Rebel that I am, I’m going to violate protocol this week. I’m going to reveal one of the captains of the Andy Amey Teams for girls high school basketball who will be appearing in a few weeks.
While Friday night’s game in Hulman Center is still fresh in your minds, let’s recognize Liz Vollrath of Terre Haute South as at least one of the captains for the upcoming Unselfish Team.
Liz is South’s only senior, and she hasn’t played much. That’s pretty much automatic qualification for unselfish recognition anyway, because she probably doesn’t have anybody to share homework tips with on the long bus rides, and the girls she hung out with in middle school have already given up the sport for something else.
But there’s more.
Liz came into this season knowing, I think, that she wasn’t going to be a starter. All those younger girls had passed her on the depth chart — and then she kept getting hurt. Faced with that kind of adversity, nobody would have thought any less of her if she’d decided to pursue some other interests herself.
She didn’t. I think it’s safe to say right now that her teammates are glad she didn’t.
For all the athletes who have made the decision, “If I’m not starting, I’m not playing” — and it’s way too long a list for an old-timer like me — this is why that’s a bad choice. There might come a time, and it might only come once, when your team needs you. You never know when you might be asked to be a hero.
Liz didn’t know. She didn’t even play in the first half Friday against North. But when her time came, she seized the moment. Her team’s biggest win of the year doesn’t happen without her two game-tying free throws, her subsequent steal and her tie-breaking third free throw. She can take that with her the rest of her life.
I’d watched her in a lot of JV games the past couple of years, and I never saw her expression — a classic game face — change. As long as she got to be out on the court, she was going to try to beat you, doing whatever it took.
Friday I got to see her smile.
• Another girl to root for — Keep Sullivan’s Aly Bennett in your thoughts and prayers as the Golden Arrows’ sophomore softball/soccer/basketball player fights off lymphoma.
If you were seeing more green than usual at high school games — both boys and girls — the past few days, it was because teams from all over the Wabash Valley were buying T-shirts and taking up the cause.
• Gatorade winner — High school cross country fans reading this column have probably heard of the Gatorade Boys Runner of the Year for Indiana, just like they knew Culver Academy’s Waverly Neer.
The boys winner is Tyler Byrne of North Harrison, who was fifth in the state and won the semistate by 20 seconds over Terre Haute North’s John Mascari (next year’s winner?).
• Not-that-old guys — “Jody Stafford and the Young Guns” were winners Saturday in the West Vigo alumni basketball games, a round-robin tournament with more than 50 former Vikings — both boys and girls — participating.
It’s probably been 35 years since I incurred the wrath of Leo Phillips by having our Baesler pitcher walk Jody intentionally, so I guess that would make him one of the veterans. Chuck Cardinal Jr. is a year younger than me and I’m told he was the oldest player (his dad, Chuck Sr., stayed on the bench), so basically we’re talking about a bunch of pups.
Dane Norton won the 3-point contest. Not the dunk title?
• XLIV — You know how sometimes a game can’t possibly live up to the hype? I think we’ll see that on Sunday.
I haven’t seen New Orleans stop anybody other than taking the ball away from them, and I don’t think the Colts will cough it up. Make it 41-17 Colts.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.