SHOOTER: The third annual girls prep hoops Shooter Choice Awards
One team remains standing as we head to state finals weekend as Central Noble will square off with Winchester on Saturday at 12:45 p.m. for the Class 2A state title.
Shooter will be there. The town of Albion will be there. Maybe you will be there too. But the vast majority of those wrapped up in girls prep hoops in the area have seen their seasons completely close. So like always, Shooter is going to piggy back off the end of the season with the third annual Shooter Choice Awards.
I pick the categories, I pick the winners. You get to just sit back and appreciate.
Take that last shot Award: Carissa Garcia, Concordia Lutheran
Garcia hit 70 three pointers at a 45 percent rate during her junior year and was shooting 50 percent for the majority of the season. This could easily be Shooter’s toughest award to choose because of the quality of three-point shooters from top to bottom in the area.
But in the end, Garcia is the most trustworthy. Her basketball IQ made her shooting what it was. She wasn’t a chucker, she picked and chose her spots all 154 times with great intelligence. Watching Garcia shoot from long range, there is no doubt whose hands Shooter would put the ball in with the game on the line as we sit here today.
The Sensational Sixth: Sylare Starks, Homestead
We all fall short, right? Shooter thinks that our preseason Fabulous Five was pretty spot on in a lot of ways, so no mulligan needed per se here. But this amphibian has the wisdom to know that when the final selections were being made in November, that picking that last spot or two was close.
Starks showed very quickly that there would be no worry in how she would fit in with Homestead. She was the most reliable and go-to player on their roster and wow’d us all many times. When she was locked down, Homestead faltered. When she got loose, they succeeded. Again I say, the Fabulous Five was a good group this year. But if Shooter was able to pick a sixth, it would be Starks.
Always next season I suppose. (hint hint)
Go get me that rebound Award: Ellie Snep, Whitko
What a year for post play in the area. Name drop: Taniece Chapman, Ellen Ross, Meleah Leatherman, Kathryn Knapke and the list goes on and on. But Shooter needs a rebound. Ten seconds left, tie game and Shooter needs the ball! Carissa Garcia can’t shoot that last shot if we can’t get her the ball. Who gets the rebound?
Ellie Snep gets that rebound.
Whitko didn’t get much attention this year. It lost the two best scorers in the history of the school to graduation, it lost its coach and then proceeded to go 3-20 in the most rebuilding of all rebuilding years. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and Shooter has named that light Ellie Snep. At 15.8 rebounds per game, Snep was one of the best in the entire state this year as a junior, with 21 against Madison-Grant, 20 opposing Manchester and 23 twice — against Southwood and again in the final game against Prairie Heights. Snep had less than 10 rebounds in a game just twice all year and one of those was a nine-rebound night.
Better box out ladies because Snep gets boards and she still has a year left to keep doing it.
The face of the program: Hannah Barnes, Snider
Shooter has spent years around high school basketball and every coach ends up with one or more of those “coaching dream” type of players because of their attitude, their mental toughness and their effort each day.
Barnes has the best attitude probably of any teenager ever. She is a workhorse in every sense of the word and really seems to have things figured out. She is eloquent in how she speaks, knows how to address teammates, coaches and media and she’s pretty good with a basketball in her hands too. She’s used that overall IQ to prepare her game for the next level and go from pure shooter to a significant dual threat.
We could also call this award “The Biggest College Steal” because Ferris State is getting a fantastic young lady in Barnes. If I started a program and needed a face to sell it, no doubt it is Barnes.
Best in Class: The Seniors
The girls’ basketball scene has never been hotter and Shooter feels like he says that every season. But I mean it this time. Every class is loaded. But we lose a lot as we say goodbye to this senior group. Part of that comes with some of our most successful teams, like South Side, Carroll, Northrop and Fairfield being so senior loaded. And then there are individuals like Nebraska-bound Leigha Brown of DeKalb.
While our lone state finalist is young with only one player in this class in Calista Rice, most of the top teams were older and built for this season. There will be a ton of familiar faces gone when the girls take the court again in November and while the talent pool remains super deep, it will be a strange sight for so many girls who have been varsity players for so many years to be gone.
Game of the Year: South Side at Northrop girls, December 15, 2017
Plenty of candidates for this one including both South Side games with Homestead, Central Noble’s semi-state win over Frankton or Bishop Luers’ upset of Homestead in SAC Holiday Tournament play. But in the end, Shooter has to pick this one game, the first meeting between the Archers and Bruins.
This was a year of big showdowns in the SAC. That is why the conference regular season came down to the last night. It is why sectionals were so crazy and it is why we had four different programs in the conference win a title of some sort during the season.
This was the first of those big games. Shooter hasn’t seen a gym packed for a girls game with the atmosphere this one had in a long time. Girls basketball in the city is good, we’ve been over that. This game was the official reawakening in Shooter’s eyes. Loaded senior classes, fiery coaches. It had all of the makings of the classic it was, with the game coming down to the final buzzer.
Coach of the Year: Josh Treesh, Central Noble
When Treesh took over a four-win Central Noble program for the 2014-2015 season, he had a lot of rebuilding to do. Treesh left the program four years earlier and watched it win just 10 games in his absence. He won just one more game that first year going 5-18. Three years later, he helped lead the program to its first sectional and regional titles.
Rest on your laurels? Nah. Not Josh Treesh.
In case you haven’t heard, the Central Noble Cougars are going to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse to play for a state title this weekend. Shooter is just going to say that is pretty good. Treesh has shown how well he does at guiding his team before, during and after games. He knows he has the pieces, he works to develop them so that he can move them around as he needs in the chess game that is a high school basketball season.
He has some other great qualities that make him a great coach too. First, he surrounds himself with quality assistants. Shooter has had the chance to see firsthand how guys like Tim Andrews and Shawn Kimmel interact with Treesh and the girls on the team and it is a big part in why Central Noble sits where it is. Treesh has these guys that he made part of his program, seeing talent and developing it.
But Treesh is also humble. He will openly admit he didn’t handle expectations that other people had super well early in the season. But he learned from any fault or mistake and grew himself. Any good coach will tell you that whether it’s on the court, in the locker room or a coach’s office, there is always work to do. Treesh is still working and that is why Central Noble is still playing.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Shooter at email@example.com.