Betten’s Standout Season Earns Him Player Of The Year Honors

March 21, 2024 at 6:20 p.m.
Manchester junior and 2024 Times-Union Boys Basketball Player of the Year Gavin Betten survey’s the court as Whitko’s Sam Essegian defends.
Manchester junior and 2024 Times-Union Boys Basketball Player of the Year Gavin Betten survey’s the court as Whitko’s Sam Essegian defends.

By CONNOR MCCANN Sports Editor

Bursting onto the scene as a freshman three years ago, Manchester junior forward Gavin Betten has gotten better in each year of his high school career. This season was his best yet, as the big man averaged a double-double, led the Squires in almost every major statistic and was a key factor in Manchester winning its first Three Rivers Conference title since the 2014-15 season. When you put all of these together, Betten is an obvious choice for the 2024 Times-Union Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
On the 18-5, TRC Champion Squire Squad, Betten led the team in points per game (20.8), field goal percentage (58%), rebounds (10.7), and blocks (3.0), while finishing second on the team in assists (3.9) and third in steals (2.1). If you’ve watched Betten play in person, this shouldn’t surprise you. The forward controls the game with ease on both ends of the floor, using his crafty footwork to get around defenders with ease on one side while using his fantastic timing and length on the other to make life for offenses incredibly frustrating.
“I’ve been working in the gym with my dad ever since I was a young kid, and his biggest thing has always been post moves and footwork,” Betten said. “I always knew I was going to be tall and a paint player so practicing every day, learning something new has really helped me in that aspect of the game.”
A lot of players that make the jump from middle school to varsity basketball take some time to adjust to how much quicker the game flows as well as the skill gap between the two levels. Betten is an exception. In his first ever varsity game, the ninth grader put up 16 points and 19 rebounds in a win over Bluffton. It would be the start of a fantastic freshman campaign in which the forward would lead the team in scoring (18.8 PPG) as well as rebounding (10.2). Betten cites that first game as the moment he knew he belonged.
“I didn’t think I was going to play that well going into my first game but when I put up those 19 rebounds, that was the most I had ever grabbed in a game at that point in my career,” he said. “So that’s when I was kind of like OK I can hang with these guys.”
“Whenever you have a freshman come out, especially a post player, that’s tough. Especially considering the speed of the game when you go from 8th grade ball to even JV, let alone varsity,” Manchester head coach Eli Henson added. “But his ability to continue to improve his footwork, and really every aspect of his game, is what sets him apart. When you see a kid go out there as a freshman and average 18 points, you know you’ve got something special.”

    Betten rises up for a breakaway dunk.

Betten credits playing AAU basketball from the third grade and onward as being a main factor in getting him ready for that varsity leap.
“AAU is probably the best thing that me and my parents ever decided to do,” he said. “It exposes you to a whole different level of basketball and a whole different level of guys. It’s a blessing to be a part of an AAU program.”
While the physical attributes have always been there, Betten says his basketball IQ improving has been the most beneficial to his game growing over the course of his three years at Manchester. The junior mentioned his midrange game as well as being able to create shots off the dribble as areas he’d like to improve in.
“I feel like my IQ has really helped take my game to the next level. Being able to pass the ball and create open looks for the guys on my team is really something I take pride in,” Betten said. “I want to improve my dribbling as well. I feel like I can get the ball up the court pretty well but if I had the guard-like handles that I want I can be even better than I am right now.”
Henson was not shy in praising his star player, mentioning his work ethic and desire to get better not only as a high school player, but as an athlete preparing to make the step to the next level as what really separates him from the rest.
“He’s always trying to improve different aspects of his game, his footwork, his shot, his passing, he really wants to be a player that does it all. And when you think about the high school game and the way he plays, he knows his role when he gets to college is going to be completely different than what it is now. So when we get together, we’re not just working on stuff that’s going to make him successful next year, we’re trying to make sure he’s successful for the next five years,” Henson said. “We lose in the sectional and that next Monday he wants to get back to work. Basketball is his passion, it’s his love and it shows in his work ethic.
“The one thing I’d really like to see him work on is being more vocal. If he talks those guys are going to listen,” Henson said. “He’s earned that right, him and Ethan Hendrix who is another guy that is crucial to our success. If he wants to hold these guys accountable, they will follow.”
That work ethic is contagious, according to Henson, and a big reason why the Squires have had the team success they’ve had over the past few years. But the regular season wins have not translated to postseason victories just yet, making Betten’s number one goal for his senior year to bring a sectional title back to North Manchester. Along with that, the junior wants to repeat as TRC champions without having to share the title this time around. As for individual goals, he wants to reach the 2,000 point and 1,000 rebound threshold, a goal that is definitely in reach if he keeps up his current pace. Henson believes that he has all the tools necessary to become an Indiana All-Star.
“He can be as good as what he wants to be. If he wants to be a Division I player, he can be. There’s really no ceiling for him,” Henson said. “He’s going to be one of the best players of the state next year and he shouldn’t settle for anything less. I don’t see why he can’t be an Indiana All-Star. He’s been around 20 points for the last three years but he’s capable of going out and averaging 30.”
Betten is also a member of the Manchester golf team, saying he uses golf, fishing and video games as a way to get his mind off of basketball. He currently has three college offers from Grace College, Indiana Wesleyan and Huntington University and has been contacted by countless other schools. He plans on making his decision before his senior season.

