With the fellas ready to take center stage for the balance of the winter season with the wrestlers at the state finals, the swimmers at sectional and the boys basketball tournament draw this weekend, this seemed like a good time to take a last look back at some members of a remarkable class of girls basketball players as that season has come to a close.
It was a premature finish compared to hopes and expectations, but that does nothing to diminish what the Class of 2021 has accomplished.
I’ll start with Reece VanBlair at Alexandria, who scored 1,352 points during her career and was a four-year starter. She burst on the scene as a freshman, overcame a concussion during her career and enjoyed her finest year as a senior, scoring 18.6 points per game. It was fun to watch her game grow, and I look forward to seeing her continued success at Anderson University.
There’s Tyra Ford of Anderson, two-time THB Sports Girls Basketball Athlete of the Year and the all-time leading scorer for her program. She developed from a player with raw skills who battled in the interior with girls much taller into a finessed and skilled guard who was just as deadly from 3-point range as she was inside. After four straight Madison County championships, she’ll continue to dazzle fans next year at IUPUI.
Due to injuries, her final season did not measure up to the rest of her career, but Heather Pautler is still Daleville’s all-time leading scorer among girls. Just being able to play this season was amazing after a devastating car accident earlier in 2020. She reached the 1,000-point milestone in her final game and led the Broncos to their first sectional title last season.
There were few players in recent years who came up bigger in the postseason than Frankton’s Ava Gardner and Chloee Thomas. Both graduate as three-time sectional champions (Thomas’s first came at Hamilton Heights) and played in a state title game. Gardner’s postseason run a year ago won’t soon be forgotten, and Thomas had memorable game-winning moments last year at semistate and this year at sectional.
Another member of the 1,000-point and four-year starter clubs is Kylie Davis at Pendleton Heights. It isn’t easy taking over a Class 4A school’s point guard position as a freshman, but she did it and did it very well. Over her four years, she took on more of the scoring burden and averaged 17.1 points this year to finish with 1,104 for her career. After another spring with the Arabians softball team, she’ll be tearing it up for a college team to be determined.
And, finally, I come to the top two scorers in Shenandoah girls basketball history. Kathryn Perry scored 1,875 points — averaging 18.9 for her career — and Erikka Hill totaled 1,614 (along with over 1,000 rebounds, 1,000 volleyball kills and a state shot put championship). The dynamic duo scored 40 points in a game three times this season and won sectional titles the last two years. According to available numbers, Perry is the all-time leading girls scorer in Henry County and ranks third overall. Perry will play at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods next year while Hill will join the University of Miami track and field team.
I really appreciated watching these kids develop their games over the last four years and grow as people. They’ll all be as successful or more so in whatever they do going forward.
Maybe one or more will do what former Arabians great and 2017 Johnny Wilson Award winner Sam (Hammel) Vaughn did recently. Now a senior at Huntington University, Vaughn joined the 1,000-point club for the second time, having done so at PH. She is the 26th player in Foresters history to accomplish the milestone.