Leader by EXAMPLE

Periodically, coaches admonished Regan Wentland about shooting the basketball.

She sometimes didn’t do it enough.

If the Center Grove senior had her way, she would defer the spotlight to others and revel exclusively in the dirty work.

That’s what she really enjoys.

“I definitely took pride in defense and just the just hustle plays. The hustle plays, definitely,” said Wentland, the Daily Journal’s 2014-15 Johnson County Girls Basketball Player of the Year. “I felt like it gave the team energy.”

That, and synergy.

And chemistry.

Competing against a schedule that was one of the toughest in Class 4A, the Trojans won a sectional championship and finished 20-7. They did so on the strength of remarkable balance that didn’t lean on the contributions of any one, or any two or any three players.

Center Grove got it done in a collective way that didn’t permit individual stat stacking. Only two players averaged double-figure scoring. The top four scorers had averages within three points of each other. The Trojans’ style embodied unselfishness, which created a winning harmony on and off the court.

For that, Trojans coach Shawn Sanders credits a specific player for not only setting the example but leading by it.

“Everybody was buying into the Regan Wentland philosophy, the Regan Wentland attitude,” Sanders said. “She was the one that started the whole trend, and everybody bought into it.”

A 6-foot-1 forward, Wentland was Center Grove’s second-leading scorer (10.1 ppg), second-leading rebounder (5.1 rpg) and shot a team-best 50 percent from the field.

But what she really took pride in was her defense, creating havoc for opposing offenses any way she could. She averaged team-highs in steals (2.6 per game) and blocked shots (1.2 per game) and habitually set the defensive tone.

Scoring? She could do it as well as anyone but occasionally had to be prodded to do so.

“There were times we had to ask her shoot more,” Sanders said. “How many times do you have to ask a kid to shoot? For her, winning was priority No. 1, and then No. 2 was, she took pride in doing the things that you’ve got to beg players to do, getting deflections, guarding the best player on the other team, and all those kinds of things.

“Usually you almost have to bargain with a kid, ‘Hey, if you want to get a little more playing time, we need somebody to fill this role.’ Well, Regan came in as a freshman, and that’s exactly what she wanted to do.”

A four-year starter, Wentland didn’t miss a game throughout her career. She started 90 straight and was one of the three Center Grove players (Bri Gliessman and Jessica Norris are the others) selected for Hoosier Basketball Magazine’s Top 60 Workout.

Wentland earned the invitation despite stats that don’t jump off the page.

“It’s so cliché, and you hate to say it, but it’s always been about her teammates for her,” Sanders said. “It’s never been about the accolades, the numbers. She probably could have doubled her scoring if she really wanted to, but it wasn’t about that.

“It was about the other things.”

Like winning and sharing something special with teammates.

“I’ll always remember the family atmosphere that we had,” said Wentland, who began playing AAU basketball at age 9. “Every single year, our team was close. We always wanted to get better and get to where we wanted to be.”

But basketball wasn’t her only sport.

Wentland also was one of the top players on the Trojans’ state-ranked volleyball team. She loves both sports but has a special passion for basketball, as evidenced by the fact she will continue her career at Indiana State University.

She will report to the Sycamores on June 6 and looks forward to the new chapter in her basketball life.

“I’m excited for the college experience,” said Wentland, who plans to major in finance or accounting. “I’m excited for the education that Indiana State offers, but also being able to play with new people and experience a different coaching style, and just experiencing a new way.

“I’m excited about that.”

Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rmorwick@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.