TERRE HAUTE —
The history books could easily tell you how good the Terre Haute South girls basketball team was two years ago based upon victories and state rankings.
The nation’s Division I basketball programs have also taken notice.
With Tessa Johnson’s recent signing to transfer from Lincoln Trail to Marshall, there will be four members of the 2008 South team to suit up in Division I next year.
Dragana Grbic will be a redshirt freshman making her debut at Butler, while Krista Smith will be a sophomore at Indiana State and Megan Craft will be in her first year at Ball State after two standout seasons at Vincennes University.
Johnson was 32nd in the nation in three-point field goal percentage last season and 35th in overall field goal percentage - she is not just a one-dimensional player. She started all 33 games for the Lady Statesmen, averaging 14.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per contest.
She was honored as an All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference and All-Region 24 performer, and Johnson also won the program’s Triple Threat Award for academics, athletics and citizenship.
“Her ability to shoot the ball is obviously her biggest asset, but she can do a lot of things on the court well enough to contribute at the next level,” said Chad Killinger, her coach last season. “She is willing to defend, works hard every day, and while she has to get physically stronger, has shown that she can put up decent numbers from a rebounding perspective.”
Killinger is looking forward to seeing how Tessa develops during her Marshall career.
“When we signed her, we told her that we were looking at this as a one year deal,” Killinger said. “She was an academic qualifier and didn’t need to stay in a junior college situation for more than one year if it wasn’t necessary. I think she showed that she is more than just a shooter, and there was no reason for us to try and hold her back. She is deserving of the opportunity to play Division I basketball.”
Johnson her enjoyed her season at LTC and likes the environment she is getting ready to join.
“All and all we had a great season,” she said. “We went 25-3 during regular season and made it to the nationals. We didn’t do so hot in Kansas, but just the experience to make it to the tournament was awesome.
“Marshall has a small compact campus and it’s a ‘college town,’” Johnson added. “They have a lot of fans who really support their athletes.”
Marshall is located in Huntington, W.Va., and is a member of Conference USA. The school has had many successful athletes, including NFL stars Randy Moss and Chad Pennington, and was highly publicized in the 2006 movie “We Are Marshall” that detailed the aftermath of a plane crash that killed the school’s football team.
Last season, Marshall had a 14-16 overall record and finished in a three-way tie for ninth in Conference USA with a 6-10 league mark.
Fortunately, Johnson will not be making the long trip east by herself.
Killinger has been hired as an assistant coach at Marshall, and All-American LTC point guard Lateidra Elliott will also be joining the Thundering Herd next season.
Marshall Coach Royce Chadwick likes the prospect of bringing in teammates that are familiar with each other.
“Anytime you add a chemistry dimension to your team, it makes the team better. They played together, know each other,” Chadwick said. “Lateidra brings pin-point passing and Tessa’s strongest asset is pin-point shooting. Those things fit together really well.”
Marshall made just 78 three-pointers as a team last season, while Johnson made 74 by herself for the Lady Statesmen last season.
“Adding Tessa is going to be a great addition because of what she brings to the table. She stretches the defense and that’s something that we wanted to help our team out offensively,” Chadwick said.
“They are looking for outside shooters,” Johnson added. “Hopefully, I can step in there with Lateidra to take some pressure off the post players and prevent double and triple-teams.”
Like all athletes making such a large step up in competition level, Johnson knows what she has to work on in order to continue her success.
“I know I need to get stronger and work on my defense to compete at the next level,” Johnson said. “But, I am willing to put in the work to help the team win. I want to help them win a Conference USA championship and play in the NCAA Tournament.”
• • •
• McCarthy to Holy Cross – Terre Haute North’s Francesca McCarthy has signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and athletic career at Holy Cross College with the women’s basketball program.
McCarthy, a 5-9 forward, won the Gold Medal Award, Rebounding Award, and Free Throw Award with the Patriots last winter. She also won the 2010 3-point contest and was selected to the All Wabash Valley team.
College athletics runs in the family. McCarthy is one of four cousins to compete at the collegiate level including Alison Bales who was a Duke University women’s basketball player and drafted #9 by the Indiana Fever in the 2007 WNBA draft.
McCarthy will play a big role for the Saints in the 2010-11 season.
“Francesca will bring a lot of passion and leadership to our young team,” said Head Coach Matt Hunsberger. “She also possesses an amazing work ethic that is very contagious. Fran’s the type of player that will do whatever she is asked and will be a great teammate for the rest of the girls. We are blessed to have her as a part of our program.”
While attending Holy Cross, Francesca will be working on a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. McCarthy has earned numerous awards for her play on the court, but she is also an outstanding student and a member of the National Honor Society.
She enjoyed her North career, and likes the fact she was also able to work on things to help her at the next level.
“I had a wonderful four years playing under Mike Allen at North,” she said. “Every year I felt like we had a team that had a good shot at winning sectionals, and each year I really felt like I improved as a player.
“I really worked on developing the three pointer and working on being able to play a wing as well as a post.”
