(2-21-23) It seems like a repeat each week this season, but there were a number of nice performances, 1000-point scorers, a 2000-point scorer, plus conference championships being decided on the boys’ side. While in Saturday’s girls’ happenings, 32 teams were whittled down to eight, with Bethany Christian, Corydon Central, Fairfield, Fishers, Lanesville, and Lapel each seeking for their first state title. Forest Park eyes their second, and their second in a row, while Bedford North Lawrence is looking for number-5. All-in-all, seven players were chosen this week for the IBCA/Franciscan Health Player of the Week honor in each of their respective districts.
Burton, Trilli and Bidunga
Penn Senior Markus Burton, Munster Senior Brandon Trilli, Kokomo Junior Flory Bidunga, South Central (Elizabeth) Sophomore Cole Thomas, Bethany Christian Junior Mariah Stoltzfus, Lapel Freshman Laniah Wills, and Forest Park Senior Amber Tretter are being honored as winners for Feb. 13-Feb. 18 in the recognition program coordinated by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Burton and Trilli share boys’ honors, while Stoltzfus is the girls’ honoree in District-1. Bidunga and Wills are the boys’ and girls’ recipients, respectively, in District-2. Thomas is the boys’ winner, and Tretter is the girls’ winner in District-3.
Stoltzfus, Wills, and Tretter
Penn Senior Markus Burton has been electric throughout his career, and last week he achieved two notable marks, scoring his 2000th career point and helping the Kingsmen to an undefeated (11-0) Northern Indiana Conference season. In an 86-65 win at Plymouth, the University of Notre Dame commit scored 34 points, grabbed eight rebounds, tallied five assists, and stole the ball twice. He was also an efficient 15-23 from the field. During a lopsided win at Elkhart, the 6-0 guard scored another 30 points in limited time, he posted a double-double with 11 rebounds, plus he added another four assists and five steals to his career totals. The Kingsmen are now 21-1 on the season and ranked #2 in the state.
For the six consecutive year, the Munster Mustangs have won the Northwest Crossroads Conference with a perfect 5-0 record, and Senior Brandon Trilli has been a big part of this season’s success. They finished their conference season Friday night with a 68-51 win at Andrean. Trilli was 14-16 from the field and a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line, on his way to 33 points. He also pulled down eight rebounds, six of which were at the offensive end, and he collected three steals. If that’s not enough, earlier in the week the 6-5 forward eclipsed the 1000-point mark, joining his father, Mike (1989), as one of only eight Mustangs to ever do so. It was during an 84-66 win at Lake Station, and the younger Trilli finished with 30 points on 11-14 shooting, 2-2 from long range, plus a 6-7 performance at the line. The Northern Michigan University commit added 11 rebounds, plus he dished out five assists.
Bethany Christian Junior Mariah Stoltzfus might stand just 5-2, but she often makes the biggest impact on the court, as she did Saturday in the Class 1A North Semi-State. The Junior point guard helped the Lady Bruins to two victories by a total of nine points, and she made sure to save her heroics for the end. In the first game, Bethany Christian defeated Washington Township, 55-50. Stoltzfus was on target, making 7-12 shots, 3-3 from deep, plus a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe. She finished with 23 points, 19 of which came after halftime. She added five rebounds, four assists, and three steals to her effort. In the nightcap, Stoltzfus scored 21 points, but again she was instrumental late, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter, including the final six points from the free throw line, as the Lady Bruins knocked off a very good Tri team, 58-54. Once again, the point guard contributed in other ways, adding a pair of rebounds and dishing out seven assists. This Saturday will be Bethany Christian’s first ever State Finals appearance, as the 24-3 Lady Bruins take on Lanesville (27-2).
Flory Bidunga has definitely made his mark on Kokomo basketball the last two seasons, and the Junior big man isn’t done yet. Last week, the 6-10 front-liner scored 23 points and grabbed 19 rebounds (12 offensive) in a 66-41 win at Western. Bidunga was 10-14 from the floor, plus he added a pair of assists and a pair of steals. Friday night, the Junior post helped the Wildkats to a huge 69-52 North Central Conference win at Anderson over a good Indians team, helping Kokomo to a perfect 9-0 conference record this season. In this matchup, Bidunga was a perfect 13-13 from the field, he grabbed 14 caroms, handed out another pair of assists, plus he blocked four shots.