Times-Union All-Area Boys Team
F Gavin Betten (Manchester Jr.)

If Betten continues the pace he is on, it’s hard to imagine him being dethroned of the top-player spot his senior year. The junior forward’s tremendous junior season is surely a sign of things to come as he prepares to make the jump to the next level. The Times-Union would like to congratulate Gavin on his spectacular year.
G Luke Bricker (Warsaw Jr.)

    

Luke Bricker was fantastic all season long for a Warsaw team that was finally able to get over the hump and bring home a sectional championship. Bricker averaged just under 16 points a night at 15.9 and was a top rebounder for the Tigers. Bricker stepped up his game when it mattered most, scoring 36 in two sectional games, including 10 in the fourth quarter of the championship contest against Penn. He’s sure to be a key factor for a Tiger side that will be looking to make another deep postseason run next winter.
F Brandt Martin (Warsaw Jr.)

    

Brandt Martin was another junior that contributed a ton on a Warsaw team that was stacked with eleventh graders. Averaging 13.6 PPG, Martin was able to catch fire as well as anyone in the area, leading the Tigers in scoring on multiple occasions. An efficient scorer as well, Martin shot 61% on his two pointers and 37% from deep. A stout defender, Martin did a great job protecting both the paint and perimeter this season. He will look to continue his insane improvement rate heading into his senior year.
G Kyler Krull (Whitko Sr.)

   One of the best scorers in the area, Kyler Krull had a fantastic senior season for a Whitko team that was the most improved in the entire state. Krull was a big factor in the Wildcats’ resurgence, averaging 18.4 PPG on 58% shooting, both team highs. A tall guard standing at 6’7”, Krull also led the team in blocks with 1.3 a contest. Krull reached the 1,000 point threshold for his career back in January.
F Sam Essegian (Whitko Sr.)

   Sam Essegian’s first and only year in the Times-Union coverage area was a memorable one. Transferring to Whitko from Central Noble, Essegian made an immediate impact for the Wildcats, averaging 14.1 PPG on 55% shooting while leading Whitko in rebounding (7.8), assists (4.8), and steals (1.4). Essegian elevated his game even further in the playoffs, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in Whitko’s upset win over Manchester and then following it up with 17 points in the Wildcats’ sectional semifinal loss to Bishop Luers.
G Ethan Hendrix (Manchester Jr.)

    

With a lot of attention going to Betten this season, Ethan Hendrix went under the radar as one of the best guards in the area. Averaging 12.8 points a game, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists, all top-three marks on the team, Hendrix was just as good on the defensive end, leading the team with 3.2 steals a night. The hardest working player Eli Henson has ever coached according to the man himself, Hendrix is in position to have an even bigger role for the Squires as a senior next year.
F Stephen Akase (Tippecanoe Valley So.)

    

The youngest player on this list, Stephen Akase made tremendous strides in his sophomore year at Valley, leading the team with 13.6 PPG on 61% shooting as well as grabbing 8.2 boards a night. A tremendous player in the paint, Akase is incredibly hard to guard and is fantastic at finding angles down low to get his shot to fall. With two more years of ball in his high school career to go, the sky's the limit for Akase as he continues to show rapid improvement.
F Tanner Witt-Hoyo (Triton Jr.)

   

A tremendous two-way player that did a little bit of everything for a great Triton team, Tanner Witt-Hoyo averaged over 12 points a night on an extremely efficient 64% shooting clip in his junior season while also being the team’s leader in rebounding. The forward was also top three on the team in assists and steals.
G Maddux Everingham (Wawasee Jr.)

    

Maddux Everingham had a great season for Wawasee, and not even a facial injury suffered in February against Northridge was able to keep him off the court for long. Everingham missed just two games due to the injury, and was a fantastic player when he was on the court. Second on the team in scoring at 14.6 PPG, that was about the only category he didn’t lead the team in, as Everingham paced the Warriors in rebounding (4.6) as well as assists with 77 and steals with 29.
F Luke Yeager (Warsaw Sr.)

