The highlight of the holiday season for high school basketball fans is the City Securities Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle, going into its 40th season for the boys and 33rd for the girls.
The girls will play Thursday at New Castle Fieldhouse and the boys Friday. The girls matchups are Greenfield-Central vs. Plainfield at 11 a.m., followed by North Harrison vs. Tippecanoe Valley. The consolation game is at 6 p.m., followed by the championship.
On Friday, the Logansport boys face Lawrence North at 11 a.m., followed immediately by New Albany vs. Warsaw. The consolation game is at 6 p.m., followed by the championship.
Tickets are $10 per session at the gate. The consolation and championship games will air live on WHMB Channel 40.
Here’s a closer look at each of the eight participating teams, first for the girls:
• Greenfield-Central: Iowa State recruit Madison Wise, a senior, is an IndyStar Miss Basketball candidate, averaging 24.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 blocked shots. But the Cougars have been hit by injuries and are just 8-7. Senior point guard Katie Helgason suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee in August but has returned to play the past five games. Junior Jessica Farrell suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game.
• Plainfield: The Quakers (12-3) are off to a good start but 6-1 senior and Northern Illinois recruit Riley Blackwell (15.6 ppg, 7.0 rebounds) suffered a knee injury last week and her status is in doubt for the tournament. Senior Kayla Casteel, an Evansville recruit, is averaging 14.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Junior point guard Samantha Olinger (9.0 ppg, 4.2 assists) is also a key player.
• North Harrison: The Lady Cats are 13-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class 3A after a runner-up finish last year. Sophomore center Lilly Hatton (21.3 ppg, 8.2 rebounds, 4.9 blocks) and junior guard Cali Nolot (12.8 ppg, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.2 steals) lead the way.
• Tippecanoe Valley: The Lady Vikings (10-2) are led by 6-foot senior and Youngstown State recruit Anne Secrist (15.6 ppg, 5.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists), junior guard Addy Miller (10.6 ppg) and senior guard Meredith Brouyette (10.3 ppg).
The boys teams:
• Logansport: The Berries (7-0) are ranked No. 3 in Class 4A, led by 6-4 senior Jalen Adaway (18.6 ppg, 6.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists) and 6-foot senior Matt Jennings (18.4 ppg, 4.4 assists). Senior Hunter DeHaven and sophomore Sam Skaggs are also averaging more than 10 points a game.
• Lawrence North: The Class 4A eighth-ranked Wildcats (6-1) are led by 6-9 senior Ra Kpedi, 6-7 junior Kevin Easley and 5-10 junior Antwaan Cushingberry, all averaging in double figures. Veteran coach Jack Keefer has taken three Lawrence North teams to the Hall of Fame Classic, winning it in 1979, 1989 and 2003.
• New Albany: The Class 4A fourth-ranked Bulldogs (5-2) are one of the favorites to defend their state title, led by 6-5 junior Romeo Langford (29.3 ppg, 6.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists) and senior guard Isaac Hibbard (12.4 ppg).
• Warsaw: The Tigers (6-2) are led by 6-2 senior and Indiana Wesleyan recruit Kyle Mangas (21.7 ppg, 5.6 rebounds). Mangas needs just 31 points to reach 1,000 for his career. Senior Jeremy David and junior Ross Johnson both average 5.7 points.
>> The prep school question: Fort Wayne North Side’s Keion Brooks is considered the state’s top prospect in the sophomore class. Considering the path several of the state’s top seniors took to prep school (Paul Scruggs, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justin Roberts), it’s reasonable to wonder if the 6-7 Brooks will end up on a similar track.
So, I asked him. Brooks said prep schools are asking about his interest. The answer, for now, is no.
“I hear about it all the time,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay focused. I’m at North Side right now so I can’t venture out and think about what prep schools can do for me. I’m trying to win a state championship at North Side.”
Brooks, who has offers from Butler, Kansas State, Purdue and Xavier and high interest from many others, said he’s taking it one year at a time. But …
“It’s very important for me to stay at home and play at home,” he said.
Brooks has a strong connection with North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq and his father, Keion Brooks Sr., is an assistant coach on the North Side staff. Brooks Sr. played at North Side and went to score more than 1,700 points at Wright State in the late 1990s.
So it wouldn’t be that easy to just pick up and move. But Brooks can also understand why players like Jackson, Roberts and Scruggs chose that route. Under the rules of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, teams are not allowed to play opponents (home or away) from more than 300 miles beyond the state line. Prep schools can play any opponent, any time.
“It gives you a lot of opportunities,” Brooks said. “You get to travel all over the country and play against the best competition every night.”
Will Brooks be at North Side two years from now?
“If I was to say right now, yes I would,” he said.
>> Note: Cathedral is seeking an experienced boys soccer coach. Contact athletic director Doug Seagrave at email@example.com.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.