TERRE HAUTE —
The history books could easily tell you how good the Terre Haute South girls basketball team was two years ago based upon victories and state rankings.
The nation’s Division I basketball programs have also taken notice.
With Tessa Johnson’s recent signing to transfer from Lincoln Trail to Marshall, there will be four members of the 2008 South team to suit up in Division I next year.
Dragana Grbic will be a redshirt freshman making her debut at Butler, while Krista Smith will be a sophomore at Indiana State and Megan Craft will be in her first year at Ball State after two standout seasons at Vincennes University.
Johnson was 32nd in the nation in three-point field goal percentage last season and 35th in overall field goal percentage - she is not just a one-dimensional player. She started all 33 games for the Lady Statesmen, averaging 14.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per contest.
She was honored as an All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference and All-Region 24 performer, and Johnson also won the program’s Triple Threat Award for academics, athletics and citizenship.
“Her ability to shoot the ball is obviously her biggest asset, but she can do a lot of things on the court well enough to contribute at the next level,” said Chad Killinger, her coach last season. “She is willing to defend, works hard every day, and while she has to get physically stronger, has shown that she can put up decent numbers from a rebounding perspective.”
Killinger is looking forward to seeing how Tessa develops during her Marshall career.
“When we signed her, we told her that we were looking at this as a one year deal,” Killinger said. “She was an academic qualifier and didn’t need to stay in a junior college situation for more than one year if it wasn’t necessary. I think she showed that she is more than just a shooter, and there was no reason for us to try and hold her back. She is deserving of the opportunity to play Division I basketball.”
Johnson her enjoyed her season at LTC and likes the environment she is getting ready to join.
“All and all we had a great season,” she said. “We went 25-3 during regular season and made it to the nationals. We didn’t do so hot in Kansas, but just the experience to make it to the tournament was awesome.
“Marshall has a small compact campus and it’s a ‘college town,’” Johnson added. “They have a lot of fans who really support their athletes.”
Marshall is located in Huntington, W.Va., and is a member of Conference USA. The school has had many successful athletes, including NFL stars Randy Moss and Chad Pennington, and was highly publicized in the 2006 movie “We Are Marshall” that detailed the aftermath of a plane crash that killed the school’s football team.
Last season, Marshall had a 14-16 overall record and finished in a three-way tie for ninth in Conference USA with a 6-10 league mark.
Fortunately, Johnson will not be making the long trip east by herself.
Killinger has been hired as an assistant coach at Marshall, and All-American LTC point guard Lateidra Elliott will also be joining the Thundering Herd next season.
Marshall Coach Royce Chadwick likes the prospect of bringing in teammates that are familiar with each other.
“Anytime you add a chemistry dimension to your team, it makes the team better. They played together, know each other,” Chadwick said. “Lateidra brings pin-point passing and Tessa’s strongest asset is pin-point shooting. Those things fit together really well.”
Marshall made just 78 three-pointers as a team last season, while Johnson made 74 by herself for the Lady Statesmen last season.
“Adding Tessa is going to be a great addition because of what she brings to the table. She stretches the defense and that’s something that we wanted to help our team out offensively,” Chadwick said.
“They are looking for outside shooters,” Johnson added. “Hopefully, I can step in there with Lateidra to take some pressure off the post players and prevent double and triple-teams.”
Like all athletes making such a large step up in competition level, Johnson knows what she has to work on in order to continue her success.
“I know I need to get stronger and work on my defense to compete at the next level,” Johnson said. “But, I am willing to put in the work to help the team win. I want to help them win a Conference USA championship and play in the NCAA Tournament.”
• • •
• McCarthy to Holy Cross – Terre Haute North’s Francesca McCarthy has signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and athletic career at Holy Cross College with the women’s basketball program.
McCarthy, a 5-9 forward, won the Gold Medal Award, Rebounding Award, and Free Throw Award with the Patriots last winter. She also won the 2010 3-point contest and was selected to the All Wabash Valley team.
College athletics runs in the family. McCarthy is one of four cousins to compete at the collegiate level including Alison Bales who was a Duke University women’s basketball player and drafted #9 by the Indiana Fever in the 2007 WNBA draft.
McCarthy will play a big role for the Saints in the 2010-11 season.
“Francesca will bring a lot of passion and leadership to our young team,” said Head Coach Matt Hunsberger. “She also possesses an amazing work ethic that is very contagious. Fran’s the type of player that will do whatever she is asked and will be a great teammate for the rest of the girls. We are blessed to have her as a part of our program.”
While attending Holy Cross, Francesca will be working on a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. McCarthy has earned numerous awards for her play on the court, but she is also an outstanding student and a member of the National Honor Society.
She enjoyed her North career, and likes the fact she was also able to work on things to help her at the next level.
“I had a wonderful four years playing under Mike Allen at North,” she said. “Every year I felt like we had a team that had a good shot at winning sectionals, and each year I really felt like I improved as a player.
“I really worked on developing the three pointer and working on being able to play a wing as well as a post.”
Holy Cross is an NAIA school in northern Indiana in the small town of Notre Dame, and Coach Hunsberger was McCarthy’s biggest reason for choosing to become a Saint.”
