IFN ANNOUNCES FIRST BATCH OF 2020-21 ALL-IFN GIRLS BASKETBALL SELECTIONS
Ink Free News / Sports on Monday, February 22, 2021
By Mike Deak, Adam Yoder and Nick Goralczyk
WARSAW – It was a season to remember for girls basketball over the course of the past four months. From hopes of just getting started, to modifying basketball practices, COVID protocols shutting down teams for days or weeks, fans or no fans, the list could go on. It’s been a wild run.
With the IHSAA state tournament heading to the championship round, InkFreeNews is releasing its All-IFN selections for the 2020-21 season. Our first of two installments will have our Second Team released today, Monday, and the First Team released on Tuesday. That will include a profile on our IFN Player of the Year selection as well.
For today, here is the start of our spotlights on players that had an outstanding 2020-21 season. Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Audrey Grimm, Warsaw
She wasn’t the first option, or even the second, but she was a premier headache for opposing coaches to figure out.
Grimm did a lot of everything on the court that show up on the stat sheet, but also did more that didn’t. Grimm was typically employed to switch defensive assignments from post to perimeter, whomever might be getting hot for the opponent.
On paper, Grimm was second on Warsaw in rebounding at nearly five a night, and pushed in eight points a night, which ranked fourth, but Warsaw didn’t have a double-digit average scorer on the season, showing the versatility the team had and how Grimm fit in.
Where Grimm added extra value was in her shot selection, where she hit 57 percent of her field goals.
Grimm also had some big individual games. Her 24 points, four rebounds and four steals in the season opener helped Warsaw cruise past Manchester, and she poured in 17 points in each win over Columbia City and Elkhart. She also collected nine or more rebounds five times, pairing 10 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Wawasee.
For a player who had already committed to play soccer at Taylor University, Grimm had quite a follow-up in the Tiger Den.
“Audrey had a great basketball season,” started Warsaw girls basketball head coach Lenny Krebs. “Her success this year is a tribute to her positive attitude and work ethic. She is just an amazing all-around kid. While soccer is her first love and what she will be doing in college, she is also a pretty darn good basketball player. Audrey caused a lot of trouble for opponents with her combination of length and quickness. She has a soft touch around the basket and could use her quickness to get to the rim. Audrey just has a knack for getting her hands on the basketball and used her length to create turnovers at the top of our 1-3-1. She is proof to kids today that you can play multiple sports and be good at both.”
Kaydence Mellott, Tippecanoe Valley
While most eyes were on Sidney Wagner when Tippecanoe Valley was on the court, Mellott flourished in her role with the Vikings.
Quietly, Mellott was a shooting star, literally, while on the floor. Mellott harkened to a role similar to that of what Meredith Brouyette employed in Valley’s run to the 2015 state finals, parking behind the three-point line and making teams pay. Mellott finished with 66 three-pointers in 2020-21, which broke the school record for makes in a season, and was an eye-popping 45-percent shooter from behind the arc.
Her success behind the arc had her sitting 12th in the state in made field goals after the sectional round, and was eighth in three-point percentage. Nationally, Mellott was ranked 45th in the country in percentage and 48th in makes, per MaxPreps, through Feb. 12.
Mellott, only a sophomore, scored at least 10 points in 19 of Valley’s 22 games and made a three in all but one game. Her six made threes and 22 total points included six steals in a Valley win over Whitko, and Mellott hit five threes in three contests, and four in six more games. Mellott, who averaged 13.7 points per game, also had nine points and nine rebounds in a win over Triton.
“Kaydence had a great year,” stated Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball coach Chris Kindig. “She actually shot a better percentage from the three-point line than the two-point line (40 percent). That is a rarity. If she can make another leap forward this offseason, she might be another Player of the Year candidate! She is another in a long line of gym rats that have played in our program. She has a lot of room in her game left for improvement.”
Kensie Ryman, Warsaw
No one can question the toughness of Kensie Ryman. Established as a junior in returning from a broken collar bone after just two weeks, Ryman was perhaps one of the most important players to their team in the area in 2019-20. A year later, not much changed in terms of importance as Ryman guided Warsaw along a state-ranked season.
The point guard, who signed to continue her basketball career with her sister, Maddie, at Grace College, was just one of two players to play in all 24 of Warsaw’s 18-6 campaign. Ryman had big moments in big games, but also helped make tough matchups on paper look much easier. Her season-high 16 points helped Warsaw squash traditional power Wabash, and 13 points, six assists and no turnovers turned away North Judson in the second game of the Lady Tiger Classic. Ryman also didn’t commit a turnover and had seven assists and 15 points in a blowout of NorthWood.
Ryman, averaging 9.6 points per night, scored 10 or more in 12 games and had at least eight points in six more contests. She was a 35 percent three-point shooter, making 48 of her tries, and was a 74 percent free throw shooter.
“Coaches always talk about having a coach on the floor, Kensie has been that person for us,” said Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs. “She always made my job easier as I knew she wold get us in whatever we needed to be in. She understands the game and has a high basketball IQ, she was constantly on Hudl watching film and pushing herself to get better. She is a tough, hard nosed kid who can impact the game on both ends of the floor. She is a solid outside shooter who can also get to the rim.
“Defensively Kensie really understood the strengths and weaknesses of the player she was guarding and worked to take away what they wanted to do. I am looking forward to watching her as she continues to grow and develop at Grace the next four years.”
Kennedy White, Wawasee
On a Wawasee team where it didn’t have a clear-cut go-to player, Kennedy White was about as close as it got.
The sophomore forward led the team in every major statistical category, including points (7.5), rebounds (6.3), assists (1.8), steals (2.4) and blocks (1.2). Her raw numbers of 128 points, 45 offensive and 107 total rebounds, 30 assists and 40 steals were also team leaders.
Impacting the entire court, White had 17 points, four rebounds, four steals and two blocks in a win over Concord, had 11 rebounds against West Noble, 10 rebounds against Northridge and 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists against Manchester.
In a season where Wawasee had two full stoppages for COVID-related reasons, White was possibly the most consistent entity in its arsenal.
“Kennedy is the Swiss Army knife of basketball players,” said Wawasee head coach Matt Carpenter. “She can score both inside and from three-point range, rebound on both ends of the floor and distribute the ball to her teammates. She also lead our team in steals this season and had a knack for blocking an opponents shot in crucial moments of the game.”
Taren Yates, Triton
Triton’s girls basketball team had a lot of options on the court this season. With a trio of forwards capable inside, as well as host of guards willing to step up for Adam Heckaman’s program, someone still had to rise to the top. That player was Taren Yates, whose value over the season became higher and higher as Triton started to find its stride.
Yates would be a sneaky play fantasy basketball owners would love to have on their championship teams, her ability to do a little of everything providing value on both ends of the court. In the team’s run to a regional final for the first time since 2004, Yates wound up finishing the season as the team’s leader in scoring (8.2 ppg), steals (78), was second in assists (73) and averaged almost four rebounds per night, pulling down 95 for the season.
The guard also nailed 21 threes and helped the Trojans to eight wins in its final 11 games, including a sectional title for the first time since 2011.
Yates, a junior, is part of a core group for the Trojans that return for another run next season.
“Taren is a special player that can impact the game in a variety of ways,” said Triton head coach Adam Heckaman. “Her speed and athleticism along with her competitive drive provide an immediate spark on both ends of the floor. The best part about Taren is she is just scratching the surface of what she is capable of.”