    

The lone senior on Warsaw this season ended up being one of the most valuable players on the team. Luke Yeager averaged eight points a game but his impact went far beyond the box score. Using every inch of his 6’8” frame, Yeager was a defensive mainstay for the Tigers and got better as the season went along. He was always quick to exploit a mismatch and while he finished with 35 blocks on the season, the amount of shots he affected throughout the campaign can not be measured.

All photos are by Gary Nieter.

Bursting onto the scene as a freshman three years ago, Manchester junior forward Gavin Betten has gotten better in each year of his high school career. This season was his best yet, as the big man averaged a double-double, led the Squires in almost every major statistic and was a key factor in Manchester winning its first Three Rivers Conference title since the 2014-15 season. When you put all of these together, Betten is an obvious choice for the 2024 Times-Union Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
On the 18-5, TRC Champion Squire Squad, Betten led the team in points per game (20.8), field goal percentage (58%), rebounds (10.7), and blocks (3.0), while finishing second on the team in assists (3.9) and third in steals (2.1). If you’ve watched Betten play in person, this shouldn’t surprise you. The forward controls the game with ease on both ends of the floor, using his crafty footwork to get around defenders with ease on one side while using his fantastic timing and length on the other to make life for offenses incredibly frustrating.
“I’ve been working in the gym with my dad ever since I was a young kid, and his biggest thing has always been post moves and footwork,” Betten said. “I always knew I was going to be tall and a paint player so practicing every day, learning something new has really helped me in that aspect of the game.”
A lot of players that make the jump from middle school to varsity basketball take some time to adjust to how much quicker the game flows as well as the skill gap between the two levels. Betten is an exception. In his first ever varsity game, the ninth grader put up 16 points and 19 rebounds in a win over Bluffton. It would be the start of a fantastic freshman campaign in which the forward would lead the team in scoring (18.8 PPG) as well as rebounding (10.2). Betten cites that first game as the moment he knew he belonged.
“I didn’t think I was going to play that well going into my first game but when I put up those 19 rebounds, that was the most I had ever grabbed in a game at that point in my career,” he said. “So that’s when I was kind of like OK I can hang with these guys.”
“Whenever you have a freshman come out, especially a post player, that’s tough. Especially considering the speed of the game when you go from 8th grade ball to even JV, let alone varsity,” Manchester head coach Eli Henson added. “But his ability to continue to improve his footwork, and really every aspect of his game, is what sets him apart. When you see a kid go out there as a freshman and average 18 points, you know you’ve got something special.”

    Betten rises up for a breakaway dunk.

Betten credits playing AAU basketball from the third grade and onward as being a main factor in getting him ready for that varsity leap.
“AAU is probably the best thing that me and my parents ever decided to do,” he said. “It exposes you to a whole different level of basketball and a whole different level of guys. It’s a blessing to be a part of an AAU program.”
While the physical attributes have always been there, Betten says his basketball IQ improving has been the most beneficial to his game growing over the course of his three years at Manchester. The junior mentioned his midrange game as well as being able to create shots off the dribble as areas he’d like to improve in.
“I feel like my IQ has really helped take my game to the next level. Being able to pass the ball and create open looks for the guys on my team is really something I take pride in,” Betten said. “I want to improve my dribbling as well. I feel like I can get the ball up the court pretty well but if I had the guard-like handles that I want I can be even better than I am right now.”
Henson was not shy in praising his star player, mentioning his work ethic and desire to get better not only as a high school player, but as an athlete preparing to make the step to the next level as what really separates him from the rest.
“He’s always trying to improve different aspects of his game, his footwork, his shot, his passing, he really wants to be a player that does it all. And when you think about the high school game and the way he plays, he knows his role when he gets to college is going to be completely different than what it is now. So when we get together, we’re not just working on stuff that’s going to make him successful next year, we’re trying to make sure he’s successful for the next five years,” Henson said. “We lose in the sectional and that next Monday he wants to get back to work. Basketball is his passion, it’s his love and it shows in his work ethic.
“The one thing I’d really like to see him work on is being more vocal. If he talks those guys are going to listen,” Henson said. “He’s earned that right, him and Ethan Hendrix who is another guy that is crucial to our success. If he wants to hold these guys accountable, they will follow.”
That work ethic is contagious, according to Henson, and a big reason why the Squires have had the team success they’ve had over the past few years. But the regular season wins have not translated to postseason victories just yet, making Betten’s number one goal for his senior year to bring a sectional title back to North Manchester. Along with that, the junior wants to repeat as TRC champions without having to share the title this time around. As for individual goals, he wants to reach the 2,000 point and 1,000 rebound threshold, a goal that is definitely in reach if he keeps up his current pace. Henson believes that he has all the tools necessary to become an Indiana All-Star.
“He can be as good as what he wants to be. If he wants to be a Division I player, he can be. There’s really no ceiling for him,” Henson said. “He’s going to be one of the best players of the state next year and he shouldn’t settle for anything less. I don’t see why he can’t be an Indiana All-Star. He’s been around 20 points for the last three years but he’s capable of going out and averaging 30.”
Betten is also a member of the Manchester golf team, saying he uses golf, fishing and video games as a way to get his mind off of basketball. He currently has three college offers from Grace College, Indiana Wesleyan and Huntington University and has been contacted by countless other schools. He plans on making his decision before his senior season.

