Senior staff writer
Greenwood’s girls basketball team is not characteristic of past Woodman teams.
No more methodical half-court play for Greenwood under first-year coach Lee Taft, who has instituted an in-your-face defense that tries to score in transition quickly.
Returning players, including Indiana All-Star candidate Holly Hoopingarner, have bought into Taft’s speed system of playing basketball.
The payoff came early in the season by defeating Whiteland 58-52 recently for the Johnson County championship at Center Grove for the first time since 2012 when Hoopingarner was a freshman.
The Woodmen start four players who are around 5 feet 4 inches tall; therein lies the secret to their defensive full-court attack. They don’t really want to get into a so-called half-court game. So Greenwood dictates the tempo.
Greenwood captured the Johnson County crown with the one-two offensive attack of seniors Jae Taft, 27 points, and Hoopingarner, 20 points. Hoopingarner is averaging 19.8 points and Taft 15.5 points through seven games.
The Woodmen iced down the trophy when Hoopingarner hit two free throws with 18 seconds left for a 56-52 lead. Greenwood trailed 40-37 at the end of the third quarter.
Taft’s speed training paid off with the early season trophy.
“We break down the technique of how to move,” she said. “Each girl has to have a great first step, great lateral movement. We have to explode from a stance. Once they became faster and we became quicker, it helped our initial acceleration.
“We want to play at a fast pace with lots of aggression on defense.”
Senior Megan Overton and freshman Alex Kincaid, both 5-9, are Greenwood’s tallest players.
Greenwood reached the title game by defeating Franklin 72-64, Whiteland upended host Center Grove 64-52 to advance.
The Woodmen jumped out to a 6-0 record and a 4A No. 18 coaches ranking, but lost to Plainfield 60-41.
Perry Meridian’s wrestlers finished a close second to Warren Central, 286.5 to 261.5 points, in the Capital City Classic at Beech Grove.
The Falcons brought home three individual championships:
• 106 pounds – Sammie Fair penned Keyuan Murphy of Warren Central, in 5 minutes
• 152 – Brett Johnson defeated Trent Pruitt of Warren Central, 10-3.
• 160 – Noah Warren defeated Dominic Herrick of Warren Central, 2-1.
Seven Falcons placed second: Sonny Nier, 113; Jack Serview, 126; DJ Brookbank; Logan Hurrle, 138; Kain Rust, 145; Rilee Miller, 195; Chris Ridle, 285.
Franklin Central senior Jordan Vaughn pinned Rust in 5 minutes, 15 seconds.
Warren Central won seven championship matches.
The Flashes were fifth in team points; Beech Grove was eighth.
Franklin Central’s Harper Wright was named the 4A South Seniors Most Valuable Player in the third annual Indiana Elite North vs. South Volleyball Invitational at Danville.
She was joined on the squad by FC teammate Erin Starks; Greenwood’s Olivia Stilley played on the 4A North Senior all-stars, which won 25-17, 25-21, 25-19.
Beech Grove’s Alyssa Walsh and Michelle Jennings were named to 3A South all-star teams. Center Grove’s Gabrielle Pugliese and Devynn Merriman and Greenwood’s Hanna Anderson were 4A South all-stars.
In boys basketball, visiting Merrillville stunned No. 1 Southport 53-52 Saturday … Greenwood recovered from a 99-92 overtime loss Friday to visiting New Castle by defeating neighboring Greenwood Christian 72-48 … Roncalli edged Perry Meridian 52-46 after the Rebels built a 27-16 first-half lead … Franklin Central’s Marcus Burk scored 18 points as the Flashes fell to Ben Davis 60-50.
In girls basketball, Roncalli stands 5-0 after defeating Ritter 66-50 behind Lindsey Corsaro’s 22 points … Manual (4-1) downed winless Northwest 77-37.
Manual coach Donnie Bowling played basketball and graduated from Kokomo High School in 1991. He showed a video to this year’s Manual boys team of the 1961 state championship game won by Kokomo over Manual and the VanArsdale twins. The year of the game was in error in the Nov. 25 edition of The Southsider Voice.