Though she’s just a rookie, Lapel Freshman Laniah Wills has been a walking double-double all season. Saturday, the 6-0 forward lived up to the billing, as the Lady Bulldogs earned their first ever trip to Gainbridge Fieldhouse and the Class 2A State Finals. To begin her day, Wills was key in a low-scoring, 44-32 win against Andrean. The Freshman scored 24 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and blocked a pair of shots for the Bulldogs in victory. She returned to the court Saturday night and posted her second double-double of the day in a 13-point, 12-rebound performance, as Lapel advanced with a 51-38 win over a feisty Central Noble bunch. As the Class 2A North representative, the 22-7 Bulldogs will take on defending Class 2A State Champion Forest Park (25-3) Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore Cole Thomas of South Central (Elizabeth) put together a really nice week, giving local fans a taste of a bright future. The 6-1 guard began his week with a 22-point performance in a 69-60 Southern Conference win at New Washington. He was a near-perfect 8-9 from the free throw line, plus he added six rebounds, three assists, and two steals, helping South Central to a winning record in their conference this season. Saturday they returned to action, and in a 70-48 win against Springs Valley, the Sophomore guard poured in 32 points on 13-20 shooting. Thomas was 2-5 from deep, 4-4 from the line, plus he posted a double-double with 14 rebounds, seven of which were at the offensive end of the floor. Add to that three assists and three steals, and the youngster posted a nice all-around outing.
Forest Park Senior Amber Tretter did everything in her power to help the Lady Rangers to their second consecutive Class 2A State Finals appearance, following a pair of impressive performances Saturday. The 6-1 forward scored 21 points, including knocking down all six of her free throw attempts, in helping Forest Park defeat Greencastle, 65-48, in the Semi-State opener. The Senior forward also snagged 14 caroms and blocked a pair of shots in the win. In the evening contest, the Miami University commit stepped up big-time, scoring 24 of her team’s 41 points, as the Lady Rangers escaped a very good North Knox group, 41-36. Tretter again put together a double-double with 11 rebounds. She will attempt to help Forest Park win their second title in three tries (they also made an appearance in 2000).
This is the 15th season for the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Week program, but just the third 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 next Monday, following Saturday’s IHSAA Girls State Finals. Boys winners will be chosen through the Monday following the IHSAA Boys State Finals.
2022-23 Weekly Winners
Oct. 31-Nov. 5: District-1 girls: Nevaeh Foster, Mishawaka Marian. District-2 girls: Olivia Nickerson, Twin Lakes. District–3 girls: Kylee Edwards, Shelbyville.
Nov. 7-Nov. 12: District-1 girls: Asia Donald, Hobart. District-2 girls: Gloria Brewer, Greencastle. District–3 girls: Juliann Woodard, Jennings County.
Nov. 14-Nov. 19: District-1 girls: Ashlynn Brooke, Pioneer. District-2 girls: Renna Schwieterman, Jay County. District–3 girls: Lauren Foster, Indian Creek.
Nov. 21-Nov. 26: District-1 boys: Jamie Hodges, Michigan City. District-1 girls: Kennedy Fuelling, Norwell. District-2 boys: Elhadj Diallo, Brownsburg. District-2 girls: Laila Hull, Zionsville Community. District-3 boys: Cam Craig, Switzerland County. District–3 girls: Keylee Hudson, Eastern Greene.
Nov. 28-Dec. 3: District-1 boys: Markus Burton, Penn. District-1 girls: Ava Ziolkowski, Crown Point. District-2 boys: Divine Adeyanju, West Lafayette. District-2 girls: Adrianne Tolen, West Lafayette. District-3 boys: Jack Benter, Brownstown Central. District–3 girls: Saige Stahl, Columbus East.
Dec. 5-Dec. 10: District-1 boys: Luke McBride, Norwell. District-1 girls: Amiyah Reynolds, South Bend Washington. District-2 boys: Landon Biegel, Oak Hill. District-2 girls: Cristen Carter, Ben Davis. District-3 boys: Trent Sisley, Heritage Hills. District-3 girls: Bailey Tabeling, Trinity Lutheran.