“Coach Hunsberger really made a great impression on me,” she said. “He talked to me about being a great person and a great player. His philosophy really stresses team, and the only way we can be successful is through teamwork. “
McCarthy recently participated in a scrimmage at Hinkle Fieldhouse against the Butler women’s team, and said she got to talk to her new coach about what her role will be.
“I’m going to be mostly playing post, so we can have an opportunity to get bigger, but slower, girls on me causing a mismatch,” she said. “His offense is lots of motion and screening which I think I will fit well in. He also stressed how important my role will be as a rebounder and a defender.”
Coach Allen sees her succeeding at Holy Cross.
“Fran is a three year varsity starter for the Lady Patriots basketball team and is a hard working and dedicated basketball player,” Allen said. “She put in the extra time needed to improve her game to earn a scholarship to play at the collegiate level. Her time in the weight room will also benefit her at the next level.
“Fran will be a good fit in the Holy Cross program,” Allen added. “It is a new program and Fran has the basketball knowledge and leadership skills to help guide them in the right direction. Fran’s success is well deserved and I wish her the best.”
• • •
• Wheeler gets D-I ride – Recent Northview graduate Scott Wheeler missed most of his junior season with an arm injury, and for a while it looked like that accident during a crucial part of the recruiting process would hurt his college choices.
The 6-3, 290-pound offensive lineman was deciding between a long list of small schools when Division I Kent State started showing serious interest and offered a full-ride scholarship.
Wheeler is now a Golden Flash.
“Scotty has great size and is a very explosive player,” KSU Head Coach Doug Martin said. “We think we got a steal late because he missed his junior year with an injury and kind of flew under the radar. We’re looking for him to help us with our depth right away.”
Wheeler earned all-conference honors this past season, while helping Northview High School (8-2) to a Western Indiana Conference title. He earned Northview’s Best Lineman award and was selected to compete in the Wabash Valley Coaches Association All-Star Game.
“It’s a good atmosphere,” Wheeler said. “Everything is pretty close, but the campus is pretty spread out.”
Kent State is a member of the Mid-American Conference, and had a 5-7 record last year.
Two games this season are “money games” at national powers Boston College and Penn State.
Wheeler said he has been in touch with Kent State coach Doug Martin.
“He said as of now, I’ll be second string but he’s not looking to red-shirt me,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler will be the second NHS offensive lineman on a NCAA Division I roster this fall. Joey Evinger is a senior starting offensive guard at Louisville.
“We’re very happy for Scott and his family,” Northview Coach George Gettle said. “This is a tremendous opportunity. This was the best fit and the best place.”
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE —
The history books could easily tell you how good the Terre Haute South girls basketball team was two years ago based upon victories and state rankings.
- College Report
College Report: Valley athletes helping Wabash College
Two Wabash Valley hurdlers helped the Division III Wabash College track and field team go head to head against talent from NCAA Division I schools in the Vanderbilt University Black and Gold Invitational this past weekend.
The Little Giants produced several quality times, including a first-place finish by Northview grad Joel Whittington in the men’s 400-meter hurdles. The junior captured the title with a top time of 54.4 seconds, the fourth quickest recorded for NCAA DIII men this season. Cole Seward, a freshman from Terre Haute North, took third place, crossing the finish line in 55.7.
College report: Former Terre Haute South player Conrady returns to coaching
Former Terre Haute South and Furman University basketball standout David Conrady has re-entered the coaching world after a short hiatus. Conrady was recently named head coach of the boys team at Chattanooga Christian, a prep school in eastern Tennessee.
College report: Valley softball pair help Ball State start off with 12-2 record
Two Wabash Valley products have helped the Ball State softball team get off to a 12-2 start, including five straight wins last weekend to capture the Louisville Slugger Invitational at Arizona State.
College Report: Valley pair square off in softball pitching duel
Administrators and coaches long ago scheduled the East Tennessee State and Indiana University softball teams to both compete in the Georgia State Panther Invitational in Atlanta last weekend. Little could they have realized, however, that a Sunday afternoon pitching matchup between the two teams would pair two successful, blonde, and versatile performers from western Indiana in a head-to-head clash.
College report: Versatile Vicars set to help VU baseball program
Chris Barney knew what qualities he wanted as he was searching this winter for a new assistant baseball coach at Vincennes University. He wanted someone familiar with his program and his coaching style, someone from the Wabash Valley area who understood the state’s high school and American Legion programs, someone who had played several different positions in the field and also someone who had made a successful transition from junior college to Division I baseball. It didn’t take him long to realize that Cole Vicars was his man.
College report: Terre Haute pair Berry, Comer to boost Sycamores’ lines
While many people have varying opinions on the most important position on a football team, most old-school gridiron veterans would consider strong line play as a necessity for anything else to work — kind of like pitching in baseball and guard play in basketball.
College report: Wabash Valley hoops pair earn MVC weekly honors
Two Wabash Valley natives picked up big honors this week from the Missouri Valley Conference for their excellence on the basketball court. Evansville freshman Sara Dickey of Riverton Parke earned the league’s Newcomer of the Week for the third time while Loyola sophomore Matt O’Leary of Terre Haute North was chosen as the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the week.
