News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 3, 2008

Amey Takes Aim: It’s only about 3 weeks to that magical day

My kids and I all have visions dancing in our heads right now about what’s going to happen in about three weeks.

Yes, it’s almost time again for the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic (I guess there’s some kind of holiday about that same time, although I haven’t thought much about that), and Tuesday’s tournament draw at Terre Haute South was a nice way to get the anticipation started.

When there were only four teams left to be drawn, I was fearful of a Marshall-Casey first-round game — not that the Lions-Warriors rivalry isn’t always entertaining. But they see plenty of each other, and when they avoided a first-round pairing it guaranteed that no conference rivals would meet in the first round of the Dec. 26-27, 29-30 tournament.

Marshall may have wound up in the most interesting first-round game by avoiding Casey, however; they play Owen Valley in the next-to-last Friday game, a replay of a semifinal game in last season’s Classic.

And Casey drew Rockville in the first night’s finale, setting up the possibility of a Rockville-Marshall second-round game that would have plenty of potential too.

(As I told Todd Woelfle, it’s easy to see that Jim Jones isn’t coaching at Terre Haute North anymore; this will be the first time I can remember that the Patriots aren’t playing late at night.)

Early picks for the best other first-round games are Monrovia-Northview and West Vigo-Bloomfield. A lot of second-round games could turn out interesting if the right teams stay on the same side of the bracket — Shakamak-North maybe the most intriguing.

And eventually there could be a North-South game, although it couldn’t happen until the final day. That would be when the one matchup I’m most hoping to see could happen too — Shakamak vs. Rockville. But if that latter matchup doesn’t happen this month, I’m willing to see it in March in Conseco Fieldhouse, just as I was hoping for a Lakers-Rox baseball championship back in the spring.

• Evans returns — Former South and Indiana University star Brian Evans was the celebrity drawing the pairings from the hat this season, and he said afterward that he wished he and his teammates could have played in the Classic themselves.

I politely disagreed with him, from the standpoint that those Braves — Evans, Jeff Hutz, Toby Stephens, Evan Mills, Jeremy Harrold and Steve Hart, to name a few — might have been pretty tough for a lot of the smaller schools to handle.

My Brian Evans story concerns his family, however. He and his wife just had their third daughter, and Brian admitted to me he was a little disappointed.

Oh, not that he has all girls. Not at all. But the first two are right-handed.

• • •

• Another name from the past — Some of you probably remember Ben Lenderman as a standout offensive lineman at West Vigo or as an Indiana State linebacker. Others may have seen him in the recent ISU magazine being honored as one of the school’s top graduates of the past decade.

But he sent an e-mail recently to let me know about his new sport/passion. He’s now playing rugby for the graduate school team at Stanford, where he’s getting an MBA. His team is currently 9-1-1 and recently took second in a tournament at Phoenix. He described some of the plays, but I’m not fluent enough in rugby to translate. He seems to be having a great time with it, however.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.