Local Sports

Participants announced for 2023 Hall of Fame Classic

The 2023 Raymond James Hall of Fame Classic will feature a star-studded field in New Castle.

The prestigious event will celebrate its 40th year of girls basketball games on Dec. 29 and the 49th annual boys tournament will follow on Dec. 30 at the New Castle Fieldhouse.

Selecting from the best teams in the state, the girls tournament has included 20 teams that went on to win a state championship that season.

The 2023 girls field features Columbia City taking on Indian Creek and Lake Central battling Jennings County in semifinal contests.

Columbia City finished 20-3 and has its entire team returning in 2023-2024. The Lady Eagles were led by Addison Baxter (19.8 ppg) and Kyndra Sheets (15.2 ppg).

Coming off a 27-2 season, Indian Creek return a talented roster for the 2023-2024 season.

A pair of juniors led the way for Indian Creek. Lauren Foster averaged 18.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Faith Wiseman, a six-foot, four-inch center committed to Indiana University, averaged 16.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game last season.

Lake Central has no seniors graduating from a 23-6 regional championship team. No player averaged over 10 ppg last season but five players averaged at least 7 ppg. Expected to return are Aniyah Bishop (9.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Riley Malausnic (9.4 ppg) and Ayla Krygier (8.4 ppg).

Jennings County will look to improve on a 16-6 season with a roster that includes its top junior scorer and a major contributing freshman.

Leading the Panthers this past season were junior Julian Woodard (22.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg) and freshman Mollie Ernstes (12 ppg).

The boys tournament has featured 19 teams that have gone on to win a state championship, including the 2023 Class 3A and Class 4A state champs.

In the 2023 semifinal games, Kokomo, this year’s 4A state runner-up, will meet Crispus Attucks in the first semifinal. The second pairing has Brownstown Central facing Brownsburg.

Kokomo will graduate four seniors from a team that finished 24-5 but will return 6-10 junior Flory Bidunga, ranked as the No. 3 player in the country. Bidunga averaged 20.2 ppg and 13.8 rpg for the Wildkats.

Crispus Attucks returns a majority of its roster from an 18-8 campaign.

Ron Rutland III led Attucks averaging 18 ppg. Also returning will be Dezmon Briscoe (15.6 ppg) and Deandre Lott-Hancock (8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg).

This will be Crispus Attucks first appearance in the Hall of Fame Classic.

Brownstown Central returns all but three players from a 24-5 squad that won a regional title. The Braves feature 6-5 Purdue commit Jack Benter (30 ppg, 7 rpg).

Brownsburg finished 22-5 and lost in the semistate to eventual state champion Ben Davis this past season. The Bulldogs return eight juniors, three sophomores and a freshman including Purdue commit Kanon Catchings (17.5 ppg, 5 rpg).

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