TERRE HAUTE — High school girls basketball practice has been officially under way in Indiana for almost a week now, and its season is being very eagerly anticipated in pockets of the Wabash Valley.
One of those pockets, of course, is on the south side of town. Terre Haute South’s Braves had the best regular season in the school’s history last winter — yes, better than the 2002 state champions had — and return a 2007 Junior All-Star in Megan Craft and four potential 2008 Junior All-Stars in Dragana Grbic, Tessa Johnson, Randa Rector and Krista Smith. They’re loaded, in other words, and I’m not even mentioning yet the newcomer with star potential of her own.
Pairings for the upcoming HI-99 Clabber Girl Classic will be drawn at noon on Halloween — can’t resist saying it will be scary for whichever team gets the Braves — and games are less than two weeks away.
But the Braves aren’t the only team to watch.
South didn’t win the sectional at Martinsville last year, remember. That was Terre Haute North, which knocked off the host Artesians after Martinsville sidelined the Braves in the first round.
The Patriots will undergo a subtle — OK, not subtle at all — shift in style this year, now that 6-foot-2 post players Molly Martin and Samantha Meissel are off playing in college. This season the Patriots have a bunch of guards — led by returning starters Bianca Russell and Kelly Meggs — that they can throw at an opponent in waves, and I’m predicting they might get up and down the floor pretty quickly.
There should be some other items of interest in the Classic too. If South plays either South Vermillion or Sullivan or both, coach Alan Maroska might be tempted to smuggle Caitlin Phillips of the Wildcats or Emily Lahay of the Golden Arrows — two strong, aggressive inside players who could move bodies around and help Grbic stay out of foul trouble — onto the South team bus.
If North should happen to play Northview, and if the Patriots are indeed playing a wide-open, up-tempo style, will that result in a record-breaking scoring performance for Spring Raines of the Knights? If I’m Spring, I’m wearing And1 shoes, because I don’t know a better streetballer around here than she is.
But the Knights are going to draw Sullivan in the first round, aren’t they? That way Chad Smith can see his 2007-2008 team play his 2006-2007 squad.
There are a couple of teams not in the Classic that I’m looking forward to seeing too.
Now that a lot of the Bloomfield stars have graduated — whatever happened to Lacy Bowersock anyway? — and with the Cardinals moving up to Class 2A, there’s room for a new Class A power to the south of Vigo County. There are at least two candidates — North Central, with a still-young group of veterans, and White River Valley, led by stars Taylor Kail and Stephanie Fougerousse. Fougerousse might be the strongest inside player in Class A.
To the north, the Class A power would appear to still be Attica and its Purdue-bound Miss Basketball candidate Brittany Rayburn. But the coming power — and some tell me it will come sooner rather than later — seems to be Turkey Run. The Warriors have a nice nucleus back, led by Meghan Doss and Tiffany Marshall, but the reason for the optimism is a freshman class led by the Francis triplets. I hope to be in the house Nov. 6, when the Warriors play at North.
• Death notice? There was no obituary in our paper a week or so ago, just a death notice for Ron Welsh of Oblong.
I’m guessing that’s the Ron Welsh who coached the Panthers to football prominence 35 years ago or so — and who gave me one of the great quotes that I couldn’t use in the newspaper. You were one of the good ones, Ron.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at 1-800-783-8742 or at (812) 231-4277; by e-mail at email@example.com; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.