Times-Union All-Area Boys Team
F Gavin Betten (Manchester Jr.)

If Betten continues the pace he is on, it’s hard to imagine him being dethroned of the top-player spot his senior year. The junior forward’s tremendous junior season is surely a sign of things to come as he prepares to make the jump to the next level. The Times-Union would like to congratulate Gavin on his spectacular year.
G Luke Bricker (Warsaw Jr.)

    

Luke Bricker was fantastic all season long for a Warsaw team that was finally able to get over the hump and bring home a sectional championship. Bricker averaged just under 16 points a night at 15.9 and was a top rebounder for the Tigers. Bricker stepped up his game when it mattered most, scoring 36 in two sectional games, including 10 in the fourth quarter of the championship contest against Penn. He’s sure to be a key factor for a Tiger side that will be looking to make another deep postseason run next winter.
F Brandt Martin (Warsaw Jr.)

    

Brandt Martin was another junior that contributed a ton on a Warsaw team that was stacked with eleventh graders. Averaging 13.6 PPG, Martin was able to catch fire as well as anyone in the area, leading the Tigers in scoring on multiple occasions. An efficient scorer as well, Martin shot 61% on his two pointers and 37% from deep. A stout defender, Martin did a great job protecting both the paint and perimeter this season. He will look to continue his insane improvement rate heading into his senior year.
G Kyler Krull (Whitko Sr.)

   One of the best scorers in the area, Kyler Krull had a fantastic senior season for a Whitko team that was the most improved in the entire state. Krull was a big factor in the Wildcats’ resurgence, averaging 18.4 PPG on 58% shooting, both team highs. A tall guard standing at 6’7”, Krull also led the team in blocks with 1.3 a contest. Krull reached the 1,000 point threshold for his career back in January.
F Sam Essegian (Whitko Sr.)

   Sam Essegian’s first and only year in the Times-Union coverage area was a memorable one. Transferring to Whitko from Central Noble, Essegian made an immediate impact for the Wildcats, averaging 14.1 PPG on 55% shooting while leading Whitko in rebounding (7.8), assists (4.8), and steals (1.4). Essegian elevated his game even further in the playoffs, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in Whitko’s upset win over Manchester and then following it up with 17 points in the Wildcats’ sectional semifinal loss to Bishop Luers.
G Ethan Hendrix (Manchester Jr.)

    

With a lot of attention going to Betten this season, Ethan Hendrix went under the radar as one of the best guards in the area. Averaging 12.8 points a game, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists, all top-three marks on the team, Hendrix was just as good on the defensive end, leading the team with 3.2 steals a night. The hardest working player Eli Henson has ever coached according to the man himself, Hendrix is in position to have an even bigger role for the Squires as a senior next year.
F Stephen Akase (Tippecanoe Valley So.)

    

The youngest player on this list, Stephen Akase made tremendous strides in his sophomore year at Valley, leading the team with 13.6 PPG on 61% shooting as well as grabbing 8.2 boards a night. A tremendous player in the paint, Akase is incredibly hard to guard and is fantastic at finding angles down low to get his shot to fall. With two more years of ball in his high school career to go, the sky's the limit for Akase as he continues to show rapid improvement.
F Tanner Witt-Hoyo (Triton Jr.)

   

A tremendous two-way player that did a little bit of everything for a great Triton team, Tanner Witt-Hoyo averaged over 12 points a night on an extremely efficient 64% shooting clip in his junior season while also being the team’s leader in rebounding. The forward was also top three on the team in assists and steals.
G Maddux Everingham (Wawasee Jr.)

    

Maddux Everingham had a great season for Wawasee, and not even a facial injury suffered in February against Northridge was able to keep him off the court for long. Everingham missed just two games due to the injury, and was a fantastic player when he was on the court. Second on the team in scoring at 14.6 PPG, that was about the only category he didn’t lead the team in, as Everingham paced the Warriors in rebounding (4.6) as well as assists with 77 and steals with 29.
F Luke Yeager (Warsaw Sr.)

    

The lone senior on Warsaw this season ended up being one of the most valuable players on the team. Luke Yeager averaged eight points a game but his impact went far beyond the box score. Using every inch of his 6’8” frame, Yeager was a defensive mainstay for the Tigers and got better as the season went along. He was always quick to exploit a mismatch and while he finished with 35 blocks on the season, the amount of shots he affected throughout the campaign can not be measured.

All photos are by Gary Nieter.

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