News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 18, 2009

Amey Takes Aim: What a fantastic boys basketball season it was on both sides of Wabash River

By Andy Amey

TERRE HAUTE — No, we’re still not to the Amey Awards for 2008-2009 high school basketball. They won’t be forgotten, there’s just a bunch of stuff to get out of the way first.

And the main bunch of stuff is the fact that, despite a quartet of one-sided losses in the last week, we have just witnessed one of the most fantastic boys seasons since … well, I don’t know when we’ve had one like it.

The folks in Marshall probably agree with me, still trying to recover from their school’s first trip to the state finals. I don’t think I’ll get an argument in Clay City either, considering that the Eels won what I think is their first sectional without one of the Heaton brothers on the team — not that there was anything wrong with that John-Bob-and-Tom-led run from 1972 through 1976.

Terre Haute South won a sectional plus a regional game with 40 percent of its starting five limping; we’ve talked plenty about Jake Odum’s injury, but just 11 field goal attempts in two regional games tells me that John Michael Jarvis was hurting more than he let on too.

Rockville won a second sectional in a row and remains unbeaten in regional play against Class A public schools (please, somebody, move LCC where the Knights belong).

West Vigo didn’t win a sectional, but the Vikings share some kind of overachiever award with the Braves. Look at those two rosters on paper, or look at those two scrawny little teams warming up, and tell me how they combined for 40 wins this year.

Was it a perfect year? Not at all. Two of my best friends in coaching (and this is a long list, guys, so don’t get cocky), Todd Woelfle and Steve Brett, probably didn’t have nearly the fun they expected in their first year with new titles.

But for the lucky ones who got to sit courtside and watch, it was magnificent. How many games this year came down to the last seconds? Two dozen? More? It seemed like there was at least one every weekend, three or four a day at the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic.

Do I wish a lot of you were still playing? Sure. Am I complaining? Only for not having the postage money for all the thank-you cards I should be sending out after having so much fun.

• • •

And now, the other stuff.

• Predictable (but at least short) NCAA selection rant — Dec. 10, 2008, Creighton (before finishing 26-7) 77, Dayton (before finishing 26-7) 59. Guess which team is in the NCAA tournament?

• Former foe — Kennedy McIntosh passed away a week or so ago, for those of you who remember Indiana State’s early, early days in Division I basketball and their short but interesting rivalry with Eastern Michigan. The Hurons, as they were known back then, had a lot of athletes — suspiciously good ones, if you had asked Gordon Stauffer — and McIntosh was the best of them, eventually a first-round NBA draft choice.

• Milestone — Dave Clark, most famous around here for coaching the 1993 White River Valley team that lost in overtime at the Evansville Semistate to eventual state champion Jeffersonville — yes, those were the days — won his 300th game recently. He’s now coaching at Franklin.

n Thoughts for colleague — Veteran Tribune-Star sportswriter David Hughes has experienced some tough health issues recently, and would appreciate thoughts and prayers from folks in the community. Get well soon, David.

• Officiating news — The Wabash Valley Officials Association had two representatives among the 12 referees who worked the girls state championships.

Don Corey — in a swan song, I believe — did the 3A finals between Owen Valley and Fort Wayne Elmhurst, while P.J. Pitts had the 4A game between maybe the best two high school girls teams in the country, Ben Davis and South Bend Washington.

Didn’t get a chance to ask Greg Hayes if he’s moving on to this week’s boys finals, but he was lead official for South vs. Evansville Harrison on Saturday.

• You remember him — East Central, the Illinois co-op of Shiloh and Heritage, is building a new baseball field this year at Broadlands, Ill., and will dedicate Tuesday before the season-opening game against the Georgetown-Chrisman co-op.

It’s named for the late Don Stampini, an assistant coach there before moving across the state line to coach quite successfully at Covington.

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.