Week-9 of the IBCA/Franciscan Health Player of the Week

Week-9 of the IBCA/Franciscan Health Player of the Week Program Wraps Up the 2023 Calendar Year

If you are caught up in any of the number of bowl games on television this week (and last), don’t forget Hoosier hoops is alive and well, as many teams begin the second half of their regular seasons starting tonight. Last week saw a lot of programs participating in holiday tournaments, while a few had a single matchup scheduled here and there. From last week’s slate, we have actually come up with seven winners for the final week of 2023.

Maconaquah Junior Josiah Ball, Columbia City Junior Addison Baxter, New Palestine Junior Julius Gizzi, Noblesville Senior Reagan Wilson, Twin Lakes Senior Olivia Nickerson, Bloomfield Sophomore Blake Neill, and Jennings County Senior Juliann Woodard have been selected for Dec. 25-Dec. 30 in the recognition program coordinated by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Ball is the boys’ recipient and Baxter is the girls’ recipient in District-1. Gizzi collects boys’ honors, while Wilson and Nickerson share girls’ honors in District-2. Neill is the boys’ winner and Woodard is the girls’ winner in District-3.

Maconaquah pushed their record to 7-2, as they won the Miami County Holiday Tournament for the first time since 2012. Junior Josiah Ball had a major hand in both wins, helping the Braves inside and out. In Wednesday’s opening round, the Braves took care of Caston, 78-56. The 6-5 forward managed a game-high 34 points, to go with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and a blocked shot. Thursday, in the hard-fought 88-83 championship game win over host Peru, Ball was a force, pouring in 45 points and collecting 16 rebounds. He was also an efficient 16-19 from the free throw line, plus he added 3 assists and a steal in the trophy-raising victory.

Columbia City has been strong this season, posting a 14-2 record to date, and last week they won the annual Hall of Fame Tournament in New Castle, Indiana, with two tough victories. Junior guard Addison Baxter has been outstanding this season, and she again put on a show last week. In the opening game Friday, a 75-69 win against Indian Creek, the 5-9 guard scored 31 points on 9-13 shooting. She knocked down her only 3-point attempt, plus she was 12-13 from the charity stripe. She added 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals for good measure. In the championship game later that night, the Butler University commit had another strong outing, scoring 17 points, pulling down 9 more rebounds, while handing out a pair of assists and collecting 4 steals in the big win for the Eagles, a 56-47 success over a good Jennings County team. And if that wasn’t enough, Baxter added tournament MVP honors and reached the 1000-point plateau.

The Dragons of New Palestine also moved to 7-2 last week, following four strong performances by Junior Julius Gizzi. They finished 5th but posted a 3-1 record at the Ray Furney Holiday Classic in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Friday, the Dragons defeated Jennings County, 83-59, then fell at the hands of eventual champion Newport (KY), 72-66, playing them tighter than anyone else at the event. Saturday, New Palestine knocked off Bethesda Christian 69-49 in their consolation game, then took care of business against Pike Central in the 5th Place game, winning 91-48. Gizzi opened the tournament with a 30-point, 7-rebound effort against Jennings County, knocking down 12-16 shots from the field and 4-6 from deep. He posted 35 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists in the loss to Newport (KY), giving the Dragons everything he could. Saturday, the 6-2 wing began with a 24-point, 6-rebound outing against Bethesda Christian, then polished off the event with another 30-point effort against Pike Central. Gizzi was 5-7 from 3-point range and added 4 rebounds and 2 assists against the Chargers.

Senior Reagan Wilson helped the Noblesville Millers to a pair of nice wins in the Noblesville holiday tournament last week. In the opening game on Thursday, Noblesville knocked off Valparaiso, 65-56. Wilson, a 5-7 point guard, scored 29 points and was 4-9 from deep in the outing. She added 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 5 steals in the win. Later that evening, the Millers battled a tough Fort Wayne Snider squad, escaping with a 57-51 success. Wilson shot it even better, scoring 30 points, burying 4-7 shots from long range, and making all 6 of her free throw attempts in the matchup. The Iowa State University commit chipped in 3 rebounds and 3 steals at the defensive end of the floor as well.

Twin Lakes Senior Olivia Nickerson helped the Indians to a 3rd Place finish in their own tournament, but it was a pair of massive career accomplishments that need to be highlighted this week. Throughout their 3-game tournament run, Nickerson became the all-time leader in career 3-pointers made in Indiana girls’ basketball history. She now stands at 368 made with no fewer than 9 games to go in her career. Additionally, the 5-7 guard became Twin Lakes’ all-time scoring leading, passing 2008 Indiana All-Star Betsy Adams. Nickerson currently sits at 1837 career points and should challenge for 2000 before year’s end. As for her performances last week, in the opener Wednesday against Faith Christian, a 77-50 success, the Bethel University commit went for 31 points, including 6-13 shooting from outside the arc. She also chipped in 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the easy win. Thursday morning, the Senior guard managed 20 points, thanks to an 11-13 effort at the free throw line, but the Indians fell in overtime to Bishop Chatard, 81-78. Twin Lakes and Nickerson responded in the 3rd Place game later that afternoon, taking care of Tri-County, 58-43. The 5-7 guard was a perfect 10-10 from the charity stripe, scoring 19 points, while pulling down 8 caroms, dishing out 6 assists, and collecting 2 steals in the comfortable win.

