Week-7 of the IBCA/Franciscan Health Player of the Week Award Embraces a Strong Veteran Presence

As we head into the holiday season, high school players around the state are trying to finish 2020 with a nice gift or two for their teams. Six more preps have been selected as recipients for the Week-7 IBCA/Franciscan Health Player of the Week award. Five of them are Seniors, one is just a rookie, plus we have our first repeat winner of the year, and a few more who have won in seasons past.

Lowell Senior Christopher Mantis, Blackford Senior Luke Brown, Greensburg Senior Lane Sparks, Hammond Bishop Noll Senior Courtney Blakely, Carroll (Flora) Freshman Alli Harness, and Greenwood Christian Senior Isabella Reed have been selected as honorees for Dec. 14-Dec. 19 in the recognition program coordinated by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Mantis and Blakely take home boys’ and girls’ honors, respectively, in District-1. Brown is the boys’ recipient, and Harness is the girls’ recipient in District-2. Sparks is the boys’ winner, while Reed is the girls’ winner in District-3.

Lowell Senior Christopher Mantis has steadily put up numbers throughout his entire career, but last week he achieved his single-game high in scoring, nearly reaching 50 points. In his only game of the week, the 6-6 wing helped the Red Devils to a 69-57 advantage over Portage Tuesday night by scorching the nets for 48 points. He was 18-32 from the field, a solid 5-12 from 3-point range, plus he shot a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. Mantis, who remains uncommitted at this time, added 10 rebounds and five assists, plus he blocked a shot in the victory.

Hammond Bishop Noll’s Courtney Blakely finds herself back in the spotlight again as this season’s first two-time winner of the weekly award. The Senior guard put together a pair of nice outings, helping the Warriors to two wins. Tuesday, in a 70-65 success at Highland, Blakely scored 35 points by making 13 field goals, three of which were from deep, plus she added six made free throws. She posted a double-double with her 10 steals, plus she managed three rebounds and six assists as well.

Returning to the floor on Friday in a big Greater South Shore Conference game against Lake Station Edison, the 5-7 guard scored another 32 points, as the Warriors pulled out a 60-48 triumph. Blakely, who also remains uncommitted, knocked down 11 more field goals, five treys from deep, and five charity stripe tosses in the effort. Additionally, she snagged seven rebounds, dished out three assists, and pulled in three steals in the big conference win.

Blackford’s Luke Brown is widely respected for his ability to bury long jump-shots, but Tuesday it was his work at the free throw line that helped the Bruins to a nice 86-77 win over the Northeastern Knights. On his way to 37 points, the Senior guard was a near-perfect 21-22 from the stripe. He also posted a double-double with his 11 assists, he grabbed seven rebounds, plus he collected a pair of steals in the victory.

Thursday evening, it was more of what we’ve come to expect out of the 6-1 guard, as Brown buried five of eight shots from deep, on his way to 34 more points. He was again a near-perfect 5-6 from the free throw line, plus he added three rebounds, three assists, and two steals in the 70-57 win over Liberty Christian. Brown has committed to play next season at Stetson University.

Carroll (Flora) Freshman Alli Harness has put together several really nice weeks already this season, but there has been quite a bit of competition for the weekly District-2 award. It’s her turn this time, though, as the high-scoring youngster was again superb in a trio of contests. Monday the Cougars hosted the Lady Braves of Maconaquah, defeating them by a close 68-59 score. Harness posted her highest scoring output of the week, making 10 total field goals, three of them from long range, while going 7-9 from the line, on her way to 30 points. She also contributed nine rebounds, three assists, four steals, and even blocked a shot for good measure.

Over the weekend, the 5-7 point guard played limited minutes in easy victories over Rossville and Frankfort, but she still managed to post good numbers once again. In the Friday win against the Hornets, Harness scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds, handed out four assists, and collected three steals. She returned Saturday against the Hot Dogs with a quickly amassed 28-point performance. The rookie also had a team-high nine assists and five steals, plus she collected seven caroms in the success.

In Southern Indiana, Greensburg’s Lane Sparks takes home the District-3 boys’ honors for the first time this season. The 6-2 guard played just one game last week, but Friday night he was on fire at Jennings County, as he helped the Pirates to a 73-63 triumph and a 3-0 start to the season. Sparks, a Huntington University commit, was a robust 17-25 from the field, he knocked down one of his two 3-point attempts, plus he was 4-5 from the free throw line, as he poured in 39 of Greensburg’s 73 points. He also contributed in other ways, grabbing eight rebounds, handing out three assists, and collecting five thefts.

The District-3 girls’ winner is Isabella Reed of Greenwood Christian, and the Senior forward knows a lot about stuffing the stat sheet. Tuesday night, in a hard-fought, 69-62 Pioneer Conference win over Park Tudor, the 5-9 forward was a solid 10-16 from the field, but she was perfect from the two lines. Reed buried all four of her 3-point attempts as well as all 11 of her charity tosses, on her way to 35 points in the huge win. She also collected nine rebounds, dished out three assists, and collected a pair of steals.

Saturday, in another Pioneer Conference game at Bethesda Christian, the Cougars again took the victory, this time by a score of 65-52. While she was a modest 6-12 from the field, Reed knocked down four of her six 3-point attempts, plus she was again sizzling from the free throw line, making 15-16 of her shots, as she scored 31 points in this outing. The Indiana Wesleyan University commit posted a double-double with her 12 rebounds, and she added four assists and a pair of steals, as Greenwood Christian moved to 2-0 in the Pioneer Conference.

