Huntington, Ind. - Huntington North senior standout Liesl Davenport has decided to stay in town and continue her basketball career at Huntington University.
Davenport — who is also a star track and field athlete and was a state finalist in the discus event last year — turned down a Division-I track and field scholarship offer from Western Michigan University, opting to follow the footsteps of her sister Lauren (Davenport) Johnson, a 2009 HU graduate, and play hoops for the Foresters.
“I grew up watching my sister play there, and when it came down to it, I felt really comfortable there,” said Davenport. “I know a lot of the girls there. I’ve played with them in the summer for the past couple years. Just going to games the past couple weeks, I could really see myself out on the floor playing with them.
“I’ve decided that I just want to focus on basketball and see how much I can improve in four years,” she added. “I really wanted to play basketball.”
Foresters coach Lori Culler, in her 25th year with Huntington, is thrilled to land Davenport.
“Liesl is just a fantastic player, and she fills a hole for us in terms of having some size at a perimeter position,” Culler said. “She’s one of the strongest players I’ve seen at this level. To add someone of her ability, size and quickness is going to be great for us.
“The Davenports have been a special part of our program, so it’s really neat for us to be able to keep Liesl in Huntington,” she added.
Davenport, a full-time starter at guard the past three seasons after earning spot start duty as a freshman, is averaging 13.3 points and 3.8 rebounds, while hitting 48 percent of her shots and shooting 71 percent from the free-throw line.
Huntington North coach Kelly Jones, who came to the Vikes’ program for Davenport’s sophomore year, is dreading the thought of fielding a team next season without her star guard.
“There’s no way to statistically analyze what Liesl has meant to this program,” Jones said. “You can put numbers on what she’s done as far as scoring and rebounding goes, but you can’t put a number on what she’s done in terms of leadership.
“She is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached,” she added. “She never lets herself settle for anything less than her best. Defensively, she gets the toughest matchup night in and night out. We are going to have big shoes to fill next year.”
Davenport came up with a nifty way to announce her college decision.
During the Vikings’ Senior Night ceremonies before their Jan. 25 game against South Side, North Arena announcer Don Cotton, who is also Davenport’s track coach, was rattling off her long list of accomplishments. At the end, Cotton announced that Davenport was heading to Huntington University, surprising her parents, Jody and Garrett.
“My mom didn’t really say anything at first,” Davenport said. “She just gave me a look and started crying.”
Davenport’s decision means that the Vikes’ top two players, her and fellow senior Kayla Schenkel, will be rivals following this season. Schenkel signed with Taylor University earlier this year.
“That’s definitely going to be interesting,” Davenport said of playing against Schenkel. “We both went to the Huntington-Taylor game (on Jan. 29), and we were there wearing different colors and cheering for different teams. That was weird. It’s going to be fun, though.”
In addition to her sucess on the court, Davenport has also made a name for herself in the classroom. She was recently named First Team Academic All-State.
Submitted by Austan Kas, Herald Press