News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 25, 2009

Amey Takes Aim: Turkey Run girls say goodbye to lone senior, a true Warrior

I had to get out of the Tri-Central High School gym pretty quickly Saturday night in order to find a place from which to send my story, so for all I know there’s still a line of Turkey Run fans up there waiting to hug Meghan Doss.

One of my all-time favorite Warriors — and in this case, the description is equally good without the capital letter — was the last member of her team to exit the hallway outside the locker room (because she had to wait to talk to me) after a 41-34 Class A regional loss to Southern Wells, and was immediately greeted with a spontaneous ovation.

Doss injured her knee late in the regular season, and she and I had an argument earlier in the day about just how healthy she was — or wasn’t, which was my contention. I had actually seen a couple of long rebounds hit the floor near her during the Turkey Run-Lafayette Central Catholic game, and I told her a healthy Meghan Doss would have never allowed that to happen.

She was almost 100 percent, she insisted. She doesn’t think she’s short either.

What Meghan Doss does think is that those minor details are not going to keep her from helping her team win. And that’s how a 5-foot, one-legged girl managed to dominate the fourth quarter and overtime against LCC, making a big play every time one was needed.

This isn’t the Amey Awards column, but it’s coming. I’ll let you guess where Doss fits in.

She wasn’t the only story for the Warriors that day either. I had a lump in my throat listening to Jordan Hunt talk about the speech she got from her cousin, Chelsea Newnum, after Hunt replaced Newnum in the starting lineup due to Newnum’s own knee injury.

It’s too bad the Warriors weren’t at full strength for Doss’s final weekend, but she’s their only senior. I suspect the rest of them to be back stronger than ever next winter.

It was such a joy to cover a team with a single agenda. If some other players or former players reading this think there might be a subliminal message in that statement, they could be right.

Doss isn’t the only senior girl from outside Vigo County that I’ll miss in future basketball seasons either.

The Bob Knightization of basketball has cost the game some of the pure scorers it used to have — Jimmy Rayl, Donnie Ings, John Sherman Williams to name three — but that news apparently didn’t reach Spring Raines or Makaylee Pirtle.

Many of you have seen Raines and her ability to go one-on-one — or one-on-five if necessary — and get to the basket for Northview.

I hadn’t been able to enjoy Pirtle’s work at Union until sectional week, but she has a rare gift too. Her forte is going into the heaviest traffic she can find, create some contact with a defender and launch the ball toward the basket on her way to the floor. Then she’ll pick herself up, dust herself off and hit a couple of free throws — or complete the three-point play.

Makaylee takes this punishment with what jealous women would call a size 1 body. So it was unusual, during the sectional championship game against White River Valley, to see her guarding White River Valley post player Stephanie Fougerousse — maybe the strongest female player in the Wabash Valley.

“She came up to me and said, ‘I want to guard Stephanie,’ ” coach Benji Boyd of the Bulldogs — who, it needs to be noted, loves his players like daughters — explained after the game. “I told her, ‘Makaylee, you haven’t guarded anybody in three years. Why do you want to start now?’ ”

And no mention of Union’s team is complete without mention of its best player — one of the best three that I saw this season. That would be point guard and team leader in assists, steals and rebounds Megan Gambill. She’s a senior too, darn it. I’m going to need a new list of favorites next winter.

• Wooden honored — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics inducted John Wooden into the NAIA Hall of Fame in Kansas City last week.

That’s significant here, because Wooden’s NAIA affiliation came as coach at Indiana State. Not only did the Sycamores reach the NAIB — forerunner of the NAIA, the “B” standing for basketball — championship game in 1948, but Wooden declined an invitation to that tournament a year earlier because of its color barrier that would have prevented Clarence Walker from playing. Walker played in the tournament the following season after the NAIB policy was changed.

What Tribune-Star staffer James Willis loved about the announcement was Wooden’s description of his job at Indiana State.

“I was director of athletics, head basketball coach, head baseball coach, taught the coaching course in basketball, taught the coaching course in baseball, finished writing my thesis and substituted in an English course,” Wooden told the Kansas City Star. “Then I came to UCLA. I went on vacation for 27 years. All I had was basketball.”

• More Gatorade awards — Gatorade’s Indiana Player of the Year in girls soccer is Sarah Killion of Fort Wayne Dwenger, while Harrison Petts of Zionsville is Player of the Year for boys soccer.

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.