Candace Danz began her freshman season at Indian Creek High School with the goal of finishing her career as the Braves’ all-time scoring leader.
A four-year starter, the versatile 5-foot-10 guard/forward gave it a good run. She finished fourth on the Braves’ career list with 1,650 points.
“It was all very exciting. I didn’t expect to come as far as I did as a player,” said Danz, who has been selected Daily Journal’s Johnson County Player of the Year after leading the Braves to a Class 3A sectional championship and to the finals of the Danville Regional.
“Obviously, being the career scoring leader didn’t happen, but I got to be fourth-leading scorer, so that was awesome,” Danz said. “I just went out there and played and happened to get those points. It was more just fun than trying to reach that.
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“I definitely had a different responsibility every season, but my senior year was probably my best year.”
Danz concluded it by averaging 23.4 points in Indian Creek’s five postseason games, including 31- and 36-point outbursts against sectional conquests of Ritter and Danville, respectively. She did it despite being a marked player as the lone senior in a starting lineup that included two sophomores and two freshmen.
Capable of playing any of the five positions on the court, Danz averaged team-highs in points (17.0), rebounds (6.2), assists (3.7) and steals (2.7) in leading Indian Creek to a program-record 21 victories this season.
Danz also tied for the top spot in blocks with 20; was second in 3-pointers made (26); and converted on 107 of 133 free throw opportunities (.805).
Indian Creek advanced to the championship game of the Class 3A Danville Regional for the second time in four years, losing to Lebanon, 47-39. Indian Creek posted a 66-29 record (.695) during Danz’ career.
An honors student who ranks eighth academically in her class with a 4.2 grade-point average, she has signed to play women’s basketball Marian University. She plans to major in nursing.
Seventh-year Braves coach Dan Burkman, who coached Kylee Hamilton, the program’s career scoring leader (1,944) during her senior season, and Ally Lehman (1,922) for all four years, said Danz proved quietly effective throughout her four seasons.
“It’s just her versatility and doing anything you would ask of her,” Burkman said. “Candace could play the post or play point guard, or she could guard either one. On defense, I matched her up against the best player for the opposing team.
“Candace is a good defensive player, but not in the traditional sense. She’s a good off-the-ball defender where she can survey and see what’s going to happen before it happens.”
Playing at the top of Indian Creek’s signature defense, a 1-3-1 half-court trap, Danz was renowned for her innate ability to deflect passes and grab steals.
Danz, who can’t pinpoint her statistically finest game, has no problem revealing her most memorable.
Trailing by three points with 2.4 seconds remaining in the sectional final against Danville on Feb. 6, the Braves rallied for a magical 71-70 victory. Danz scored 36 points, including the winning three-point sequence with 1.4 seconds remaining.
“When we were going to the free-throw line and (teammate) Addie (Rund) was shooting her last free throw, I was in tears because I thought it was over,” Danz said. “And then, out of nowhere, we won.
“That was the best moment of my life.”
And how she wants to be remembered as a player has nothing to do with stats.
“Just as a team player,” she said. “I like passing the ball and scoring, as well, but just having everyone together as a team.”
THE DANZ FILE
Name: Candace Danz
Family: Parents, Tom and Margi; sisters, Stacey, 29, Maggi, 21, Raven, 19; brother, Jacob, 22
Favorite TV show: “Castle”
Favorite food: Macaroni and cheese
Favorite movie: “The Breakfast Club”
Favorite athlete: Kevin Durant
Favorite team: Indiana Pacers
*Candace Danz, 5-10 Indian Creek senior – Danz led the Braves in most of the key statistical categories, including points (17), rebounds (6.2) and assists (3.7). Signed to play at Marian University, Danz, a four-year starter, led the 2015-16 Braves to a program-record 21 victories as well as the title game of the Class 3A Danville Regional for the second time in four years.
Mackenzie Blazek, 6-0 Whiteland sophomore – Blazek makes All-County First Team for a second consecutive season after averaging 17.3 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Despite often working against collapsing defenses designed to stop her, Blazek managed to lead the Warriors to a 14-10 record — the program’s most wins since the 2010-11 season.
Maci Eads, 5-8 Franklin Community senior – A four-year starter, Eads finished her career as the Grizzly Cubs’ fifth all-time leading scorer with 821 points. This past season Eads led what was longtime head coach Walt Raines’ final squad in points (14) and 3-pointers (39). Eads also finished her senior campaign averaging 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals. She produced double-figures in points in 18 of Franklin’s 24 games this season.
Cassidy Hardin, 5-10 Center Grove sophomore – The Trojans’ second-leading scorer at 13.4 points per contest, the sharp-shooting swingman did lead her team in made 3-pointers (66) as well as rebounds (4.1). Hardin’s consistency also proved big for the Class 4A sectional champions as she finished with a double-digit scoring total in 16 of the Trojans’ 25 games.
Holly Hoopingarner, 5-3 Greenwood senior – Greenwood’s gritty point guard and four-year starter finished her career with 1,623 points after averaging a team- and county-best 23.6 as a senior. A three-time All-County choice, Hoopingarner, who is headed to IUPUI to continue her athletics and academics careers, also led Greenwood in assists (2.8) and steals (2.7) while finishing third in rebounding (3.3).
Lauren Rau, 5-5 Center Grove senior – The team’s lone senior, this three-year starter at point guard proved to be the Trojans’ emotional leader on and off the court. A Lipscomb University signee, Rau finished her final season leading Center Grove in scoring (14), assists (4.4) and steals (2). Rau also proved virtually automatic at the free-throw stripe — 94 of 118 (.797).
*Player of the Year
Center Grove: Madelyn Bitterling and Allison Utterback
Edinburgh: Allie Schooler and Mariah Weddle
Franklin: Allison Barnard, Delanie Hill and Kenna Bertsch
Greenwood: Jae Taft, Alex Kincaid and Megan Overton
Greenwood Christian Academy: Hannah Peters and Sarah Mangan
Indian Creek: Katie Burkman, Addie Rund and Celina McElroy
Whiteland: Sydney Crowe, Kate White and Sydney Mize