GIRLS BB: Isabel Scales headlines All-Loganland team

Apr. 13—Caston's historic four-year run of success in girls basketball culminated with postseason championships this year.

The Lady Comets finally broke through with a sectional title — their first since 1985 — and followed it up with a regional championship — the first in program history.

Isabel Scales was a catalyst for the Comets' success. Her strong all-around play helped lead the Comets to a 75-18 record (.806) during her four-year career.

"She's a tremendous athlete," Caston coach Josh Douglass said. "She's a girl who put a ton amount of time into it behind the scenes and just worked at it to get better each year.

"She put up a triple-double in the Cass County Tourney. She did everything for us. Sometimes it wasn't just leading in scoring, she did it in a variety of ways: rebounding, assists, steals. She was a complete player."

Scales scored 1,415 points for her career, which is second most in program history behind only Amanda Wentzel's 1,541 points set in 1996. Edie Unger (1,245 points, 1988) is the only other 1,000-point scorer in Caston girls basketball history.

Scales and the Lady Comets had experienced about every level of success but a deep tournament run in basketball leading up to this postseason. But they delivered on that as well with their run to the semistate.

"That was just huge for us," Scales said. "We broke through last year in softball which I just think made it a little bit easier for basketball that we finally got over that hump. It was a little bit of pressure off our back, so hopefully it just keeps rolling into softball season too."

As for her four-year basketball career at Caston, she said, "It flew by. It went by so fast. But I wouldn't want to change anything honestly. Losing those couple sectionals that we should have won and being right there just made this last one just that much better, I guess. But I had a great career, I was surrounded by great coaches that supported us the whole time. It was just a really good experience for me."

Scales said her senior season was special. The Comets went 22-4, went undefeated in HNAC play a second straight season, won their second straight Cass County title and fourth straight Miami County title.

"It was a great season," Scales said. "The group of girls that we had, the connections, girls stepping up to fill the senior spots from last year. There was no drama, we worked well together, we showed up to practice every day, it just made the season a lot of fun."

There was a lot of drama during the games, which included erasing a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Tri-County 37-36 in the sectional final at South Newton.

"I remember watching that game the day after on Sunday and just yelling at the iPad thinking we weren't going to lose but I'm like, 'how do we come out of this? What are we doing?' We were turning the ball over. It was very stressful rewatching the game," Scales said.

The Cavaliers had handed the Comets their first loss of the season three weeks earlier. Scales said that made for a scrappy rematch in the sectional final.

"I think a little bit of it was we had a chip on our shoulders because they knocked us off at home. Their fans weren't huge about us. Our fans really didn't like them. So everybody played maybe a little bit more dirty than usual and just a little bit more aggressive," she said. "But that's what makes it fun when two teams are going at it like that because we both want to win it so bad which just makes it that much more special when you do."

Scales' physical style of play was a hallmark of the Comets' teams in recent years.

"We all take a weight class. We push each other all the time," she said. "We're hard on each other. Like in practice, we go for each other's throat verbally and physically. I just think that makes us that much better when we actually play the game.

"This senior group, our biggest thing is our grit. We trust each other and we just don't give up."

Scales' physical and all-around strong play should translate well at the next level. She's set to play at NAIA Bethel University.

"I watched a little bit of Bethel this past year trying to see where I could help them out the most and I just say playing hard and being physical," she said. "I don't feel like they had that grit that I can bring to the team. So next year I'm just going to go into it, I might not be the most offensively skilled person but I'm just going to go in there and work as hard as I can and just earn my playing time."

Scales' versatility is another strength. Standing at 5-foot-8, she point guard and center and everything in between for the Comets.

"I did a little bit of everything," she said. "This year I played more inside because we didn't have that threat and a lot of teams didn't have somebody to match up to my strength. For AAU I did everything. I played against 6-5, 6-7 girls underneath or then they'd put me on the 5-4 point guard that was extremely fast. So I can do really anything they want me to do."

The following are the rest of the capsules for the 2024 All-Loganland girls basketball team.

Addison Zimpleman, Caston

The 5-6 senior guard also had a big senior season for the Comets, averaging 13.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg and 2.8 spg.

She was always a threat shooting the ball and drilled five 3-pointers in a win against Pioneer.

"Addison is one of those players where softball is her first love but basketball came very natural to her," Douglass said. "She was very good at it. The time she did put into it she improved and got better all the time. She's a complete competitor so every time she stepped on the floor she was going to give you her all. She led us in scoring in some games. She plays tremendous defense. But her leadership skills stand out to me how she is always encouraging the other players. She's another girl who is a tremendous athlete who gave us 100% all the time and played every game as hard as she could. She maximized her ability."

Kinsey Mennen, Cass

The Lady Kings, like the Lady Comets, also had an historic season. The Kings' was more unexpected.

The Kings posted a 22-4 season as well, and they were the most improved team in the state after going 7-17 the year before.

The Kings posted their first winning season in 21 years and their first conference title in 23 years as they shared the title with Whitko in their first year in the TRC. They won their first sectional title in 19 years and won their first-ever regional championship.

