The graduation of an extremely successful 2017 class took with it some superior basketball talent from the Ink Free News coverage area. The 2017-18 season has seen a lot more team play take fold rather than individuals dominate the headlines. In choosing our All-Area girls basketball teams, a lot of conversations were had in how the players affected their teams, and how valuable those players became within their systems.
Our choice for the IFN All-Area Player of the Year, Tippecanoe Valley junior Sophie Bussard, is the epitome of the team concept, but also having the chance to spread her wings and showcase the talents that helped Valley to another impressive regular season. Within the next nine selections are a lot of team-first cogs that make their respective teams better, but stand out for their individual play, as well.
IFN First Team
Sophie Bussard, Tippecanoe Valley – Bussard has blossomed as the leader of another outstanding Valley team this season. The versatile 5-8 guard, who was part of our Second Team a year ago, led her squad in scoring (16.8), rebounding (6.0), assists (3.0) and steals (3.0) in a 20-4 season. Bussard becomes the third winner of POY honors from Valley, joining two-time recipient Anne Secrest, in the four years of the award.
Savannah Feenstra, NorthWood – Feenstra has flourished in her final prep season as the lone senior for the Panthers. The 6-1 forward led her team in scoring (10.8) and rebounding (7.2) through 24 games. The Bethel College recruit has been a tough matchup for opponents with her ability to shoot the ball from distance. Feenstra, who was named to our Second Team last year, had 21 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Oregon-Davis, 17 points and 12 caroms in an NLC win over Plymouth and scored the game’s final four points, including a putback at the final buzzer, to beat Portage 52-51. A four-year performer for the Panthers, she ranks in the Top 10 all-time in the tradition-rich NorthWood program in rebounds with over 600 and in the Top 20 in scoring with 808 points. Feenstra played in 101 varsity games for the Black Swish.
Addy Miller, Tippecanoe Valley – Miller has also thrived in a much larger role for the Vikings this time around. The 5-6 senior guard averaged 14 points, three rebounds and almost two steals per game through the regular season. She had a huge day in leading Valley to two wins to claim the Concord Invitational championship, scoring 21 points in the title game after netting 20 in a semifinal win. Miller, who was chosen to our Second Team a year ago, also had 17 points in a win over Wawasee in the final week of the regular season, 15 in a victory at NorthWood and 14 in a win over Triton.
Maddie Ryman, Warsaw – Ryman has been a big part of a fine season for the new-look Tigers. The 5-6 guard led her balanced team in scoring (9.8) and 3-pointers and shot 77 percent from the free throw line during a 14-8 regular-season run under first-year coach Lenny Krebs. Ryman had 16 points in a semifinal win over Mishawaka in the Lady Tiger Tourney en route to being named to the All-Tourney Team. She had 14 points and six rebounds in a conference win over Elkhart Memorial and had 14 points and six assists in a three-overtime league victory at Plymouth.
Casey Schroeder, Wawasee – Schroeder was the top scorer on a balanced Wawasee offense. The 5-7 junior guard averaged almost 12 ppg. to go with two steals and two rebounds per outing. Schroeder drained 16 points in a win over South Bend Adams, tallied 14 points and seven steals in a win over Whitko and produced 12 points and four steals in an NLC victory over Plymouth. She helped lead the Warriors to a 13-11 mark which included a stunning upset of Tippecanoe Valley in the sectional semis, the first winning season for Wawasee in eight years.
IFN Second Team
Kacy Bragg, Warsaw – Willing to do just about anything to help her team, Kacy Bragg has been a jack-of-all-trades player for the Lady Tigers. Bragg, coming into the season off a fantastic volleyball campaign, started all 22 regular season games for Warsaw and led the team in field goal percentage (54 percent) and offensive rebounds (48) and has 109 rebounds overall heading into the sectional. Bragg’s nine points and five rebounds a night look somewhat pedestrian, but the junior is often matched up against the other team’s center, and at 5-8, Bragg is asked of a lot within the Warsaw system that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.
Hope Fancil, Lakeland Christian Academy – Part of our First Team a year ago, Fancil hasn’t regressed, per se, but has gotten quite a bit more help. The senior is still doing it all, averaging 15 points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks per night. Among her season log are four 20-plus point nights, five night of at least five steals, and a standout 27 point, 11 rebound collection against Hamilton. Fancil and company won seven of its last eight games, and achieved 16 wins, the most in program history.
Maddy Payne, NorthWood – A year ago, Maddy Payne was barely on anyone’s radar, which helped NorthWood catch some teams sleeping on the back half of its schedule. Now Payne, a sophomore, was part of a three-headed monster on the Panther frontline with Savannah Feenstra and Kate Rulli. Payne has come up big in games, including a 19-point, 14 rebound performance (12 offensive) against Jimtown, 20 and 11 in a close loss to state-ranked Marian, and 13 points, nine boards and four steals in a two-point NLC win against Goshen. The post averaged 10 points and six rebounds a night for the Lady Panthers.
Emily Peterson, Tippecanoe Valley – Emily Peterson’s size and shooting ability have created matchup problems for opponents all season. The rangy 5-8 guard likes to shoot the three, and connected three times in each win against Wabash, Manchester and NorthWood, and four times against Whitko, another win. Peterson also had six assists apiece in big wins over Culver Academy and Maconaquah, and scored a season-high 16 points in a one-point loss to eventual TRC champ Northfield. Peterson, a regular starter for the first time in her high school career, finished the regular season scoring 9.3 points per game, tossing in a pair of assists and rebounds for good measure. Her season, unfortunately, was cut short in the first round of the sectional with a knee injury.
Hannah Wanemacher, Triton – Without Hannah Wanemacher, Triton would be in trouble. The reigning Hoosier North Athletic Conference Player of the Year scored a third of Triton’s points in the regular season (259), posting 12.3 ppg. Her ability to hit the three-pointer, dropping 40 of them, was big for a Trojan team that made just 59 of them in total. Wanemacher scored 31 combined points to help Triton to a pair of wins at its home tourney in November, and finishes in the top 10 in Triton scoring history, scoring over 800 points in her career.
IFN Honorable Mention
Kenzie Bergman, NorthWood; Emma Bohnenkamper, Warsaw; Aubrey Kuhn, Wawasee; Hannah-Marie Lamle, Wawasee; Whytnie Miller, Triton; Asia O’Connor, Tippecanoe Valley; Kaylee Patton, Warsaw; Anna Reimink, Lakeland Christian Academy; Kabrea Rostochak, Wawasee; Kate Rulli, NorthWood