Holy Cross is an NAIA school in northern Indiana in the small town of Notre Dame, and Coach Hunsberger was McCarthy’s biggest reason for choosing to become a Saint.”
“Coach Hunsberger really made a great impression on me,” she said. “He talked to me about being a great person and a great player. His philosophy really stresses team, and the only way we can be successful is through teamwork. “
McCarthy recently participated in a scrimmage at Hinkle Fieldhouse against the Butler women’s team, and said she got to talk to her new coach about what her role will be.
“I’m going to be mostly playing post, so we can have an opportunity to get bigger, but slower, girls on me causing a mismatch,” she said. “His offense is lots of motion and screening which I think I will fit well in. He also stressed how important my role will be as a rebounder and a defender.”
Coach Allen sees her succeeding at Holy Cross.
“Fran is a three year varsity starter for the Lady Patriots basketball team and is a hard working and dedicated basketball player,” Allen said. “She put in the extra time needed to improve her game to earn a scholarship to play at the collegiate level. Her time in the weight room will also benefit her at the next level.
“Fran will be a good fit in the Holy Cross program,” Allen added. “It is a new program and Fran has the basketball knowledge and leadership skills to help guide them in the right direction. Fran’s success is well deserved and I wish her the best.”
• • •
• Wheeler gets D-I ride – Recent Northview graduate Scott Wheeler missed most of his junior season with an arm injury, and for a while it looked like that accident during a crucial part of the recruiting process would hurt his college choices.
The 6-3, 290-pound offensive lineman was deciding between a long list of small schools when Division I Kent State started showing serious interest and offered a full-ride scholarship.
Wheeler is now a Golden Flash.
“Scotty has great size and is a very explosive player,” KSU Head Coach Doug Martin said. “We think we got a steal late because he missed his junior year with an injury and kind of flew under the radar. We’re looking for him to help us with our depth right away.”
Wheeler earned all-conference honors this past season, while helping Northview High School (8-2) to a Western Indiana Conference title. He earned Northview’s Best Lineman award and was selected to compete in the Wabash Valley Coaches Association All-Star Game.
“It’s a good atmosphere,” Wheeler said. “Everything is pretty close, but the campus is pretty spread out.”
Kent State is a member of the Mid-American Conference, and had a 5-7 record last year.
Two games this season are “money games” at national powers Boston College and Penn State.
Wheeler said he has been in touch with Kent State coach Doug Martin.
“He said as of now, I’ll be second string but he’s not looking to red-shirt me,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler will be the second NHS offensive lineman on a NCAA Division I roster this fall. Joey Evinger is a senior starting offensive guard at Louisville.
“We’re very happy for Scott and his family,” Northview Coach George Gettle said. “This is a tremendous opportunity. This was the best fit and the best place.”
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE —
The history books could easily tell you how good the Terre Haute South girls basketball team was two years ago based upon victories and state rankings.
- College Report
Catching up as the school year winds down
Odds and ends from here and there as the school year quickly winds down. For starters, high jumper Nick Jaeger of Terre Haute South was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s male track & field newcomer of the year:
College Report: Lively earned collegiate upgrade with strong play
Hillary Lively signed to play Division II basketball at Maryville (Mo.) during her senior year at North Vermillion, but those plans changed and she would up at nearby Danville Area Community College — where she recently concluded an outstanding two-year career.
Lively was impressive enough to earn a Division I scholarship to Southeast Missouri State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and both her future and past college coaches think she will continue to succeed there.
“She fits what we need,” SEMO coach Ty Margenthaler said. “She has college experience, she is strong and physical and plays well around the basket and moves well.
“Her strength, rebounding and touch around the basket will be a big help. On the defensive end, she’ll be able to guard a true center.”
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley prep athletes getting ready for next level
The NCAA “regular” signing period begins Wednesday for all sports except football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country and men’s water polo.
COLLEGE REPORT: Conferences honor Valley softball players
Several Wabash Valley area college softball players have been honored by their respective conferences for outstanding play this spring.
COLLEGE REPORT: Jake Newton makes big impact for Lincoln Trail College
Jake Newton had a long time between playing in competitive basketball games, a span of about 18 months, and used the frustration from that long dry spell to produce a stellar freshman season for Lincoln Trail College this winter.
COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed earns SEC Player of the Week honors
After belting three home runs during a five games last week, Kentucky sophomore left-handed pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week.
COLLEGE REPORT: Spring newcomers making marks
Several freshman baseball and softball NCAA Division I players from the Wabash Valley have already made immediate impacts at their new schools, while others are waiting for their turns to shine.
COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed named third-team preseason baseball All-American
Two-way sophomore standout A.J. Reed was one of three University of Kentucky players named third-team preseason All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
COLLEGE REPORT: Sponsler honored after big week for Wabash men's hoops
Wabash College freshman Ross Sponsler of Terre Haute North was named the North Coast Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 6.
