RYMAN AMONG GUARD-HEAVY LANCER SIGNING CLASS
Ink Free News / Sports on Friday, January 1, 2021
By Mike Deak
WINONA LAKE – Dan Davis is tipping his cards a little more as he settles into his coaching shoes at Grace College.
He loves quick, athletic guards.
Surprise, surprise, Grace’s signing day on New Year’s Eve featured three similarly structured guards and a combo guard-forward. All of which do a little of everything for their successful high school and club teams.
The local jewel of the four announced in the Alumni Room at Grace College is Warsaw Community High School senior Kensie Ryman, who sat between Greensburg guard Taylor Cooney and Perry Meridian forward Sally Mortensen. Over their shoulders on the Zoom call was Evansville Memorial guard Peyton Murphy, who joined the ceremony for a few minutes before scooting off to practice.
Kensie Ryman, guard, Warsaw Community High School
It shouldn’t come as no surprise that a Ryman is playing basketball at Grace College. Following in a long line of basketball lineage in Winona Lake that includes her sister, Maddie, who is a sophomore playing for Davis, both her mother, Nicole, and stepdad, Matt Dick, are Grace basketball alums, as is her grandfather, Jerry Ryman.
Kensie and Maddie will be reunited after playing together for two years at Warsaw. Kensie has taken over the point guard duties for the Tigers and has helped Warsaw to a 9-3 mark through the end of 2020, Warsaw ranked No. 15 in Class 4-A. Her raw stats read 9.7 points per game, 2.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals in those 12 contests. After a rough start to her career at Warsaw as a freshman, Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs has noticed a total 180 in Kensie’s approach and isn’t surprised she is poised to continue onto the next level.
“I’ll be honest, her freshman year we had a very rocky relationship, she didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand her,” began Krebs. “She’s a hardheaded, competitive kid. When you combine that with my stubbornness and hardheaded approach, that was oil in gasoline. We sat down after her freshman year and had a great conversation, got on the same page. Since then, she has been a phenomenal leader for the Warsaw basketball program. Knowing we were coming into this year with COVID hanging over us, I could rest easy knowing I had a three-year returner coming in to lead us. She took control of things. I’m so proud of her, and that she is going to play at Grace with her sister.”
Kensie, who has scored in double figures in six of Warsaw’s 12 contests, also has registered six assists on three occasions and seven helpers in a Northern Lakes Conference win over NorthWood.
“I’m ecstatic, excited and so thankful that Davis gave me this opportunity,” Ryman said. “I really am looking forward to being a part of this team and the program. I get to play with my sister again. I felt like we took it for granted when we played together at Warsaw. So, knowing that I can get two more years with her at Grace excites me. I get to also carry on the legacy in the family at Grace. There’s a little more pressure with that, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Added Davis of his third Warsaw recruit in as many years, “You know exactly what you have with Kensie. She plays all out. She’s tough. When you break your collarbone and come back two weeks later, that’s a tough kid.
“When you know the family so well, you have to separate that a little bit from the athlete. So for me, I wanted to make sure she really wanted to be here and not just be here because everyone else did. So we went and got a meal at my favorite spot Crazy Egg, just sat and talked. I wanted her to make sure she knew that I wanted her here. I think that made all the difference. But hey, that basketball tree in that family, you know they are players.”
Taylor Cooney, guard, Greensburg
Cooney checks all the whiteboard boxes for Davis, coming from a high school program at Greensburg that has won two sectional championships and made a state finals appearance in the past four years.
Greensburg hasn’t made its 2020-21 stats public as of Friday, but the Pirates are 9-2 overall and ranked No. 9 in Class 3-A.
As a junior, Cooney averaged 4.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals per contest, numbers that certainly compliment the style of play Davis employs at Grace.
“Playing fast in high school and playing fast in college are two different things, but I feel like I am suited to play uptempo,” said the Pirate point guard. “When he saw me playing in AAU, I didn’t know anything about Grace. But he let me know he was interested, and about a month later, I committed. He definitely sold the community, how they play, the team and how they are built. It sold me.”
Added Davis of Cooney, “She can score. She can defend. She’s strong and grew six inches in high school. She’s a multi-type guard that I love. She can play with the ball in her hand or off the ball. She’s a big, strong guard who has unlimited potential.”
Sally Mortensen, forward, Perry Meridian
While Mortensen and Perry Meridian are situated on the south side of Indianapolis, the Falcon senior is a little familiar with Warsaw. Mortensen and Perry made three appearances from 2018-20 in the TCU Holiday Classic hosted by Warsaw, and Mortensen was in the middle of a Falcon championship in 2019.
The forward has done well with the Falcons in 2020, averaging 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and about an assist and steal per night. She is approaching 600 career points, and has had a 23-point night this season against Pike, and a 14-point, 10-rebound contest against Clinton Central.
Having a little experience with Warsaw actually helped with Mortensen’s decision to come back to Kosciusko County to play at Grace.
“I feel like in Indiana, basketball is a big part of life, especially in northern Indiana when I came up here to play in some games and tournaments,” Mortensen said. “Just a lot of community coming to the games. Campus feels comfortable, feels very safe. I live on the south side of Indy, so there’s way more community aspects here that I’ve noticed. Just being familiar with the area, I’ve played against a lot of the girls that are here, and that helps. Coach Davis, he has constant positivity. He’s always running around, but he’s taking care of everybody. I hope to inherit some of that while I’m here.”
On cue, Davis was quick to relate a host of positive notes on Mortensen, “Her versatility. She’s kind of undersized as a forward at 5-10, but honestly, I like that. She can play anywhere on the floor. She reminds me a lot of Kenzie McMahon on our team now, very similar player. She is a kid that you can utilize in a lot of positions and play her a lot. There’s a ton of upside in her, can’t wait to develop her game here.”
Peyton Murphy, guard, Evansville Memorial
All the way down to the Ohio River is Murphy, who is starring for the 10-0 and Class 3-A No. 3-ranked Tigers. Murphy has cleared 600 points for her career, but isn’t a one-trick pony. Murphy averages 6.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3.1 steals per game this season for Memorial, and had a fantasy-worthy night with eight points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals in a win over Tecumseh and had 13 combined steals against Mount Vernon and Heritage Hills.
Murphy and the Tigers were sectional champs in 2018 and 2020, and Murphy and Cooney actually faced off twice in the regional rounds.
“When I first met coach Davis, I recognized right away how much pride he takes in his team, family and community at Grace College,” Murphy said. “He spoke very highly of the program and always wanted to make me feel at home because to him that was the biggest aspect of his college team. I feel like the closeness of the community surrounding Grace and how much at home the coaches and players made me feel made my decision about attending Grace clear. I’m excited about the next four years and can not wait to make new best friends!”
Added Davis on Murphy, “We didn’t know a lot about her, but went and watched her play a little, and man, was I impressed. At first, she kinda reminded me of, don’t take this wrong, but a Kyle Mangas. You look at him and say there’s no way he can do all these things then the other team is down 30 and he’s got 35 points and a triple double. She is a three-sport stud, stat filler. She can play the point, she can post up. Got a high motor and is a fierce competitor. That’s the type of player you like to coach. She’ll get on the floor and fight every night.”