Mennen, a 6-foot senior, was in the middle of all of the Kings' success and averaged 8.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.9 blocks per contest.

"She had a heck of a senior year for us, leading us in rebounds, blocks, was second in scoring," Cass coach Kyle Amor said. "She just had a season that we needed her to to turn this program around. She's been a person that we've leaned on the last couple years really. This year she was able to step up to the plate — I think she even led us in assists. She just makes everyone around her better. So I'm proud of the year she had and we had a lot of success because of it."

Aftin Griffin, Cass

The 5-1 guard, who has already reached the State Finals in cross country and track, helped lead the Lady Kings basketball team to the semistate her sophomore year.

She averaged a team-high 11.9 ppg.

"She's just the best athlete on the floor every single night," Amor said. "No teams really can match her speed. We had a few teams that tried to match us in man-to-man and they just weren't able to. They had to get into a zone and we were able to shoot well at times this season.

"She led us in scoring. She's the first to admit that kids finding her in transition can lead to that. But she also led us in steals. She had 71 steals this year, she's our 11th all-time in steals in a season. If she can repeat that her junior and senior year she's going to be in the top 10 list of all-time in steals in her career. She's just a special kid and that's all packaged in a 5-1 frame. She had a special year, especially dealing with the adversity that she's had to deal with, she has definitely overcome a lot and was a pretty important piece for us."

Makenna Strycker, Pioneer

Strycker, a 5-7 junior point guard, averaged 13.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.1 apg and 2.8 spg.

The Panthers went 6-16 which included wins over Logansport, LaPorte, North White, Frankfort, Frontier and North Judson despite heavy losses to graduation and a coaching change right before the season started.

"She obviously had a much bigger role for the team this year. Her first two years in varsity she was just kind of a role player. She had to step up and be a leader for us," Pioneer coach Adam Berry said. "She hardly came off the court and she was our point guard and we asked a lot of her. We asked her to set up the offense, we asked her to score the ball and that's a lot of pressure. I think it took a little bit of time for her to get to that role but she settled in nicely and had a very solid season for us.

"The games that we won she was the best player on the court facilitating the ball and scoring. She ended up leading our team in about every stat besides rebounds and blocks. So tremendous junior season and looking forward to seeing what she can do as a senior."

Second team

Lydia Goad, Logansport

The Berries also dealt with heavy losses to graduation. Goad, a 5-3 senior, was the lone returning starter from last year's 14-win team. Despite the increased attention she still managed to score 12.9 ppg. The Berries went 4-19 with wins over Muncie Central, LaVille, Marion and Frankfort.

"Obviously Lydia had a great career," Logan coach Chris Keisling said. "She was certainly our playmaker. She was the one that came back with experience. She's always been a nice shooter for us. She had to go into the role this year where she was the focal point of a lot of the other teams' defenses and from that standpoint she had a lot more pressure on her this year than she had in the past. But she's going to definitely be missed. She's just a nice heady little guard that can knock down shots. She just does a nice job with the ball. She's got good instincts. So she will definitely be missed."

Madisyn Douglass, Caston

The 5-5 freshman made an immediate impact for the Comets, averaging 9.5 ppg and 3.9 spg and helping them reach unprecedented heights.

She made the game-winning basket with 11 seconds left in the sectional win against Tri-County.

"For a freshman I thought she had a really good year," coach Douglass said. "You never know what to expect out of a freshman coming in and I thought she had a tremendous first year. The speed of the game, the physicality of the game, I thought she handled herself extremely well. I think she had a great senior class in front of her to learn that and helped her out there on the floor. I was trying to keep her aggressive because I knew we needed her and I thought she did a good job of staying aggressive but also playing within the team. She's used to being the primary ball handler and she wasn't the primary ball handler this year. She was OK playing off the ball and doing things like that.

"One thing that really stood out to me was her defense this year. That was one thing I questioned coming into the year. Her and Belle tied on the year in steals. Both breaking that record was a tremendous effort out of a freshman."

Kandace Kroft, Winamac

The 5-5 sophomore guard helped lead a turnaround season for the Warriors.

She averaged 9.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.0 apg and 2.4 apg.

The Warriors were the sixth most improved team in the state this year, going from 4-20 to 14-10.

"Kandace I think took another step in her development this year," Winamac coach Tony Stesiak said. "Last year teams got to focus on her a lot and as a freshman to play not just varsity but to be a freshman starter and play point guard and be the leading scorer on a rebuilding team was a lot to ask. I thought she handled herself really well last year but it was a tough year and I think she grew from those lessons and had a really good year and took another step in her development.

"She's just a complete player. Offensively, defensively, rebounding, assists, everything for us, she does it. It's great to have when your best player works really hard and all aspects of their game is important to them I think that rubs off on other players. She certainly led us again this year. We had a better supporting cast around her I think which helped. But also to see her drive to win rubs off on other players in a positive way."

Marissa Iverson, Winamac

Iverson also stepped up her sophomore year for the Warriors. The 6-footer posted 9.9 ppg and 5.9 rpg.

