News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 22, 2009

Postseason is near for high school hardwood teams

By Andy Amey

TERRE HAUTE — Postseason high school basketball is coming up pretty quickly, and with perhaps a little more anticipation than usual.

The Marshall boys team would probably start regional play right now if it could, because the Lions are rolling. Turkey Run’s girls might say the same. Rockville’s boys seem to be gradually getting better and not at their peak yet, which might be the ideal position for the Rox to be in at this point in the season.

West Vigo’s boys find themselves in a spot the Vikings haven’t enjoyed in a while, and need only to defend their home court to win the Western Indiana Conference — although the last two WIC games, against Sullivan and Edgewood, are definitely not gimmes. If the Vikings win both, they’d enter Class 3A sectional play as the favorite, and that probably hasn’t happened before.

(You probably don’t need this reminder, but if you want to see West Vigo and Marshall play tonight, you’d better get to the Green Dome early.)

And then there’s Terre Haute South, where both teams of Braves enter this weekend undefeated against Indiana opposition. If they survive in that mode for a couple more days — and this weekend is a double order of Carmel, plus a boys game on Saturday against Evansville Central — they will only heighten the anticipation.

South’s girls, by the way, face about as tough a road ahead of them as an undefeated team can possibly have. Not only is there Carmel on Saturday afternoon, but there’s the rescheduled game with Ben Davis on Feb. 2 among the other tests before sectional play.

That sectional, incidentally, includes two other teams with just one loss between them, and the team that has the one loss is Plainfield, the sectional host.

And while the Braves are in a solid third spot in the state poll, that’s a tricky proposition too. I’ve been informed of two national girls high school basketball polls: one has Ben Davis as the best team in the nation, the other chooses South Bend Washington for that honor. So all we’re looking at, apparently, is the best Indiana girls tournament ever.

• Traveling man — Joel Whittington, a sophomore at Northview, has been chosen for the Down Under Sports Invitational in Australia this summer, where he’ll compete in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.

Whittington feels he probably earned the invitation last summer, when he won the state Junior Olympics meet in his event and placed 19th in the nation — even though he was basically running against competitors a year older because his birthday falls in a bad spot.

“It will give me a chance to get out of the country and see another culture,” he explained by telephone this week. “See more than just Brazil, Indiana, and school.”

Right now, of course, he’s getting ready for his sophomore track season with the Knights. As a freshman last year he was a key contributor, finishing fourth in the sectional in intermediate hurdles and helping out in other events.

He’ll leave June 26 for an itinerary that includes a week in Australia — he’s not sure how often he’ll be competing — and also three days in Hawaii.

He’s off to a good start in his fund-raising efforts for the trip by doing odd jobs for members of his church, but he’s also looking for more ways to earn money. Anyone with an idea for Joel along those lines is more than welcome to call him at (812) 448-1012.

• Wrestling draw — Pairings for the state team tournament in wrestling were drawn this morning, and there are some minor changes in the tournament format.

This year the winners of eight team regionals will advance to an eight-team finals. The semistate round of the tournament has been eliminated, and sectional runner-up teams no longer advance to the regional.

Another change for quite a few of the wrestlers in this area is that the Northview Sectional winner will no longer go to Seymour for regional competition. Instead, the Northview winner will be at the Greencastle Regional along with sectional champions from Avon, Decatur Central and Mooresville.

Winner of the Crawfordsville Sectional will compete at the North Montgomery Regional.

Girls basketball pairings will be drawn Jan. 29, by the way, with boys basketball pairings drawn Feb. 19.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or at 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.