Brooke Winchester Wins Times-Union Girls Player Of The Year

March 20, 2024 at 6:05 p.m.
Warsaw junior Brooke Winchester takes a hard foul during the Lady Tigers' sectional game against Northridge. Photo by Gary Nieter
Warsaw junior Brooke Winchester takes a hard foul during the Lady Tigers' sectional game against Northridge. Photo by Gary Nieter

By CONNOR MCCANN Sports Editor

A scorer that can get it done down low as well as at the three point line. A prolific rebounder that nearly averaged a double-double for the season. One of the leaders on a team that went undefeated in the Northern Lakes Conference for the third straight campaign. These are just some of the qualities of Warsaw junior forward Brooke Winchester, who has been selected as the 2024 Times-Union Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Winchester is coming off of a terrific season in which she averaged 15.4 points a night while shooting 52% from the field and 37% from deep. She grabbed 209 rebounds on the year, 119 more than any other Lady Tiger, averaging 9.5 boards a game and putting up 10 double-doubles. Her 51 assists and 43 steals were both good enough to finish top three on the team. The forward credits her mental growth as a big reason for this year’s successes.
“For me, a lot of it came from gaining confidence and stepping into my role. Knowing that if we wanted to get something done I could make it happen,” she said. “I think also embracing a leadership role really made a difference. I feel like on the court one of my biggest strengths is being vocal, communicating with my teammates on what we need to do to succeed.”
Winchester is the latest breakout star in a line of some fantastic athletes. Her mother Kristi played basketball at Valparaiso and coached Brooke from 4th to 8th grade. Her older brother Russell is finishing up his redshirt freshman year as an Indiana State football player after being a varsity athlete both on the gridiron and the court at Warsaw. Brooke credits her love of the game to her older brother, citing that most of her time growing up was spent shooting hoops with him in the driveway.
“Eventually it got to a point where I was going out to play by myself and my love for the game just kept growing more and more,” she said.
Winchester’s best performance this past season came on the biggest stage, in Warsaw’s first round sectional game against Northridge. While the result wasn’t what the Lady Tigers were looking for, Winchester was fantastic, scoring 22 of her team’s 55 points while grabbing 19 rebounds. Perhaps most impressive of all, the forward played all 32 minutes.

    Winchester sneaks past Kyndra Sheets of Columbia City to score a tough basket. Photo by Gary Nieter


“I think Brooke’s biggest improvement has come in how hard she plays and the duration in which she’s able to maintain that high level of energy. I go back to the Northridge game, she’s huffing and puffing, asking for a breather and I’m just ignoring her,” Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs said. “She’s learned that she doesn’t need to pace herself, she can go all in all the time. She’s always had the talent and the skill but her work ethic is really what makes me so proud.”
Winchester agreed that the sectional contest was one of the brightest moments of her career so far.
“I felt so dominant in that game. I kept asking my teammates to give me the ball because I knew they couldn’t guard me,” Winchester added. “Everyone loves to look at points but I feel like rebounding is really underrated. If a ball goes up, I’m going to go for that board no matter what.”
Warsaw basketball and its fans are not the only ones to have noticed Winchester’s dominance. The junior committed to spend her college years playing basketball at Ball State before her junior year season tipped off. Winchester is excited to make the jump to the next level and says that making her commitment so early in her career has cleared her mind to focus on playing with the Lady Tigers.
“It’s taken a weight off my shoulder, I can just go play, get better and mold myself into the player that Ball State has recruited me to be,” she said. “I’m excited to stay in Indiana and the fact that my parents get to see both me and my brother play in college is really awesome.”
Heading into her senior year, Winchester’s goals are simple. She wants revenge in the sectional field and states that her main goal is to bring a sectional trophy back to Warsaw. Individually, she’s focused on becoming the best player she can be and giving it 100% each and every night. Coach Krebs was a fan of that answer.
“Something that stands out to me is the difference in Brooke’s maturity from when she started playing varsity as a freshman. If you asked her three years ago what her individual goals were she would probably blurt out a number or a statistic because that’s how those young kids are,” Krebs said. “But right now she’s saying she wants to be the best player she can be, and that makes me so happy because she understands the process. She understands that if she’s the best she can be, everything else will take care of itself, and that’s more than just in basketball. To hear her get that mindset shift, if she can continue to do that, Ball State is getting a special kid.”
The Times-Union would like to congratulate Brooke on her fantastic season and wish her the best of luck as she heads into her senior year.

Times-Union All-Area Team
F Brooke Winchester (Warsaw Jr.)

