TERRE HAUTE —
Not a lot of Wabash Valley natives led their teams to post-season college basketball national tournament action, but many were honored for their individual achievements (see accompanying list).
Armon Bassett of Ohio, a junior from Terre Haute South, has obviously garnered most of the attention for his 32-point outburst on Thursday night that paced the Bobcats over No. 3 seed Georgetown.
Meanwhile, Butler assistant coach Matthew Graves of White River Valley helped pace the Bulldogs past Texas-El Paso on Thursday.
Ohio met Tennessee on Saturday and Butler battled Murray State in second-round play.
It was a disappointing end of the season for University of Indianapolis women’s players Samantha Meissel and Jessica Canary, whose team lost in the first round of the NCAA Division II women’s tournament. Former South Brave Tessa Johnson (Lincoln Trail) competed in the national junior college tournament this week.
For Bassett, the return to prominence has been another peak in a rollercoaster ride since he left Terre Haute South four years ago.
In Thursday night’s post-game news conference, Bassett was asked what the team knew it had to do against Georgetown taking a lead into the final minutes.
“We knew we had to keep our poise, and we had to make plays, and had a good run going. We kept our feet on the ground and we pulled it out.”
Other questions and answers:
Q: Armon, just looking at the numbers, you guys can score and you can shoot the three, and you did that throughout the season, but tonight it was a little different level, 13 for 23, just talk about it...
A: “We are just blessed. We kept believing in ourselves and God just kept on blessing us right now. I’m glad everyone is up here because it was a team effort.”
Q: Armon, you said after beating Akron last Saturday that you expected to win every game this season and that wasn’t going to be different today. How were you able to keep that confidence against such a strong and big Georgetown team?
A: “We’re fortunate to beat a great team and great program like Georgetown. But I try to tell my teammates, we may not be a better team, just got to be a better team on a given night. That’s going to be a mindset going in; we’ve got to be a better team for that particular game.”
Q: Armon, your coach has described you as having swagger, a good bit of swagger, could you tell us where that comes from and how that helped you in a game like tonight?
A: “I mean half of the battle is having confidence in yourself. That’s it; you’ve got to have confidence in yourself. I have a coach that has great confidence in me and my teammates and I’m just out there playing my role.”
Ohio Coach John Groce also commented on his backcourt of Bassett and D.J. Cooper.
“Well, those two guys have been terrific down the stretch. I’ve said this before; I wouldn’t trade those two for anybody. I love those two kids. I love their swagger.
“They make plays for us. They give our team a confidence I think the other guys have really gotten where they believe in their decision making. And they make their teammates better being out there. They’ve been terrific over the last couple weeks.”
Meissel and Canary led the Greyhounds to a 26-3 record, a No. 5 national ranking and the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional, but Indianapolis ran into a tough Northern Michigan team in the regional at Houghton, Mich.
After trailing a majority of the game, the Greyhounds had a final shot to win but fell short as Northern Michigan escaped with a 52-51. Second-seeded UIndy had two looks in the final seconds but couldn’t connect, allowing the Wildcats to advance to the regional semifinal.
The Wildcats (22-9) led by as much as 10 in the second half, but the Greyhounds slowly trimmed the margin to have a chance at the end.
With the score knotted at 51 and 19 seconds showing and the clock, UIndy called a timeout to draw up the final play. Out of the stoppage, sophomore Cayla Keegan drove the right side of the lane with time dwindling. She got off a shot that proved wide, but freshman Heather Gonser of Owen Valley crashed the weak side to grab the rebound.
Gonser kicked it to senior Katie Dewey, but her 15-footer fell short.
Meissel battled foul trouble most of day but scored seven of the Hounds’ final nine points, highlighted by a conventional 3-point play that tied it at 51-51.
Canary finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists in her final game in a Greyhound uniform.
Johnson and the Lady Statesmen battled defending champion Central Arizona tough, but fell 83-61 loss in the first round of the NJCAA Women’s National Tournament in Salina, Kan.
Johnson had 14 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Another former Brave, Megan Craft of Vincennes, closed out her career with 20 points as VU fell to Monroe 83-69 in the championship game of the NJCAA district tournament.
Craft was 2-for-3 from 3-point range and 8-for-8 at the line. VU ended the year at 24-7.
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• Greyhound men win GLVC — The University of Indianapolis men’s track and field reversed the results from last year’s meet, besting defending champion Missouri S&T 171.50 to 167.50 to claim the 2010 Indoor Track & Field Championship crown at Kenosha, Wisc.
The UIndy women’s team placed second behind Lewis University.
Terre Haute South’s Christina Carrick earned first-team all-GLVC honors by being a member of the conference champion 4x400 relay team that won in 3:58.64. She also was third in the 400 in 1:00.41
Bethany Schroeder of Greencastle was sixth in the long jump at 16-8.5 and was eighth in the triple jump at 33-7.5.
Ben Bertoli of Terre Haute South placed seventh in the 400 in 50.95, seventh in the high jump at 5-10.5 and seventh in the triple jump at 43.1.5. South grad Josh Bridwell was 13th in the shot put at 42-3.5.
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• Modesitt honored again — The Summit League has announced that IUPUI freshman men’s tennis player Joel Modesitt has been named the conference’s Men’s Tennis Athlete of the Week on March 9.
It is the second time this season and in his career that Modesitt has received the honor.
Modesitt went 2-1 in singles play during the period of March 1-7, while picking up a win in doubles action as well. The freshman helped IUPUI pick up three of their five points in a narrow 4-3 loss to Eastern Illinois and 6-1 losses to Michigan State and Detroit.
The West Vigo grad helped the Jaguars pick up the doubles point against EIU when he combined with Taylor Tunis on an 8-6 win at No. 3.
In singles play, Modesitt picked up victories in his first two matches of the weekend, defeating EIU’s Brendan Kinkopf at No. 4, 6-7, 6-3, 11-10. The freshman went to a super tie-break in his second match as well, rallying for a 4-6, 6-3, 10-6 win over Justin Haag of Michigan State.
Continuing the super tie-break trend, Modesitt fell in a super tie-break in his third and final match of the weekend as well.
For the season the freshman leads IUPUI with a 6-7 singles record.
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• Solomon to Indiana Tech – Northview senior track and field throwing specialist Samantha Solomon has signed a letter of intent to continue competing at the collegiate level for Indiana Tech.
Indiana Tech women’s track coach Karen Brandt was at Northview for the signing and said Solomon will provide immediate depth to the throwing team. She is one of four recruits Brandt has signed this year.
“She’s quality,” Brandt said. “She’s very much in the range of regional, state caliber and she can develop. She will come into a very, very good situation.”
Indiana Tech is an NAIA school in Fort Wayne.
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• Bits and pieces — Ball State is the school most heavily recruiting sophomore shooting specialist Megan Craft of Vincennes. Craft was third nationally this year in 3-point shooting.
• Current South senior John Michael Jarvis is attracting a lot of attention from Olney Central, while North’s Thomas Anderson has heard from Indianapolis among others.
• Cody Vest of Owen Valley, a 6-7 forward with excellent 3-point shooting range, will continue his career at the University of Indianapolis.
• Former Shakamak and Olney Central standout Jared Rehmel of Central Arkansas saw his coach, Rand Chappell, get fired last week. Chappell has been replaced by a legendary Arkansas basketball name, former Razorback great Corliss Williamson.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil.