News and Tribune

March 21, 2014

GIRLS' BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Charlestown’s Henning earns top honor

Pirate junior averaged 19 points, shot 54 percent from the field

By GREG MENGELT
greg.mengelt@newsandtribune.com

CHARLESTOWN — Charlestown junior guard Kaitlynn Henning averaged 19.8 points per game, shot 54 percent from the field and 44 percent from the 3-point line. She’s a strong defender and a revered teammate.

There’s only one thing holding Henning back from being greater and helping the Pirates reach new heights, first-year Pirate coach Michael Prichard said. She needs to be a little more selfish.

“I’m hoping next year she [averages] 25 to 28 [points],” Prichard said. “She won’t take bad shots, but she needs to take more shots. She averaged 13 shots a game. I’d like her to take 18 to 20.”

“I think she likes to get everyone involved,” senior teammate Megan Brooks said. “She’s not cocky at all. She’s a leader. She’s amazing.”

The problem is Henning would prefer to get other Pirates involved in the offense.

“All kinds of people tell me that I need to shoot more, but I like to get the ball to my teammates,” she explained. “I guess I do need to work on shooting more.”

Despite her coach’s criticism, Henning is the News and Tribune’s choice as the 2013-14 Player of the Year.

“I think it’s a great big accomplishment,” Henning said of the honor. “I’ve been working for this my whole life. It’s an experience that I like to live and I’m just grateful that I got this.”

Henning was outstanding all season, scoring in double-figures in every game but one. She was at her best at the end of the year.

With the exception of a Feb. 4 win over Rock Creek in which she only played a few minutes, Henning scored at least 18 points in 13 consecutive games. She shot over 50 percent in 13 of her final 14 games of 2014 with the exception being an 8 for 18 night in a 65-58 loss to New Albany.

“She’s the best shooter I have seen when wide open,” Prichard said.

“She’s the spark to everything,” Brooks added. “When the ball’s in her hands, I know it’s always taken care of.”

Henning didn’t only shine on the offensive end. She averaged 2.9 steals per contest and had some standout defensive performance, including holding Corydon Central star Marie Rothrock to seven points.

“She’s an undervalued defender,” Prichard said. “Kaitlynn can defend.”

“Defense is something you have to work hard at,” Henning said. “It’s toughness. A big key to it is getting into passing lanes. Once you do, you likely will get some steals and some easy layups.”

Henning rose to the occasion in the Pirates’ biggest games. In their first signature win of the year — a 76-62 upset of Scottsburg — she went 13 for 18 for 33 points. She knocked down three of her four 3-point attempts, had four steals and a pair of assists. She went over 1,000 points with 7 for 12, 20-point performance in a 59-45 win over North Harrison in Charlestown’s regular-season finale.

In the sectional, Henning had games of 28, 20 and 18 in helping Charlestown into the championship game before the Pirates fell to Madison in the title game.

“The pressure is something I like to put on myself,” she said. “The big games are exciting. That’s when I like to perform my best.”

“She’s a competitor,” Prichard said. “She wants to do well and I think she’s conscious of her performance and she knows when games are big. She really doesn’t get caught up in the moment. Her demeanor is almost always the same.”

In Henning’s three seasons, the Pirates have gone from four wins her freshman year to 10 last season to 15 in Charlestown’s first campaign under Prichard. Although Prichard certainly gets his share of credit for the turnaround in 2013-14, he said the process was made easier by having a player like Henning who he could count on every night.

“It’s nice to have someone who’s pretty dependable,” Prichard said. “It was nice to have someone who can put points on the board and you can always count on that. You’re almost always going to get about 20 [points] with her. It’s a reassuring feeling, from that standpoint.”

Charlestown will lose several key players to graduation this spring, including Brooks, but with Henning and classmate Justice Burdin returning next season, Charlestown expects to have a Mid-Southern Conference and sectional contender in 2014-15.

“We want to continue to improve on what we started this year,” Prichard said. “The expectations are still high.”

“We’re losing some big seniors,” Henning noted. “I’m going to have to become more of a voal leader and leader on the court.”



NEWS AND TRIBUNE 2013-14 ALL-AREA TEAM

FIRST TEAM


• Kaitlyn Henning, Charlestown Jr. (Player of the Year)

• Aurreeshae Hines, Jeffersonville, Sr.

• Ashley Johnson, New Washington Sr.

• Natalie Ruedinger, Borden So.

• Haley Vogen, Jeffersonville Sr.



SECOND TEAM

• Justice Burdin, Charlestown Jr.

• Emily Hollis, Henryville So.

• Madison Kaiser, Floyd Central Jr.

• Brittany Knight, New Albany Sr.

• Claire Rauck, Providence Fr.



THIRD TEAM

• Katie Ernstberger, Eastern Sr.

• Brooke Hinton, Floyd Central Sr.

• Riley Kaiser, Floyd Central, Sr.

• Shelby Kirchgessner, Borden Sr.

• Taylor Sykes, Jeffersonville So.



    Honorable mention: Brooke Abbott, New Washington; Courtney Amick, New Washington; Alexis Barnett, Silver Creek; Megan Brooks, Charlestown; Allison Burch, Christian Academy; Lauren Camm, New Albany; Carson Casey, Borden; Abby Ellis, Borden; Rachel Hamilton, Eastern; Claire Hirsch, New Albany; Haley Huddleston, Henryville; Haley Jenkins, Clarksville Sr.; Chelsea Lewis, Jeffersonville; Brooke Rodewig, Eastern; Kelsi Scott, Silver Creek.

    Coach of the Year: Mike Warren, Jeffersonville.