Fort Wayne, IN: Mother's Day weekend and you guessed it, LBI was in the gym. This time in Ft. Wayne, IN to see teams grind and tune-up for the upcoming May evaluation period. Some teams were all ready to go while others were missing a few key pieces, but in all, the weekend was fruitful and competitive. LBI got to see some old and new faces. So, here is what we saw. Happy Mothers Day.
Lady Gym Rats Invitational Game of the Day
Indiana Flight UAA 16U 65 vs. Lady Gym Rats Gold 16U EYBL 64
Hoosiers are proud people. Especially when it comes to basketball. With the stands full and the lights on, Indiana Flight UAA and Gym Rats Gold kicked off Championship Sunday with a bang. Gym Rats jumped out to an early lead and seemingly were on cruise control well into the second half before 6’1” PF Amber Austin decided she would have none of it. When Austin began to control the boards, run the floor, and finish at an elite level, Indiana Flight began to close the gap and make things interesting. PG Hannah Knoll was able to speed up the tempo of the game with her defense and ability to handle the ball and deliver to streaking teammates for easy baskets and three-pointers. One of those streaking shooters was Alivia Terry who was able to knock down three key triples during the Flight’s furious 2nd half flurry. But just when the momentum seemed to shift for good, Gym Rats PG Teresa Maggio had an answer. Maggio collected key steals and baskets almost at every turn. In a roughly 30 second spurt, Maggio made a deep three from the wing followed by a steal and another three from the right baseline while stepping over a fallen defender. Maggio was magic as she finished the contest with seven triples for the game. But the Indiana flight were able to prevail as the Lady Gym Rats were not able to execute down the stretch to secure the win.
LBI Player Of The Game: Teresa Maggio (GR) - Clutch shooting, relentless play, and energy, finishes with 26 points
LBI Stat Of The Game: There were 17 total three-point shots made between the two teams. Three players (Teresa Maggio (GR) 7, Hannah Knoll (IF) 3, Alivia Terry (IF) 3, made 3 or more
LBI Hero Of The Game: Amber Austin (IF) - Dominating presence, double-digit rebounds, 24 points
LBI Unsung Hero: Katie Burton (IF) - Unbelievably competitive, fighter, had two critical baskets in the 2nd half
LBI Side Notes: Mary Wilson was saddled with foul trouble for Gym Rats. Nakaih Hunter and Lilliann Frasure DNP
Lady Gym Rats Invitational Top Teams
Always 100 Tharp 2024
While I wanted to concentrate on high school players this weekend, I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to watch eventual 7th Grade Platinum Champions, Always 100 Tharp 2024. This team is loaded with potential. 6’0” PF Tia Phinazey is long and athletic with the ability to guard on the perimeter. Macey Oberlin is tough, runs the floor well, and offers good length as well. Destiny Craig is about 5’10” and is very fast and strong, and shows potential to make plays in the open court. But PG Jordyn Poole is the engine that makes this team go. Poole’s basketball IQ is there at a young age. She distributes, slashes, and competes on both ends of the floor. Always 100 Tharp 2024 is a team of the future.
Always 100 Elite 2021
Few teams exude the confidence and toughness of Always 100 Elite 2021 anywhere in the Midwest. The 10th Grade Platinum Division Champs earned convincing wins over Indiana Flight UAA and All Ohio EYBL at the Lady Gym Rats Invitational. As I mentioned before, this team is tough. Always 100 is led by the dynamic backcourt duo of Olivia Smith and McKenzie Hudgen. Smith is virtually impossible to stay in front of. She finishes from impossible angles and seems to be knocking down the 3 with more consistency. Her best attribute is her relentless nature which is the fuel for her team’s success. Smith and Hudgen share a tenacious energy that is both infectious for their team and disruptive for the opponents. Hudgen uses her grit to get in passing lanes and rebound balls a lot of girls her size wouldn’t have a chance to get. Hudgen is also a phenomenal shooter for behind the arc. Lamiyah Woodson runs the floor and is the most athletic player on the court in most games. Her partner in crime is Courtney Lee. Woodson and Lee serve as the anchors of the team with there strong frames and physical play. SG Moira McGinley is also a marksman with range. She moves without the ball well, catches, and has a quick, deadly trigger. Always 100 Elite 2021 continues to have a successful spring.
