It is a story that Ariana Simmons does not like to hear, so of course it is the one her head coach talks about often.
“She hates me talking about this,” says South Side coach Juanita Goodwell with a laugh.
It was prior to Simmons' freshman year with the Archers, and Goodwell did not know what to expect out of one of her new players. So they brought the forward in for a workout to see what she could do.
“She came in and just had this competitiveness and energy that we loved,” Goodwell said. “From that day, we knew she was special.”
There was no doubt that Simmons had the skills to be a varsity player as a freshman, despite the wealth of talent the Archers had on the roster. But Simmons did not want to plunge into the big time so soon, so she asked to start at the junior varsity level.
“I wanted to kind of ease into it, I asked to be on JV,” Simmons said.
She lasted one game before being bumped up to the varsity roster. Two games after that, she dropped 20 on Bishop Luers.
“She was not going down again after that,” Goodwell said.
Over the next four years, Simmons continued to improve and refine her game, culminating in a senior season where she helped South Side to its first state championship appearance in program history and a Class 4A runner-up trophy.
Simmons averaged 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds on the season and was named to the All-SAC first team and first team all-state by the IBCA.
She is also the 2013 News-Sentinel Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
In a time where laziness and unaccountability seeps its way onto the basketball court with increasing regularity, Simmons has been a refreshing example of hard work and high energy. Throughout her career with the Archers, she has led from the front, from staying after practice to work on her shot to leading conditioning workouts in the offseason.
“I have developed a lot, including being better mentally and not letting things get to me,” Simmons said. “I have just worked to get better at everything I do.”
One person happy to hear that is IPFW women's coach Chris Paul. Simmons will join the Mastodons next season and hopes to see significant playing time as a college freshman.
One person definitely feels she can do just that.
“She is such a hard worker with her effort and energy that I feel she is definitely ready to play (in college),” Goodwell said. “The system that IPFW runs really fits Arianna.
“She has really developed as a leader over four years and I am so proud of the progress she has made.”
The 2013 News-Sentinel All-Area Girls Basketball Team
South Side senior forward Arianna Simmons is joined on the 2013 News-Sentinel Girl's Basketball All-Area Team with the following players:
* DeJoyah Johnson, senior, South Side
Helped lead the Archers to their first title game in program history, was named to the All-SAC first team and averaged 9.9 points, 2.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game.
* Bailey Farley, senior, Canterbury
Invited to the Top 60 workout after helping the Cavaliers win their fifth Class A championship in the last six years. The Loyola (iIllinois) recruit averaged 18.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, and shot over 51 percent from the field on the season.
* Darby Maggard, sophomore, Canterbury
One of the top underclassmen in the area, Maggard averaged 17.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per contest and shot 96 percent from the free-throw line.
* Kindell Fincher, junior Canterbury
Another top player on Canterbury, Fincher was named to the Indiana Junior All-Star core team and is a first-team All-State underclassmen honoree by the IBCA. The Xavier recruit averaged 18.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and two assists per game.
* Meredith Shipman, senior, Snider
A big reason the Panthers won their fourth straight sectional crown, The Western Michigan recruit averaged 16.0 points and 5.6 rebounds. She has been invited to the Top 60 workout and was a first-team All-SAC selection for the second straight season.
* Deja Wimby, sophomore, Snider
Another emerging star in northeast Indiana, Wimby averaged 14.1 points and 6.6 rebounds for the Panthers and was a first-team All-SAC selection.
* Sydney Buck, junior, Homestead
A great all-around player, Buck was a first-team All-NHC selection, has been named to the Indiana Junior All-Star core team and is a first-team All-State underclassman honoree by the IBCA. The Butler University recruit averaged 21.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists for the Spartans.
* Josie Fisher, sophomore, Homestead
Sneaky good, Fisher was a first- team All-NHC selection and led the area in assists per game with 7.4. She also averaged 13.0 points, 4.2 steals, 2.8 blocks and 4.3 rebounds per contest.
* Keanna Gary, senior, Leo
A first-team All-ACAC selection, the Akron University recruit averaged 14.9 points and 12.0 rebounds for the conference co-champions.
* Courtney Smith, junior, Concordia Lutheran
A first-team All-SAC selection for the second straight year, Smith averaged over 16 points and seven rebounds as the Cadets won their fourth straight sectional crown. She was also named to the Indiana Junior All-Star North team.
* Taylor Wilson, senior, Norwell
A first-team All-NHC selection, Wilson averaged 10.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.9 steals and 3.4 rebounds per game. The Saint Francis recruit was an Honorable Mention All-Star selection by the IBCA.
* Brandi Dawson, junior, Garrett
Averaged a double double on the season with more than 17 points and 12 rebounds a game and was also a first- team All-ACAC selection.
* Haley Martin, junior, DeKalb
Martin led the Barons by averaging a double double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks a game. She is also a first-team All-NHC selection.