COLLEGE REPORT: North grad Hughes finds success after facing preseason adversity
A.J. Hughes knew he was in for a battle as he competed with three other walk-on punters in the preseason for the lone starting job on the Virginia Tech football team.
Etling, Meggs enjoying great year
It’s been a great year so far with more to come for a pair of longtime friends and St. Patrick’s School classmates.
Former Terre Haute resident Jack Meggs quarterbacked the Bellevue Wolverines football team to the Washington Class 3A state championship this fall, culminating with a 35-3 win over Sammamish Eastside Catholic — Bellevue’s fifth straight crown.
Danny Etling, meanwhile, has completed graduation requirements at Terre Haute South and is preparing for an upcoming high school all-star game and his first college classes in a couple of weeks.
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley’s women’s college hoops players start strong
Several women’s college basketball players from the Wabash Valley have gotten off to good starts this season on the hardwood. Highlights:
COLLEGE REPORT: Mayhew, Mascari provide fall highlights
Several dozen Wabash Valley athletes enjoyed successful fall seasons collegiately in cross country and tennis this year.
COLLEGE REPORT: Former North teammates start strong in college
Former Terre Haute North teammates Ross Sponsler and Matt O’Leary made their college basketball debuts last week and had outstanding initial performances.
COLLEGE REPORT: Shoemaker OBP leads Chisox farmhands
Former Indiana State, Olney Central and Northview baseball standout Brady Shoemaker opened a lot of eyes last summer in the Chicago White Sox farm system, earning him a spot on a mlb.com blog team that highlighted the team’s outstanding minor leaguers at each position.
COLLEGE REPORT: Boeglin has plenty of ISU memories, but not all are related to basketball
Melanie Boeglin, an All-American who played on the women’s basketball team at Indiana State from 2002-2006, will be inducted into the 21st class of the Indiana State University Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday.
COLLEGE REPORT: North grad leading DePauw volleyball in winning streak
DePauw’s volleyball team has won seven straight matches entering this weekend’s DePauw Invitational, including four straight wins last weekend to capture the Rose-Hulman invitational title.
COLLEGE REPORT: Engle moving up football coaching ranks
Michael Engle graduated from DePauw University in the spring of 2011 with a degree in political science and future plans to advance his studies in law school.
Being a coach’s son and a competitive athlete by nature, Engle has put those plans on hold for now.
COLLEGE REPORT: From Terre Haute South to Division I competition to coaching careers
Adriane Wunderlich and Katelyn Bishop both turned stellar high school careers at Terre Haute South into Division I collegiate careers at Indiana State and Southern California, respectively.
COLLEGE REPORT: Former prep athletes getting ready for fall college season
An impressive total of at least 122 Wabash Valley athletes and coaches will be competing collegiately for the first time during the upcoming school year or have changed schools to continue their careers.
COLLEGE REPORT: SP’s Boetjer is Indiana’s Miss Softball
South Putnam’s Brooke Boetjer, who will be a freshman on the Indiana University softball team next spring, was named the 2012 Indiana Miss Softball last month between games at the North/South All-Star games in Carmel.
College report: North grad Mayhew is second team all-American at IU
Indiana University running standout Zach Mayhew of Terre Haute North was honored earlier this month as a second-team All-American by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
College report: Bloomfield runner to join IUPUI track, cross country teams
Bloomfield track/cross country standout Julie Riggins will be joining the developing IUPUI program next fall as one of six incoming recruits.
COLLEGE REPORT: Roberts takes coaching position at UNC-Greensboro
Terre Haute native Mike Roberts is continuing his climb up the college basketball coaching ladder, recently departing Rice for a spot as the associate head coach at North Carolina-Greensboro.
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley grads playing role for No. 13 Vincennes
A few springtime odds and ends:
COLLEGE REPORT: Shouse making his mark for Danville Community College
Derek Shouse definitely flew under the radar in his one season of playing for the Terre Haute South boys basketball team last winter.
Not highly recruited, he made his way to Danville Area Community College as a walk-on with the hopes he could find his way onto the court at some point.
COLLEGE REPORT: Bullock finds sunny home to continue tennis career
Most college athletes progress along similar paths to get to their final destinations athletically, but Terre Haute South grad Taylor Bullock’s route to the Eckerd College women’s tennis team was a little different than most.
COLLEGE REPORT: TH South QB entertains Division I offers
Danny Etling’s trek to being a big-time college quarterback took a huge step this week when the Terre Haute South junior picked up a scholarship offer from Purdue, according to 247sports.com.
COLLEGE REPORT: Seibert stepping up her game
Terre Haute South grad Haley Seibert has seen the usual ups and downs of her freshman basketball season at Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne and is making the most of her opportunities this season.
COLLEGE REPORT: Vikings Waters, Barton excited about college basketball
West Vigo grad Lauren Dailey helped the Lady Vikings basketball program to a lot of success at the end of the 1990s, and went on to play for Eastern Illinois from 2001-2004.
- More College Report Headlines
- Catching up as the school year winds down