This year’s Player of the Year put together a fantastic season scoring the ball from all levels, rebounding at an extraordinary high clip while serving as a leader for the Lady Tigers as they cruised their way to their third straight conference title. In three years at Warsaw, the junior has never lost a Northern Lakes Conference game.
G Brooke Zartman (Warsaw So.)

  


Making the team for the second time in as many years, Brooke Zartman put together another fantastic year for the Lady Tigers, leading the team in scoring at 16.3 PPG as well as steals with 2.4 a night. An outstanding shooter, Zartman made 83 three pointers this season, smashing the school record of 66 that she set last year as a freshman. Nobody on Warsaw made half as many threes as she did, and she shot the long ball at a 45% clip. But she’s more than just an outside shooter, showcasing many times over the course of the season that she has expanded her game and will be a force to be reckoned with over the next two years of her career.
G Josyln Bricker (Warsaw So.)

    

Few players in the area showed as much toughness as Joslyn Bricker this season. Breaking her nose towards the end of the campaign, the sophomore missed minimal time before returning to action with a facemask. Her 16.2 PPG were good enough for second on the team, which she also led in assists with just over three a night. She finished second on the team in both rebounds and steals, doing it all for a very successful Lady Tigers squad. Bricker is the type of player that any coach would want on their team, doing all the little things while serving as the motor that gets a team going.
F Ava Egolf (Tippecanoe Valley Sr.)

   Transferring your senior year can be a difficult experience, but it was one Ava Egolf made the most of. Leaving Warsaw to go to Tippecanoe Valley, Egolf excelled in her role for the Lady Vikings, averaging 13.5 PPG and scoring more than double the points as anyone else on the roster. She also led the team in rebounding by grabbing five a night and stole the ball 2.6 times a game. She played some of her best ball when the stakes were the highest, averaging 18.5 points in Valley’s two sectional contests.
F Addyson Viers (Triton Sr.)

    

Addyson Viers put together a great senior season for Triton this past winter, averaging 17.4 PPG and nine rebounds a night for a Lady Trojans side that made it to the championship game of sectionals. She was also one of the top defensive players in the area, averaging three blocks a night and defending the rim with authority. Viers scored 240 more points than Triton’s next leading scorer, and was able to get it done from anywhere on the court. While fans are likely to remember her post moves and craftiness down low, she was also second on the team in three-point percentage as well.
G Kloe Krieg (Whitko Sr.)

*Krieg is pictured guarding Manchester guard Brookelynn Buzzard below*
Kloe Krieg’s senior year was a memorable one, as she was a leader on a Whitko team that won the Three Rivers Conference and made it to a sectional title game. Averaging just over eleven points per contest while finishing top three in nearly every other statistic for the Lady ‘Cats, Krieg was fantastic in her senior year, and played a large role in one of the best seasons in Whitko history.
G Brookelynn Buzzard (Manchester Jr.)

    Manchester junior Brookelynn Buzzard tries to get around Whitko's Kloe Krieg.

Brookelynn Buzzard was another two-way player that got it done on both ends this season, leading the Lady Squires with 14.8 PPG, dishing out the most assists at just under four a night, while tying for the team lead in steals per contest at just under two. The volume scorer was not shy about getting shots up this season but the results speak for themselves, as Buzzard continues to grow her overall game while enjoying some team success, as Manchester more than doubled its win total from last season.
F Mackenzie Hackleman (Wawasee Jr.)

    

When your team plays a team-oriented style of ball, it can be hard to stick out, but for the second straight year, Mackenzie Hackleman has done enough to make it onto the all-area team. Leading the Warriors in points per game (11.3), assists (2.2) steals (a staggering 4.0) and blocks (1.7) while finishing second in rebounds (4.5), Hackleman was the do-it-all type of player that was a large factor in leading Wawasee to its second straight third place finish in the NLC.
G Chesnee Miller (Tippecanoe Valley Sr.)

    

Offense may be what catches the eye first when discussing what makes a great basketball player, but the defense of Chesnee Miller speaks for itself. Guarding the opposing team’s best player night in and night out was the norm for Miller throughout her career, and her senior year was no different. An all-state cross country runner in the fall, Miller used her stamina and quick feet to make the lives of opponents incredibly difficult over the course of the season, averaging 3.6 steals a game. While she didn’t look to take shots of her own very often, she was efficient when she did, finishing second on the Lady Vikings in field goal percentage.
G Jayma Stonebreaker (Whitko Fr.)

      

The lone freshman on this year’s list, Jayma Stonebreaker burst onto the scene in her first year of varsity basketball, leaving no question as to whether or not she belongs. The ninth grader led the TRC champions in scoring (11.7 PPG), field goal percentage (53%), steals (3.0) and three-point percentage (42%) while also finishing top two in assists and top three in rebounds. If Stonebreaker’s freshman year was any indication of the type of player she can become, Whitko fans will surely be excited to watch her grow.
Congratulations once again to all athletes selected! All photos by Gary Nieter.

