Lawrence North, just look at what happened in a brief span when she wasn’t on the court.
In a game against Ben Davis early in December, Perkins landed awkwardly on her right ankle after shooting a jumper late in the third quarter. She left the game with a sprain. The Wildcats led by nine heading into the third. They lost by two.
“We were like a fish out of water there for a little while after she went down,” Wildcats coach Chris Giffin said. “You saw what happened. They definitely look for her and they should.”
Lawrence North had plenty of talent last year, including Lauren Dickerson (now at Miami of Ohio) and Ae’Rianna Harris (now at Purdue). Perkins, who transferred to Lawrence North from Richmond after her sophomore year, played the role of supporter.
This year, she’s the go-to player on the ninth-best team in Class 4A. She’s risen to the occasion, averaging 16.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.7 steals per game. But her success this season wouldn’t be possible without last year – or the two years before that at Richmond.
“My role was to lead, and in pressure situations always to be ready to play,” Perkins said of her time with the Red Devils. “I learned to lead at Richmond and how to handle pressure at Richmond.”
Last year, as she became a smaller piece in a bigger puzzle of a team that won 20 games and lost in the regional semifinal, her mindset changed. But she kept learning.
“In the beginning it was tough mentally to play a different role, but I knew (this) year would be different, and I loved playing with the girls here last year, she said. “I learned to be more vocal and to compete every day.”
The Wildcats are on pace for their fifth 20-win season in as many seasons since Giffin took over the program.
“The numbers don’t really tell the whole story,” Giffin said. “We’ve had five Indiana All-Stars in my first four years. She’s been as impactful to this year’s team as any other those players. We’ve seen that when we didn’t have her.”
Perkins will play collegiately at Akron, which has won at least 19 games in each of the last four seasons. While she had other choices, she felt at home with the Zips.
“I feel like I can go in there and make a difference instantly,” she said. “I feel like the class coming in with me is going to be really good. I like the style of play. I like the coach. I’m excited.”
But she has more pressing things on her mind. Despite reaching semistate twice in the past three years, the Wildcats have never reached the state title game.
“My mentality is to win, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to win as a team,” Perkins said. “Everybody’s goal is to win it. That’s my goal. All the other stuff will come if it’s meant.”
Kevin Easley, Lawrence North
Easley scored 32 points in the Wildcats’ 67-64 overtime win over Detroit Jesuit in the Manual Extravaganza last week. Detroit Jesuit was ranked 21st nationally by USA Today.
Ameer Lawrence, Bishop Noll
Lawrence had a two-game series of 522 and the second-high game of 265 last week. His conference average is 249 and he has four 2-game series of 500 or more on the season. He has two 300 games as well.
Emily Payne, Lake Central
Payne had the high game (247) and two-game series (471) in the state last week. Her conference average is 191.
Jacob Destrampe, Franklin
Destrampe had a strong showing in the Johnson County Championships, placing first in two individual events and was part of two winning relay teams. He placed first in the 200 free (1 minute, 42.34 seconds), the 500 free (4:39.34) and was part of the winning 200 medley relay and 400 free relay. He has 14 first-place finishes on the season.
AJ Black, Shenandoah
Black went 4-0 at the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Associtation Team State Duals meet last week at the Fort Wayne Coliseum, helping his team to a second-place finish in the small-school division, He is 22-0 on the season and is ranked second in the state in the 106-lbs. weight class.