This is the 13th season for the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Week program, but the first season it is presented by Franciscan Health, a corporate sponsor of the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.

Player of the Week winners are chosen each week from each of the IHSAA’s three districts. Girls winners will be chosen through the Monday following the IHSAA Girls State Finals. Boys winners will be chosen through the Monday following the IHSAA Boys State Finals.

Other Top Nominees for Week-7 (2020-21)

District-1 Boys: Brayden Bontrager, Lakeland; Koron Davis, Gary Thea Bowman; Tyvon Henry, South Bend Career Academy; Tate Ivanyo, Morgan Township; Landen Jordan, Churubusco; Aidan Lambert, Fort Wayne Snider; Fletcher Loyer, Homestead; Tristin Miller, Lewis Cass; Luke Saylor, Heritage; Blake Wesley, South Bend Riley.

District-1 Girls: Tori Allen, Andrean; Emme Boots, Bluffton; Lillian Mast, West Noble; Emma O’Brien, Morgan Township; Cierra Pipkins, Griffith; MaKaya Porter, Mishawaka Marian; Mila Reynolds, South Bend Washington; Jessie Ringen, Rensselaer Central; Brynn Shoup-Hill, Goshen; Sidney Wagner, Tippecanoe Valley.

District-2 Boys: Mason Brooks, North Putnam; Camden Brown, University; Jake Chapman, Tri-Central; Champ Ellis, Union (Modoc); Noah Johnston, Twin Lakes; Gavin Smithson-Burciaga, Monroe Central; Isaiah Stafford, Crispus Attucks; Kyle Thomas, Cloverdale; Pierce Thomas, Brownsburg; Brody Whitaker, Greencastle.

District-2 Girls: Mariah Claywell, Union City; Tyra Ford, Anderson; Layla Gold, Park Tudor; Laila Hull, Zionsville Community; Rayah Kincer, Franklin Central; Chanya Lambert, Central Christian; Ally Madden, Blue River Valley; Moira McGinley, Bishop Chatard; Jasiah Scaife, Muncie Central; Ariana Wiggins, Heritage Christian.

District-3 Boys: Matthew Arthur, New Washington; Bryce Bates, Hauser; Tucker Biven, New Albany; Hagen Knepp, Barr-Reeve; Lane Lauderbaugh, South Decatur; Cody Samples, South Ripley; Nick Schwarte, South Ripley; Blake Sisley, Heritage Hills; Kolden Vanlandingham, Northeastern; Tyler Wyles, Cambridge City Lincoln.

District-3 Girls: Averi Davidson, North Central (Farmersburg); Abby Fleetwood, Brown County; Mya Knepp, North Daviess; Kencia Levasseur, Washington; Danica Myers, Eminence; Graycie Poe, North Knox; Taylor Singer, Gibson Southern; Hannah Sisk, Princeton Community; Zoe Stewart, Terre Haute North Vigo; Amaya Thomas, Evansville Central.

2020-21 Weekly Winners

Nov. 2-Nov. 7District-1 girls: Courtney Blakely, Bishop Noll. District-2 girls: Olivia Nickerson, Twin Lakes. District3 girls: Hope Fox, East Central.

Nov. 9-Nov. 14: District-1 girls: Mariah Wyatt, Wabash. District-2 girls: Tyra Ford, Anderson, and McKenna Layden, Northwestern. District-3 girls: Rebekah Gordon, Heritage Hills.

Nov. 16-Nov. 21: District-1 girls: De’Mour Watson, Elkhart. District-2 girls: Erikka Hill, Shenandoah. District-3 girls: Gracie Adams, Lanesville.

Nov. 23-Nov. 28: District-1 boys: Cole Wireman, Kouts. District-1 girls: Jessica Carrothers, Crown Point. District-2 boys: Brooks Barnhizer, Lafayette Jefferson, and Gus Etchison, Hamilton Heights. District-2 girls: Jayla Smith, Lawrence North. District-3 boys: Kooper Jacobi, Silver Creek. District-3 girls: Sydney Jaynes, Trinity Lutheran.

Nov. 30-Dec. 5: District-1 boys: J.R. Konieczny, South Bend Saint Joseph. District-1 girls: Olivia Smith, Fort Wayne South Side. District-2 boys: Ian Scott, Plainfield. District-2 girls: Skylie Lutz, Union City. District-3 boys: Julian Norris, Evansville Bosse. District-3 girls: Kylee Edwards, Shelbyville.

Dec. 7-Dec. 12: District-1 boys: Caleb Furst, Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian. District-1 girls: Ellia Foster, Bremen. District-2 boys: Brody Whitaker, Greencastle. District-2 girls: Ariana Wiggins, Heritage Christian. District-3 boys: Logan Rohrbacher, East Central. District-3 girls: Abby Fleetwood, Brown County.

Dec. 14-Dec. 19: District-1 boys: Christopher Mantis, Lowell. District-1 girls: Courtney Blakely, Hammond Bishop Noll. District-2 boys: Luke Brown, Blackford. District-2 girls: Alli Harness, Carroll (Flora). District-3 boys: Lane Sparks, Greensburg. District-3 girls: Isabella Reed, Greenwood Christian.

IBCA membership continues to grow as we approach the January 1st deadline when memberships increase. At this time, we have 107 IHSAA boys’ head coaches and 125 IHSAA girls’ head coaches who have not signed up for membership.

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