A scorer that can get it done down low as well as at the three point line. A prolific rebounder that nearly averaged a double-double for the season. One of the leaders on a team that went undefeated in the Northern Lakes Conference for the third straight campaign. These are just some of the qualities of Warsaw junior forward Brooke Winchester, who has been selected as the 2024 Times-Union Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Winchester is coming off of a terrific season in which she averaged 15.4 points a night while shooting 52% from the field and 37% from deep. She grabbed 209 rebounds on the year, 119 more than any other Lady Tiger, averaging 9.5 boards a game and putting up 10 double-doubles. Her 51 assists and 43 steals were both good enough to finish top three on the team. The forward credits her mental growth as a big reason for this year’s successes.
“For me, a lot of it came from gaining confidence and stepping into my role. Knowing that if we wanted to get something done I could make it happen,” she said. “I think also embracing a leadership role really made a difference. I feel like on the court one of my biggest strengths is being vocal, communicating with my teammates on what we need to do to succeed.”
Winchester is the latest breakout star in a line of some fantastic athletes. Her mother Kristi played basketball at Valparaiso and coached Brooke from 4th to 8th grade. Her older brother Russell is finishing up his redshirt freshman year as an Indiana State football player after being a varsity athlete both on the gridiron and the court at Warsaw. Brooke credits her love of the game to her older brother, citing that most of her time growing up was spent shooting hoops with him in the driveway.
“Eventually it got to a point where I was going out to play by myself and my love for the game just kept growing more and more,” she said.
Winchester’s best performance this past season came on the biggest stage, in Warsaw’s first round sectional game against Northridge. While the result wasn’t what the Lady Tigers were looking for, Winchester was fantastic, scoring 22 of her team’s 55 points while grabbing 19 rebounds. Perhaps most impressive of all, the forward played all 32 minutes.

    Winchester sneaks past Kyndra Sheets of Columbia City to score a tough basket. Photo by Gary Nieter


“I think Brooke’s biggest improvement has come in how hard she plays and the duration in which she’s able to maintain that high level of energy. I go back to the Northridge game, she’s huffing and puffing, asking for a breather and I’m just ignoring her,” Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs said. “She’s learned that she doesn’t need to pace herself, she can go all in all the time. She’s always had the talent and the skill but her work ethic is really what makes me so proud.”
Winchester agreed that the sectional contest was one of the brightest moments of her career so far.
“I felt so dominant in that game. I kept asking my teammates to give me the ball because I knew they couldn’t guard me,” Winchester added. “Everyone loves to look at points but I feel like rebounding is really underrated. If a ball goes up, I’m going to go for that board no matter what.”
Warsaw basketball and its fans are not the only ones to have noticed Winchester’s dominance. The junior committed to spend her college years playing basketball at Ball State before her junior year season tipped off. Winchester is excited to make the jump to the next level and says that making her commitment so early in her career has cleared her mind to focus on playing with the Lady Tigers.
“It’s taken a weight off my shoulder, I can just go play, get better and mold myself into the player that Ball State has recruited me to be,” she said. “I’m excited to stay in Indiana and the fact that my parents get to see both me and my brother play in college is really awesome.”
Heading into her senior year, Winchester’s goals are simple. She wants revenge in the sectional field and states that her main goal is to bring a sectional trophy back to Warsaw. Individually, she’s focused on becoming the best player she can be and giving it 100% each and every night. Coach Krebs was a fan of that answer.
“Something that stands out to me is the difference in Brooke’s maturity from when she started playing varsity as a freshman. If you asked her three years ago what her individual goals were she would probably blurt out a number or a statistic because that’s how those young kids are,” Krebs said. “But right now she’s saying she wants to be the best player she can be, and that makes me so happy because she understands the process. She understands that if she’s the best she can be, everything else will take care of itself, and that’s more than just in basketball. To hear her get that mindset shift, if she can continue to do that, Ball State is getting a special kid.”
The Times-Union would like to congratulate Brooke on her fantastic season and wish her the best of luck as she heads into her senior year.

Times-Union All-Area Team
F Brooke Winchester (Warsaw Jr.)

This year’s Player of the Year put together a fantastic season scoring the ball from all levels, rebounding at an extraordinary high clip while serving as a leader for the Lady Tigers as they cruised their way to their third straight conference title. In three years at Warsaw, the junior has never lost a Northern Lakes Conference game.
G Brooke Zartman (Warsaw So.)