Bloomfield finished 3-1 in the Wabash Valley Classic last week, moving to 7-4 on the year. They opened Tuesday with a tough loss to Linton-Stockton, 61-44. Sophomore Blake Neill scored a modest 16 points, but added 5 rebounds and 5 assists in defeat. Wednesday, Neill buried 5-9 shots from deep, scoring 26 points in total, as the Cardinals narrowly defeated Northview, 60-57. Thursday, the 6-4 guard scored 17 points and buried 2 more triples, as Bloomfield won against West Vigo, 45-38. Then on Friday, the Cardinals once again found themselves in the win column with a 66-45 outcome over Greencastle. Neill was again strong for Bloomfield, scoring 26 points, including an 11-13 performance from the charity stripe. He also contributed 9 rebounds and 5 assists in their year-ending triumph.

Jennings County finished as the runners-up at the annual Hall of Fame Tournament Friday, but not for lack of effort. Senior Juliann Woodard gave it everything she had, posting a pair of double-doubles on the day. In the opener, a lopsided 60-22 win against Lake Central, the 6-1 forward was 7-12 from the field, 2-4 from deep, and she knocked down 5 free tosses, scoring 21 points in the game. She was also dominant on the boards, pulling in 22 rebounds in the contest. Add to that 6 assists, 2 steals, and 5 blocked shots, and she was effective all over the floor. In the evening game, the Panthers fell at the hands of Columbia City, 56-47. Woodard, however, was again a handful, scoring 18 points and collecting 12 rebounds in the defeat. The Michigan State University commit chipped in 2 assists as well.

This is the 16th season for the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Week program, and the fourth season it is being 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.




2023-24 Weekly Winners


Oct. 30-Nov. 4District-1 girls: Tenley Davis, Chesterton. District-2 girls: Avery Gordon, Brownsburg. District3 girls: Hadley Crosier, Lanesville.


Nov. 6-Nov. 11District-1 girls: Ava Ziolkowski, Crown Point. District-2 girls: Kayla Lacombe, Arsenal Technical. District3 girls: Chloe Spreen, Bedford North Lawrence.


Nov. 13-Nov. 18: District-1 girls: Samantha Redinger, Argos, and Gracyn Gilliard, Munster. District-2 girls: Kaycie Warfel, Pendleton Heights. District-3 girls: Audrey Annee, Center Grove.


Nov. 20-Nov. 25: District-1 boys: Bryce Wilcox, Southwood. District-1 girls: Brooke Zartman, Warsaw. District-2 boys: Brady Koehler, Cathedral. District-2 girls: Lillie Graves, McCutcheon. District-3 boys: Kasym Nash, Borden. District-3 girls: Madalynn Shirley, Evansville Central.


Nov. 27-Dec. 2: District-1 boys: Tyler Parrish, Chesterton. District-1 girls: Sadie Marks, South Central (Union Mills). District-2 boys: Damien King, Anderson. District-2 girls: Maya Layton, Faith Christian. District-3 boys: Trent Sisley, Heritage Hills. District-3 girls: Gabby Spink, Gibson Southern.


Dec. 4-Dec. 9: District-1 boys: Sam Essegian, Whitko. District-1 girls: Kenedi Bradley, Chesterton. District-2 boys: Braylon Mullins, Greenfield-Central. District-2 girls: Jaylah Lampley, Lawrence Central. District-3 boys: Aydan Head, Henryville. District-3 girls: Julia Meyer, Jac-Cen-Del.


Dec. 11-Dec. 16: District-1 boys: Jack Smiley, Valparaiso. District-1 girls: Kahlen Robinson, Bowman Academy. District-2 boys: Josiah Cox, Tri. District-2 girls: Maya Makalusky, Hamilton Southeastern. District-3 boys: Joshua Renfro, Christian Academy. District-3 girls: Brynn Owens, Austin.


Dec. 18-Dec. 23: District-1 boys: John Malchow, Winamac Community. District-1 girls: Gracyn Gilliard, Munster. District-2 boys: Philip Randolph, Indianapolis International. District-2 girls: Jacklynn Hosier, Alexandria-Monroe. District-3 boys: Josiah Dunham, Evansville Christian. District-3 girls: Brooklynn Renn, Silver Creek.


Dec. 25-Dec. 30: District-1 boys: Josiah Ball, Maconaquah. District-1 girls: Addison Baxter, Columbia City. District-2 boys: Julius Gizzi, New Palestine. District-2 girls: Reagan Wilson, Noblesville, and Olivia Nickerson, Twin Lakes. District-3 boys: Blake Neill, Bloomfield. District-3 girls: Juliann Woodard, Jennings County.


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