Tipton Phillips

Tipton guard Gracie Phillips, shown putting up a shot in a regional victory over Monroe Central last season, is the Blue Devils’ lone returning starter.

Tipton’s girls basketball team has a new look following the graduation of a big senior class that included Cassidy Crawford, who closed her career with a Tipton County-record 1,816 points.

The Blue Devils went 21-6 last season with Crawford scoring an area-best 22.6 points per game and classmate Kelsey Mitchell backing her with 14.4 points. Crawford made the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association’s Senior All-State Supreme 15 team.

The Blue Devils return just one starter, 5-foot-5 guard Gracie Phillips. She is the team’s lone senior.

“This year we have started kiddingly referring to our team as the ‘youth movement,’” Tipton coach Chad Wetz said. “We have only one upperclassman that we are blending with 12 freshmen and sophomores so practice has been very fresh but also very exciting.”

Phillips has helped the Blue Devils win two straight Class 2A Sectional 39 titles. Last season, she averaged 5.6 points and 2.4 assists per game. She was No. 3 on the team in scoring and No. 2 in assists.

“She brings the experience we will need as she has started and played a ton for the last three years,” Wetz said. “We will lean on her leadership when the games get tough.”

The Blue Devils also return three sophomores who contributed as freshmen last season: guard/forward Abigail Parker (4.7 points), forward Olivia Spidel (2.3) and guard Ella Wolfe (1.5). They’ll move into bigger roles.

Wetz sees 6-2 freshman center Ashlee Schram as a key addition. Also moving into varsity roles are sophomore guard Lainey Armes, sophomore guard/forward Joni Ripberger and sophomore forward Macy Earl.

“This year’s team plays with a ton of passion for the game and the young players have been in our feeder system since elementary so they are coming in with a vision of what they want to accomplish and help carry on our rich tradition,” Wetz said.

Wetz points to quickness on defense as a potential strength. He hopes to combine ball pressure on the perimeter with Schram’s rim protection.

“We will need to rely on our defense to help keep us in games as we search for a way to make up over 45 points in lost offense due to graduation and attrition,” he said.

Tipton plays in the Hoosier Conference’s East Division and in Class 2A Sectional 39. Eastbrook is the sectional host and the field also has Blackford, Madison-Grant and Taylor.

“The conference will continue to go through Northwestern as long as there are Laydens on the bench and roster,” Wetz said, “but I believe we have a legitimate chance to three-peat as Sectional 39 champions if we have a season of continued improvement from the beginning to end. The expected tough matchup in Sectional 39 would be Eastbrook.”

Last year, Tipton beat Taylor and Eastbrook to win the sectional title. Tipton went on to reach a regional final where it fell to eventual state champion Oak Hill.

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