  


Making the team for the second time in as many years, Brooke Zartman put together another fantastic year for the Lady Tigers, leading the team in scoring at 16.3 PPG as well as steals with 2.4 a night. An outstanding shooter, Zartman made 83 three pointers this season, smashing the school record of 66 that she set last year as a freshman. Nobody on Warsaw made half as many threes as she did, and she shot the long ball at a 45% clip. But she’s more than just an outside shooter, showcasing many times over the course of the season that she has expanded her game and will be a force to be reckoned with over the next two years of her career.
G Josyln Bricker (Warsaw So.)

    

Few players in the area showed as much toughness as Joslyn Bricker this season. Breaking her nose towards the end of the campaign, the sophomore missed minimal time before returning to action with a facemask. Her 16.2 PPG were good enough for second on the team, which she also led in assists with just over three a night. She finished second on the team in both rebounds and steals, doing it all for a very successful Lady Tigers squad. Bricker is the type of player that any coach would want on their team, doing all the little things while serving as the motor that gets a team going.
F Ava Egolf (Tippecanoe Valley Sr.)

   Transferring your senior year can be a difficult experience, but it was one Ava Egolf made the most of. Leaving Warsaw to go to Tippecanoe Valley, Egolf excelled in her role for the Lady Vikings, averaging 13.5 PPG and scoring more than double the points as anyone else on the roster. She also led the team in rebounding by grabbing five a night and stole the ball 2.6 times a game. She played some of her best ball when the stakes were the highest, averaging 18.5 points in Valley’s two sectional contests.
F Addyson Viers (Triton Sr.)

    

Addyson Viers put together a great senior season for Triton this past winter, averaging 17.4 PPG and nine rebounds a night for a Lady Trojans side that made it to the championship game of sectionals. She was also one of the top defensive players in the area, averaging three blocks a night and defending the rim with authority. Viers scored 240 more points than Triton’s next leading scorer, and was able to get it done from anywhere on the court. While fans are likely to remember her post moves and craftiness down low, she was also second on the team in three-point percentage as well.
G Kloe Krieg (Whitko Sr.)

*Krieg is pictured guarding Manchester guard Brookelynn Buzzard below*
Kloe Krieg’s senior year was a memorable one, as she was a leader on a Whitko team that won the Three Rivers Conference and made it to a sectional title game. Averaging just over eleven points per contest while finishing top three in nearly every other statistic for the Lady ‘Cats, Krieg was fantastic in her senior year, and played a large role in one of the best seasons in Whitko history.
G Brookelynn Buzzard (Manchester Jr.)

    Manchester junior Brookelynn Buzzard tries to get around Whitko's Kloe Krieg.

Brookelynn Buzzard was another two-way player that got it done on both ends this season, leading the Lady Squires with 14.8 PPG, dishing out the most assists at just under four a night, while tying for the team lead in steals per contest at just under two. The volume scorer was not shy about getting shots up this season but the results speak for themselves, as Buzzard continues to grow her overall game while enjoying some team success, as Manchester more than doubled its win total from last season.
F Mackenzie Hackleman (Wawasee Jr.)

    

When your team plays a team-oriented style of ball, it can be hard to stick out, but for the second straight year, Mackenzie Hackleman has done enough to make it onto the all-area team. Leading the Warriors in points per game (11.3), assists (2.2) steals (a staggering 4.0) and blocks (1.7) while finishing second in rebounds (4.5), Hackleman was the do-it-all type of player that was a large factor in leading Wawasee to its second straight third place finish in the NLC.
G Chesnee Miller (Tippecanoe Valley Sr.)

    

Offense may be what catches the eye first when discussing what makes a great basketball player, but the defense of Chesnee Miller speaks for itself. Guarding the opposing team’s best player night in and night out was the norm for Miller throughout her career, and her senior year was no different. An all-state cross country runner in the fall, Miller used her stamina and quick feet to make the lives of opponents incredibly difficult over the course of the season, averaging 3.6 steals a game. While she didn’t look to take shots of her own very often, she was efficient when she did, finishing second on the Lady Vikings in field goal percentage.
G Jayma Stonebreaker (Whitko Fr.)

      

The lone freshman on this year’s list, Jayma Stonebreaker burst onto the scene in her first year of varsity basketball, leaving no question as to whether or not she belongs. The ninth grader led the TRC champions in scoring (11.7 PPG), field goal percentage (53%), steals (3.0) and three-point percentage (42%) while also finishing top two in assists and top three in rebounds. If Stonebreaker’s freshman year was any indication of the type of player she can become, Whitko fans will surely be excited to watch her grow.
Congratulations once again to all athletes selected! All photos by Gary Nieter.

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