Sydney Parrish opens the door to Hamilton Southeastern's first Indiana state title

Courtesy the Parrish family

Malea Jackson, left, and Sydney Parrish helped Hamilton Southeastern rally in the second half to earn its first Indiana state title.

When Sydney Parrish was a promising freshman basketball player at Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Indiana), she asked her dad to drop her off at school 90 minutes early one morning so she could get some shots up at the gym.

Problem was, the door appeared to be locked. So Parrish spent most of those 90 minutes dribbling the ball in the hallway, waiting for a coach or a custodian to arrive with an assist.

The same thing happened the next morning. And the next. Eventually Parrish decided to take matters into her own hands.

"I discovered that if I pulled the door super hard, it will open," Parrish said. "So that's what I did."

Fast forward to this past Saturday night, when it was a little push that did the trick for Parrish.

Hamilton Southeastern -- which had never won a state title in girls' basketball -- trailed Lawrence North (Indianapolis), 22-20, at halftime.

Before the coaches spoke at intermission, Royals senior Malea Jackson left her seat in the locker room and approached Parrish, now a 6-foot-2 junior point guard and the No. 11 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the 2020 class.

"Take over the game," Jackson told her.

Parrish was surprised.

"Most seniors wouldn't say that to someone younger than them," Parrish said. "But Malea has always had my back."

Parrish scored 21 of her 30 points in the second half as Hamilton Southeastern rallied for a 55-44 Class 4A victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, a huge arena -- capacity 17,923 -- compared with high school gyms.

Big arenas tend to mess with shooting percentages for high school players who aren't used to them. But Parrish, who also had 10 rebounds and two blocks, went 11-of-16 from the floor, and she made all seven of her free throws.

"It was by far her best performance of the season," said Royals coach Chris Huppenthal, whose team finished 27-1. "Neither team was able to practice [at Bankers Life], and the backdrop was different. For Sydney to shoot like she did was incredible."

Ball control

Parrish, who has trimmed her choices of colleges to Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and UCLA, seems to have her basketball future at her fingertips -- and it's been that way for years.

In grade school, she would watch videos and then spend hours bouncing a basketball off her knees and spinning the ball off her fingers.

When she was 12, she went to see the Harlem Globetrotters, and that spawned even more ideas on what she could do with a basketball in her hands.

"Sydney was constantly bouncing the ball by the kitchen table," said her father, Shawn, who spent several years as a college assistant coach at Utah and at Northwestern.

Shawn, who is 6-foot-5, was a senior starter at Ball State in 1990 when the Cardinals advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA basketball tournament, losing 69-67 to eventual national champion UNLV. Mom Aimee (Forsman) Parrish was a 1,000-point scorer at Valparaiso from 1988 to 1992.

The recruitment of Sydney Parrish began when she was in eighth grade, as college coaches started coming to her junior high games in droves.

Home visits from college coaches will begin in the coming weeks, and Parrish will be paying close attention for more reasons than just the obvious.

Parrish wants to be a college basketball coach whenever she is done as a player.

Freshman star

Flash back to her freshman season, when Parrish was slated for the Hamilton Southeastern junior varsity team.

"She was there for about five minutes," Huppenthal said. "We watched her play pickup basketball and told her: 'You might as well be up here [on varsity]. You're going to be one of our top five.' " She averaged 16.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.9 steals that season as the Royals finished 19-6.

As a sophomore, she averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.8 assists, and the Royals went 16-8.

This season, she averaged 21.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.9 steals in a season that culminated with that state title and this past Monday night's pep rally/celebration right there inside the Royals' gym she's made her home base since her freshman year.

Parrish was one of three players on the team who spoke at the pep rally.

Parrish cried while giving her speech and had to stop and start back up because her emotions were so raw.

"It was surreal," Parrish said. "My teammates know I'm not very good at talking while crying. But it was all from the heart. These seniors mean so much to me."

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