A Diamond on the shelf
You don't always know when you'll find a story, be it a sad one. At breakfast at the Spring Hill Suites (terrific motel) by Marriott, the gentleman in charge of the breakfast area (Anthony Cole) recognizes me from prior days at the property and asks me what I'm doing in the area having been there for several days.
I respond "I'm a women's basketball scout and writer covering high school and college games in the area."
Surprised, Mr. Cole then tells me about his daughter's (Diamond Cole) sad tale. An aspiring 5-6 point guard with a slasher's mentality, Diamond was diagnosed with lupus (unusual at such a young age) in the eighth grade and was forced into retirement from the game she loved. Her immune system became so weak at times that she was homeschooled over her high school years to avoid excessive contact with the general population.
Now a senior and on 16 pills a day, she has been feeling somewhat better lately. Diamond hopes to attend college next year and dreams (if health allows) of walking on at the school she chooses. If things had worked out differently, she would have played at Hamilton Southeastern High School in nearby Fishers, Indiana.
Mr. Cole knew some of the Heritage Christian players [see Day 3 Thursday night's game] from his daughter's middle school club basketball team. He says it hurts him to watch girls play knowing how much his daughter wanted to be involved in the sport and play high school basketball.
On to the game of the day...
In the late, very rainy afternoon, I drove about 30 minutes west to Pike High School in the Pike Township School District which is part of the city of Indianapolis but a separate school district from the Indianapolis Public Schools. The opponent North Central High School was from a similar situation in Washington Township about 15 minutes drive away (according to the locals) depending on traffic.
The game in a word was "disappointing," not one to add to the reputation of Indiana basketball. Both teams are young but North Central was clearly less talented, perhaps not possessing a division one prospect. However, they are athletic, pressed and were willing to attack the Pike zone be it in a "semi-suicidal" fashion driving into the paint out of control hoping to draw a foul or get a stick-back off the miss.
The game was never really in doubt as Pike led 17-9 at the first quarter and 33-23 at the break. The game was only close briefly in the second quarter when the Pike lead dropped to 19-15 with just over six minutes left in the half. Pike errors (trying to play too quickly) combined with the North Central press had produced multiple turnovers. In the last few minutes of the half, Pike calmed down a bit and built the lead to 10 by halftime.
North Central managed to play the third quarter about even with the period ending 47-36 favoring the home team. The visitors scored but four more points in the fourth quarter resulting in a final score of 63-40.
Pike has talent but if this game was any indication, needs to slow down a bit. Brittany Ward (6-1 senior forward committed to Butler University) is a quality player. In foul trouble, she scored 12 points with 10 from the foul line. The star of the night was Alyssa Clay. The 5-7 junior guard led with 18 points including four three's. She's a combo guard who can play both guard positions but needs to take the physical play better if she's looking to go to the higher levels of D1.
Alyssa Clay of Pike HS
She's getting interest from some BCS schools with offers already from several mid-major programs. After talking a bit, she said she recognized me from an event run by the All-Ohio club [I was part of the tournament staff.] where she plays club ball (unusual for an Indianapolis-based player).
On the way out, I caught up with North Central Head Coach DeeAnn Ramey. She was frustrated by her young team's inability to get into an offense and break down the Pike zone. Only North Central senior 5-7 point guard Kyra Taylor reached double figures with 13 points for the night.
UPDATE: We have corrected Pike High School's Alyssa Clay's last name accordingly. It was inadvertently listed as "Rice" in the article.