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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Northview's Whitted repeats as County Player of the Year

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

(Photo)
Northview

Julie Whitted

6'5 Sr. Center

16.9 ppg. 8.9 rpg.

61.2 % FG - 65% FT

3.26 bpg. - 1,300+ career pts.

Northview senior Julie Whitted has been an integral part of the basketball team for four seasons. Beginning with her freshman year, Whitted played a key role in the success of the squad, at 6'5, she had a huge affect on both ends of the court. Last season, Whitted came away with her first Player of the Year award for leading the Knights to a 14-8 mark. But undoubtedly she would have traded that away for a trip like the squad enjoyed this season.

Whitted and her Northview teammates won 13 of their final 16 games of the year, including a win over Class A No.3 ranked Bloomfield, and an upset of Class 4A No. 3 Martinsville and No. 14 Mooresville.

Coach Bob Medworth believes that Whitted had a great deal to do with the Knights' regular season and postseason success this year.

"She improved greatly this season. I believe she had more desire and developed a better understanding of what she needed to do to be effective. Especially on offense," said Medworth.

In the Northview sectional run, Whitted dominated a Martinsville squad that included Jessica Breeden, a candidate for the Indiana junior all-star squad.

Whitted drilled the Artesians for 20 points and 22 rebounds in a victory that reversed an earlier 71-48 loss.

Medworth believes that Whitted began to take over basketball games late in the season. "You can see it on videos. . .there were many times where she just put us on her back and carried us. There were some games where she really seemed to take herself to a new level "effort" wise and it came at critical times in crucial games. Her influence extended not just to the court but also to her role as a leader. "This was also evident on the bench during time outs. . .there were times where she just had that look in her eye and you were darn glad she was on your side," noted Medworth.

The Knights were certainly glad that Whitted lined up on her side for four seasons of basketball. Whitted hit 61 percent of her shots from two point range this year and averaged just under 17 points per game as she became Northview's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. She pulled down nine rebounds per game and blocked 3.26 shots per game.

"Her value to our program is hard to measure. Leading scorer. Leading rebounder. Leader in blocks. But we don't know how many shots she altered or how many times someone did not drive in like they always do because she was there in the lane," said Medworth.

After such a dominant career for the Knights, it was only fitting that she helped lead Northview to some huge sectional wins this season.

"I think it was the perfect end to her career and the perfect set up for the next group. They will have to do it a different way without her there, but they tasted it and know they want more. That might be her greatest gift to our program," said Medworth.

Joining Whitted on the all-county squad is teammate Lexee Hayes, whose stats don't always belie her effect on a game. Hayes averaged 8.3 ppg. for Northview this season and 3.4 assists to lead the team. The junior contributed 2.2 rebounds per contest along with more than a steal per game.

"She is our best ball handler. She is our most aggressive dribbler and can be counted on to be strong with the ball and take care of it. She has a great pull up jumper and an outside shot," commented Medworth of his junior.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Hayes was playing much of the season on an ankle that she had surgery on following the season.

"She was in constant pain. And never asked to sit out. Not at practice, not in a game. And she went full out, all of practice, all the time, every day," noted Medworth.

Her attitude was perhaps the most valuable commodity that she brought to the court, with her desire and continued tenacity that certainly rubbed off on the whole team. Medworth believes that Hayes value lay in her versatility and how she brought the game that the team needed each particular night.

"It took a while for everyone to learn to play together. Kids like their roles defined cut and dried, black and white and it's not that way in basketball. One game we might need you to do this, in the next game you may need to shelve that and contribute another way. This is where Lexee is very effective," Medworth said of Hayes.

While Whitted's senior year was defined by some big wins late in the season, another player began her career as a big part of those victories.

Freshman Spring Raines started the year playing most of her minutes on the JV and freshman squads but continued to develop until it was impossible to keep her off the floor as a varsity member. By the latter part of the season, Raines was an integral member of Northview's sectional team and certainly didn't look like a freshman while averaging 21.7 ppg. in the sectional.

"Spring is just a gifted basketball player. She can do things as a freshman that other kids work on for years. She started the season unsure of her role also. And we played her up and down between JV and Varsity and that contributed to that. Once she demonstrated that she deserved to be a full time Varsity player, we went with that and then she really blossomed, just in time for sectionals," Medworth commented.

For the season, Raines averaged 14.7 ppg. and 4.6 rebounds per game. She also spearheaded an aggressive Northview defense, leading the squad with almost three steals per game.

"She has no fear. Martinsville means nothing to her. It's just a team to beat," said Medworth of Raines attitude towards the Knights' sectional opponent. " If she had not jump started us against Martinsville I am not sure where it would have ended. We were down 17-5 and she made some big shots and just kept taking it to them."

The Clay City Eels also enjoyed a remarkable run from a four-year starter as Whitney McWilliams took the court for the Eels for four seasons.

McWilliams surpassed the 1,000 point barrier for the Eels and played an incredibly important role for Clay City, not only leading the squad in scoring but also was in charge of running the offense and was at the forefront of the Eels' trapping defense.

McWilliams led the team in scoring once more with 15.8 ppg. despite being the focal point of nearly every team's defensive assignments. She led the squad by hitting 43 3-pointers this season and hit 71 percent of her free throws for the year. Despite being listed as perhaps generous 5'3, she also pulled down close to three rebounds each game and deflected countless more to her teammates while she scrapped underneath the basket. McWilliams also dished out 4.3 assists per game for the Eels.

On defense, she 51 steals, averaging out to more than 3.25 steals per game and again played a team-leading 705 minutes this season.

Joining McWilliams on the all-county squad is teammate Sarah Kennedy, who showed that there is plenty of argument for her as the county's most improved player this season.

The 6'0 junior took on the role as post player with gusto this year and averaged 12.1 ppg. this year as Clay City's second-leading scorer this season. Even more importantly, she gave Clay City a consistent second scorer that helped take the pressure off McWilliams and opened up the midrange jump shot this season.

Kennedy also pulled down 7.6 rebounds per contest and provided a quality defensive presence in the paint. As the season progressed this year it became increasingly obvious that she was taking a more aggressive stance in the post at both ends. Evidence of that was her 22 point, 22 rebound performance against Union (Dugger) in the sectional semifinal. She also averaged more than 15 points as Clay City surged to the sectional championship game.

Cumulatively, the five members of the 2006 All-County Team provide the entire spectrum of offense, defense and intangibles and with three members returning next year, the area has plenty to look forward to for 2007. In Whitted and McWilliams, Clay County will add not only two quality players to the college ranks, but great people to represent the area at the next level.



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