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Adria Hartley named Peru Tribune Player of the Year

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: North Miami junior Adria Hartley (20) helped the Warriors to break the .500 mark for the first time since the 2008-09 season, leading the team in scoring while being among the team leaders in several offensive and defensive categories and was rewarded for her all-around contributions with the Peru Tribune Player of the Year award for girls’ basketball.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

After floating around the .500 mark for the past two girls’ basketball seasons, North Miami had a breakthrough season, finishing the year with a 15-7 record, a 6-3 mark in TRC play and an appearance in the Oak Hill sectional final.

Leading the charge most nights was Adria Hartley, who combined a team-leading 12.5 points-per-game while being a leader in rebounds (5.7), assists (2.3), steals (1.7) and several other categories each night on the floor.

Hartley’s all-around contributions have earned her the Peru Tribune Player of the Year award for girls’ basketball.

The junior said the offseason was always busy but helped the team gel ahead of the season.

“We went to a few shoot-outs during the summer,” Hartley said. “We went to Lafayette, Blue River Valley and head coach (Steve) McClure’s hometown of Rising Sun where we had some scrimmages.

“There were also open gyms throughout the summer. Doing volleyball year-round also helped me stay in condition throughout the year instead of just sitting around.”

North Miami had no seniors on the team this year, leaving the juniors as the oldest group on the floor, an issue Hartley thought would be more awkward than it ended up being.

“I was a bit nervous at first,” Hartley said. “I was worried that we would have to lead the team and that it wouldn’t be well received.

“The girls are all very nice, though, and no one took it as being bossed around. It’s easy to talk to everyone but even then, I knew I had to step it up this season.”

The Warriors added three wins to their ledger this season but cut their losses from the previous year by five, partly down to a team that was more comfortable

playing with one another according to Hartley.

“We were a little more mature this year,” Hartley noted. “The current junior and sophomore classes are really close, something that’s been the case since being in the middle school.

“We’re used to playing with one another, which helped a lot this season.”

McClure said watching Hartley early in the year showed what improvements she had made in just a few months’ time.

“From last year to this year, one of the things I noticed about Adria is that she finished better in the open court,” McClure said. “We told her that any opportunity she got, she had the green light.

“Her half-court game improved to the point she was able to use her gifts there and in the full court as well.”

A 4-1 start to the season ahead of TRC play helped build the confidence needed for the rest of the season with Hartley noting the team played some of the better teams on the schedule much tougher than in the previous two seasons.

“When you start off well, that’s going to help as the season goes along,” Hartley said. “Where it helped is when we played some of the tougher teams on the schedule.

“Having that little bit of confidence built up helped us beat teams we hadn’t beaten in previous years. It helped that some players graduated but we also matured as a team and we started to hang with teams we weren’t used to beating.

“Once we did that, we realized that we could win those games,” Hartley added.

Having additional confidence went a long way towards helping her own game takeoff as Hartley said she it took time to get comfortable playing during the season.

“Prior to the season, I felt like I played a little timid,” Hartley said. “There were times I stopped shooting and even choked a little bit at the beginning of the season.

“As the year went on, I relaxed, got into a groove and improved as the season went along.”

McClure was quick to concur with Hartley.

“Confidence brings it all together for her,” McClure said. “Looking at our stats, she’s in the top two or three in every category.

“She shoots a good percentage, works hard on the defensive end, gets steals, deflections, rebounds, scores well and is playing on a team where all the girls are like that. She contributes in a lot of ways and is valuable even if she isn’t scoring.”

At the midway point of the year, North Miami defended its Miami County Classic title with wins over Maconaquah and Peru, a defense Hartley said the team enjoyed thoroughly.

“It’s always nice to have some bragging rights,” Hartley said. “We really wanted to win it again after we won it last year.

“We came in with the feeling that we had to win it and played with a lot of confidence.”

As the season wound down, the Warriors found themselves in the thick of the TRC race, finishing fourth overall, and advanced to the sectional final against hosts Oak Hill.

Despite not being able to snag a sectional crown, Hartley said the team felt good about getting to the final.

“Coming into the sectional, we felt that we were preparing for Oak Hill in the end but we couldn’t overlook teams,” Hartley said. “The game with Wabash was close in the regular season, so we had to be ready for that game.

“We were pretty satisfied with how things went. Our defense in the second quarter against Oak Hill was really good and we were happy with that, even though we didn’t win in the end.”

Hartley said ahead of the next season more consistent scoring on the floor would help the team as a whole improve upon the 2017-18 season.

“We do need to work on our shooting as we need it to be a little more consistent,” Hartley said. “Our zone defense got better as the year went on but we need to work on communicating more while we’re in it.

“Individually, I want to work on my ball handling more and want to shoot better than 85 percent from the line next year. I don’t want to miss as many from the line as I did this season.”

From his viewpoint, McClure said Hartley made huge strides as a junior and wanted to see even more ahead of next season.

“Most definitely,” McClure said when asked if Hartley showed growth in her game. “She’s an outstanding student, person and athlete and the more basketball she plays, the better she gets.

“All those things have helped her develop her skills because she has a solid foundation from which to build from. She’s just starting to discover her gifts as a basketball player.

“I would like Adria to stay on the improvement trend she’s established for herself,” McClure added. “Her contributions make herself better and her teammates better.

“As she gets more confidence in her game, those attributes will magnify.”

With a few tweaks and steady growth, Hartley said the team could shine even brighter when she takes the floor as a senior next year.

“This year was a better season than the previous two seasons,” Hartley said. “We beat some teams that the school hasn’t beaten in years but there is definitely room for improvement ahead of next season.

“We can be better in the conference next year and should be able to be a top-three team. We also want to continue improving our overall record and get out of the sectional.”

Peru Tribune All-Miami County Basketball Team

POY: Adria Hartley (North Miami)

G: Courtlynn Crowe (Peru)

G: Bailey Keim (North Miami)

G: Madison Wilson (Maconaquah)

F: Caily Bolser (North Miami)

F: Harmoni Stone (Peru)