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Norwell’s Jessica Rupright is Miss Basketball

March 21, 2012

(AP) — Norwell’s Jessica Rupright is The Indianapolis Star’s Indiana Miss Basketball.

Norwell’s career leader in points (1,591) and rebounds (728), received 41 votes of the 206 total cast by media and coaches. North Central’s Nariah Taylor (19 votes) and Mt. Vernon’s Jessica Brown (17) were second and third, respectively, the Star announced in its Wednesday editions. A total of 36 players received at least one vote.
In Rupright’s four seasons at Norwell, the team was 84-10 and won two sectional championships. This season, the 6-foot-2 center had 21 points and 19 points in a regional semifinal loss to NorthWood.
Rupright picked Miami of Ohio after her junior year despite the fact that she was getting interest from schools like Indiana, Michigan State and Notre Dame at the time.
Rupright grew up in Ossian, a town of about 3,500 residents located 15 miles south of Fort Wayne. Her family played a big role in her development as a Division I prospect. Her uncle, Chris Hoffman, was a standout 6-5 post player at Norwell in the early 1980s. The two of them, uncle and niece, worked together often on her post moves. Her older brother, Adam, graduated from Norwell in 2007 and was a standout football and baseball player.
But basketball was always Jessica’s calling, even though she laughs about her start early in elementary school.
“I was always taller than everybody else, but I was kind of the awkward girl out there,” she said. “I’d get the rebound, then I’d just hand it to one of the guards. That’s pretty much all I did at first.”
It wasn’t long before Rupright’s coordination began to catch up with her height. Starting in fourth grade, she played with the Fort Wayne-based Spiece Gym Rats, which included several of her future Norwell teammates.
“By the time she got to seventh and eighth grade, it was pretty obvious she was going to be a heck of a player,” said Jim Wilson, Rupright’s coach with Spiece. “For a long time, we couldn’t get her to shoot the ball enough. She has a great shot.”
It was frustrating at times for Jessica, who didn’t appreciate getting her shot blocked.
“Then she really got that baby hook shot down,” Hoffman said with a laugh. “She got it up and over me to where I couldn’t block it. She has a lot of natural talent, but she’s also a tireless worker and also a great teammate.”
Though she hasn’t even started her college courses yet, Rupright envisions a future that involves basketball. She’d like to coach, whether it’s at the high school or college level. She coaches a group of kindergarten, first- and second-graders through Norwell’s “Little Squires” youth basketball program. She teaches the basics, such as shooting form, defensive position and dribbling.
“It’s a lot of fun being around those kids,” she said. “That’s what I love about it: getting the kids involved. It’s funny to see what they already know, then to see what else you can teach them. I enjoy that.”
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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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