West Virginia Thunder 2022
The West Virginia Thunder brought a very distinct brand of basketball to the Lady Gym Rats Invitational. No doubt, their success came from executing sets and consistent player and ball movement. They are a team without a real superstar but are very good nonetheless. PG dynamo Dionna Gray is quick and gets deep penetration to create for others. She’s small, but more than makes up for what she lacks in size with skill and grit. Both Marley Washenitz and Peyton Ilderton can shoot the rock. Ilderton torched the nets for four triples is a 3 point loss to a tough Michigan Basketball Academy team during pool play. She was also able to score in transitions and moves well without the ball. Imani Hickman adds size and toughness. Hickman even can knock jump shots from 12-15 feet. Finally, I love what Ma’Kayla Lute brings to the table off the bench. She facilitates the offense well and shoots the three making sure the Thunder don’t skip a beat as the game wears on.
Lady Gym Rats Invitational Clutch Players
2022 Abbey Kimball 5’9” CG Michigan Basketball Academy 2022 Brown
If you’ve followed me over the last year, then you know I love Abbey Kimball and what she brings to the game of basketball. Quite simply, she just plays basketball the way it should be played. She plays with great energy on both ends of the court and can do just about anything the game of basketball requires a true combo guard. That being said, Kimball was electric this weekend. She made playing at 100 mph look effortless in the signature MBA up-tempo style of play. Kimball made five and four triples in back to back games while managing to be the spearhead of a lethal attack. One of those thrills sent a game into its 2nd OT at the buzzer. Spend just a few minutes watching Abbey, and you will come away impressed as she is consistently good!
2023 Skylar Jones 5’10” SF Mac Irvin Lady Fire
Skylar Jones has a big smile. She also has a big-time game. In Mac Irvin Lady Fire’s 4 point win over All Ohio JayBee, Jones was CLUTCH down the stretch. She scored 23 points that included And1s, clutch free throw shooting, and an uncanny ability to get big basket after big basket. This lefty is smooth with the ball, and she possesses the ability to finish at an elite level. Jones was a Lady Gym Rats Invitational standout and national talent.
Lady Gym Rats Invitational Stock Risers
2024 Chloe Spreen 5’9” CG Lady Gym Rats Turquoise
There are kids out there that just hook you with their demeanor on the court. It’s what I call “gym rat swagger” (no pun intended) and 2024 Chloe Spreen has IT! You know the kid that runs, walks, shoots defends and competes at such a high level you just know she’s spending a ton of time the gym. I mean, its the only way you can separate yourself from your peers at such an early age. Let’s just say Spreen is all that and a bag of chips. High Major
2022 Theryn Hallock 5’10” SG Michigan Basketball Academy 2022 Brown
Theryn Hallock has transformed herself from a primarily high energy in your face player to a legit scoring threat along with the attributes mentioned above. She’s improved her touch around the basket and ability to finish from multiple angles. Hallock has a business-like approach to her, and it has served her and her team well.
Seven More Names You Need to Know
2021 Arianna Smith PF 6’2” All Ohio EYBL
2022 Ruby Whitehorn SG 6’0” MI Crossover
2021 Bynn Shoup-Hill PF 6’3” Always 100 Wright
2023 Ashlynn Brooke CG 5’8” Indiana’s Best-Red
2023 Amiyah Reynolds CG 6’0” MI Crossover
2023 Cadence Dykstra CG 5’8” Grand Rapids Storm
2022 Lexus Bargesser 5'9" CG MI Premier
High School Platinum Division Championship
10th Grade - Always 100 Elite 2021 : There was not a tougher team in the entire tournament.
9th Grade - Michigan Premier 2022 : Michigan Basketball Academy had no answer for their transition game. Holding the MBA high octane offense in the low 40's was amazing.