NEW CASTLE – A unique gift awaits the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team.
The Valley girls will be one of four teams competing in the Hall of Fame Classic held at New Castle’s historic Chrystler Gym adjacent to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Tippecanoe Valley enters the Hall of Fame Classic having another outstanding year. After winning 50 games the past two seasons, which included a state run in 2014 and regional run last year, Valley is off to a 10-2 start this season.
Valley will meet Class 3-A No. 1-ranked North Harrison (13-0), which features sophomore Lilly Hatton and junior Cali Nolot. Hatton is scoring over 21 points per game for the Cougars and Nolot is over 12 points per contest. Taylor Rennirt, another junior, is a do-it-all guard who is scoring near 10 points per game and fills up all of the stat categories, including three steals and four assists per game. North Harrison played in the Class 3-A championship game last March, losing to Heritage Christian which coincidentally beat Valley in the regional final.
Also in the HOF Classic are Greenfield-Central and Plainfield. Greenfield-Central, which went 23-5 a season ago, are loaded with talent but have been a little slow out of the gate against a monster of a schedule. Madison Wise is one of the top scorers in the state for G-C at over 27 points per game. Plainfield is off to a fast start, and feature a pair of stud seniors in Riley Blackwell and Kayla Casteel, who are combining for near 30 points per game.
Greenfield-Central and Plainfield are to meet in game one at 11 a.m., with Tippecanoe Valley and North Harrison to meet in game two around 12:30 p.m. The night consolation game is to start at 6 p.m. with the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic to follow at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Tippecanoe Valley is led by its decorated senior class, fronted by Anne Secrest and the supporting cast of Meredith Brouyette, Taneisha Brown and Hannah Dunn as well as junior Addy Miller and sophomores Emily Peterson and Sophie Bussard.
“For me, being a fan of Indiana basketball my whole life, I love the tradition of it,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Chris Kindig. “From being knee-high to a grasshopper, you learn about the history and the tradition, and being a part of something like the Hall of Fame Classic, those are some of the top programs in the state. For them to think enough of you to invite you to play, that says a lot about our program. But it does add a little pressure, because you want to go down there and perform well. Maybe justify being invited. It doesn’t matter who we play, because we’ll see two very good teams.”
A wrinkle to Valley’s inclusion in the HOF Classic is also the inclusion in the Lakeland Tourney the very next day, to which Valley will play from a grouping of Concord, Lakeland and West Noble, the latter two are potential sectional opponents. Valley has won the Lakeland Tourney the past two years.
“This is going to be a great experience for the girls,” Kindig said. “This will be something they remember for a long time.
“We’re treating the two tournaments, though, as separate entities,” continued Kindig in reference to the two tournaments on back-to-back days. “My philosophy since I’ve been here is ‘who’s up next?’ That’s who we are going to focus on. Obviously, we know we are going to play two games on Thursday and two on Friday. But we will worry about the Lakeland Tournament when we get to the Lakeland Tournament. Luckily for us, we know the three teams at Lakeland. We’ve played them all before, and two of them are in the sectional, which is an advantage because we’ve seen them a few times. But we have to take things one game at a time and worry about who is front of us.”