"She really emerged. She was easily our most improved player from start to finish," Stesiak said. "At the beginning of the year we weren't sure, I knew she had a lot of potential but it just wasn't all coming together. I think playing with older players getting some varsity time really helped out and she had some good games and started building some confidence. Once that grew the sky's the limit for her.

"By the end of the season she was averaging a double-double if you look at the second part of the season. That's just great to count on because we had a lot of guards but to be able to count on her to be able to rebound and post presence on a nightly basis, she led us in free throw attempts, I think she barely edged out Kroft in rebounding and she's knocking on the door with Kandace in points per game. She truly emerged this year and it's really exciting for me as a coach to know that Kroft and Iverson are just going to be juniors. So there's two more years of that combo together I think is really exciting as a coach."

Maggie Smith, Winamac

Smith, a 5-5 senior, averaged 7.9 ppg, 2.7 apg and 2.7 spg.

She's a rare five-sport standout for the Warriors.

"She's by far our best defensive player in terms of she always guarded the other team's best guard," Stesiak said. "She's been doing that even before I became coach, she was doing that her sophomore year too. But for two years for me our best defensive player always got the other team's best guard, did a really good job. I think a lot of Makenna Strycker and in the sectional Maggie shut her down and really took her out of the game, which was a key thing for us. Then she really emerged as a point guard, ball handler, shooter the last couple of years, a coach's kid that I think winning was really important to her. Whatever we needed her to do she wanted to do.

"She's the best pure athlete I've ever coached. She's going to get five varsity letters this year and set the school record for most varsity letters in a career. If she could have concentrated on basketball her stats would have even been better. But I'm glad she's doing what she's doing because running is her passion. But she was really important for us and will really be missed because she was that steadying presence. She didn't talk a lot but led by example and would be a nice person for the younger players to go through because she's been through a lot in her career."

Third team

Mia McKaig, Pioneer

The 5-7 sophomore averaged 8.4 ppg and 6.0 rpg for the Panthers.

"She just has a great basketball IQ," Berry said. "She led our team in rebounds and she just had a knack for knowing where the ball was going to go and angles. She did a great job blocking out. She was a 3-point threat. I think she wishes she would have had a better clip but I know she's going to work extremely hard this offseason to produce even more as an upperclassman. The future is very bright for her. It was her first year as a varsity player and she has two more solid years ahead of her."

Piper Link, Winamac

The 5-10 senior averaged 7.8 ppg and 6.0 rpg for the Warriors.

"Things just fit better when Piper was on the floor," Stesiak said. "She just did a lot of things, got a lot of gritty rebounds, she became our best passer, particularly as we saw a lot of zones, her willingness to pass out of the inside of a zone let us play inside out, get some rebounds, score enough to keep teams off balance. She drew the most charges on the team. She took more charges than the rest of the team combined and took them at key spots too. She was just willing to do a lot of the dirty work that doesn't really get a lot of headlines but coaches know and other teams know that she was really important to what we did.

"She led us defensively in kind of taking over for Hailey Attinger last year in terms of she got people in the right spots of our defense and that was helpful to us. She will be missed. Even though the stats don't jump right at you, her steadying presence and veteran leadership, her and Smith and Lily Bennett, those three seniors will be tough to replace just because they were such good leaders by example. Probably the quietest kids we've been around but how they handled themselves on and off the court spoke volumes and really helped us out."

Kellyn Cripe, Logansport

The 5-4 junior averaged 7.2 ppg and 2.0 spg for the Berries.

"Kellyn is a quick, aggressive player. She's a really good defender," Keisling said. "She's a 2 guard, at times we would run her at the point but that's really not her natural position. She's a streaky shooter, when she gets on she'd get pretty hot and drop quite a few in. But I'm really excited about having her back. I just know she's going to create a lot of havoc on the floor defensively against other teams. So I look forward to some things for her on that end of it. Offensively I know we're going to rely on her to knock down some shots outside and attack the basket off turnovers that she creates."

Heta Kosunen, Cass

Kosunen, a foreign exchange student from Finland, gave the Kings a boost. The 5-9 forward averaged 6.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg.

"What a great transfer for us from Finland. Normally exchange students don't have the type of impact that she has had," Amor said. "She was our second leader in rebounds, she did lead us in offensive rebounds with 90 which is just insane. She's a gritty kid that wanted to win. And she wants to win in everything. I got a chance to teach her in PE this year and I swear how she is on the basketball court was how she was in tennis or dodgeball or really any game she wanted she was trying to win. She brought that competitive fight to our practices and I thought she made every night better for us because of how she practiced and it showed on the floor. She's a special kid, we wish we could have her for another year."

AnnaLeigh Hedrick, Cass

The 5-5 sophomore averaged 6.1 ppg and 2.0 spg for the Kings.

"AnnaLeigh, like Aftin, is just an unbelievable athlete," Amor said. "We depend on her quite a bit to put the ball in her hands. She's our point guard, she is our catalyst offensively. She was second in assists behind Kinsey by one. She was second in steals behind Aftin.

"She's up there in every category for us. She's a kid I really struggle taking her off the floor because we just aren't the same team without her. And she can run forever. I'm excited to have two more years with her because she's going to be special."