College Report: Mahurins playing major role for Indiana Wesleyan
R.J. Mahurin, a senior at Indiana Wesleyan, was selected as the Crossroads League’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the period of Nov. 24-30.
The fifth-year senior from Rockville led Indiana Wesleyan, then ranked No. 2 in NAIA Division II, to an 88-82 win over No. 9 Bethel last month in the Crossroads League opener.
Mahurin scored 33 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field, including 7 of 10 from 3 point range. He also recorded seven rebounds and two assists while knocking down both free throws in the contest.
COLLEGE REPORT: Former WRC football standouts playing key roles for No. 1 Mount Union
It’s a huge jump from the Wabash River Conference, one of the smallest leagues that plays high school football in Indiana, to Division III national powerhouse.
But two Wabash Valley standouts have made that leap and are significant contributors for top-ranked and defending national champion Mount Union (Ohio).
College Report: North grad enjoying sophomore season at Virginia Tech
A.J. Hughes had an admittedly up and down freshman season as the punter for Virginia Tech’s football team, but the sophomore from Terre Haute North High School has elevated his game like one of his long, hanging left-footed punts.
Hughes ranks first in the Atlantic Coast Conference in punting with a 44.8-yard average per punt, a 4.7 increase over last year and a lofty number that ranks him ninth nationally.
College Report: South graduate becomes Wabash College swim coach
Brent Noble’s climb up the collegiate swimming coaches has taken another big step, after the Terre Haute South grad was recently named the new head swimming and diving coach at Wabash College in Crawfordsville.
Noble joins the Wabash program after serving for a year as the women’s head swimming coach at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
College Report: People with Valley ties getting up-close look at top-ranked Crimson Tide
Trivia question: What do Trent Miles, A.J. Hughes and Johnny Manziel have in common?
Maybe nothing right now, but after Saturday they will all have played against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide already this season.
Manziel has no known local ties, but was involved in the most-hyped game of the year last month as Texas A&M fell just short in a late comeback against Alabama.
Hughes, a sophomore punter for Virginia Tech from Terre Haute North, did his part in the Hokies’ 35-10 season–opening loss to the Tide.
Turner hoping to prove himself in junior college
Jeffrey Turner hopes a couple of years at junior college will do for his basketball career what it did for Derek Shouse.
COLLEGE REPORT: Watson, Seliger move on in strength and conditioning careers
Three members of the Indiana State athletics strength and conditioning staff, including two from Terre Haute, have advanced their careers and moved on to other opportunities.
Daniel Watson, former graduate assistant from Terre Haute North, has been hired by Rocky Mountain College to serve an assistant football coach and the head strength and conditioning coach.
Matt Seliger, also a former graduate assistant and North Patriot, has been hired by Athletes’ Performance in Frisco, Texas, to serve as an intern.
Longtime Butler assistant stays loyal to new job
Matthew Graves waited patiently for nine years as a member of the Butler men’s basketball staff for his chance to be a head coach.
COLLEGE REPORT: Several Valley standouts busy with baseball
Several of the Wabash Valley area standouts now in college baseball are busy with summer league teams.
COLLEGE REPORT: Kentucky baseball star Reed earns All-SEC
Kentucky sophomore baseball standout A.J. Reed of Terre Haute South Vigo High School earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors in voting by the league coaches for the recently completed season.
- COLLEGE REPORT: Wabash College All-American relay team has TH flavor
Catching up as the school year winds down
Odds and ends from here and there as the school year quickly winds down. For starters, high jumper Nick Jaeger of Terre Haute South was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s male track & field newcomer of the year:
College Report: Lively earned collegiate upgrade with strong play
Hillary Lively signed to play Division II basketball at Maryville (Mo.) during her senior year at North Vermillion, but those plans changed and she would up at nearby Danville Area Community College — where she recently concluded an outstanding two-year career.
Lively was impressive enough to earn a Division I scholarship to Southeast Missouri State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and both her future and past college coaches think she will continue to succeed there.
“She fits what we need,” SEMO coach Ty Margenthaler said. “She has college experience, she is strong and physical and plays well around the basket and moves well.
“Her strength, rebounding and touch around the basket will be a big help. On the defensive end, she’ll be able to guard a true center.”
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley prep athletes getting ready for next level
The NCAA “regular” signing period begins Wednesday for all sports except football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country and men’s water polo.
COLLEGE REPORT: Conferences honor Valley softball players
Several Wabash Valley area college softball players have been honored by their respective conferences for outstanding play this spring.
COLLEGE REPORT: Jake Newton makes big impact for Lincoln Trail College
Jake Newton had a long time between playing in competitive basketball games, a span of about 18 months, and used the frustration from that long dry spell to produce a stellar freshman season for Lincoln Trail College this winter.
COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed earns SEC Player of the Week honors
After belting three home runs during a five games last week, Kentucky sophomore left-handed pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week.
COLLEGE REPORT: Spring newcomers making marks
Several freshman baseball and softball NCAA Division I players from the Wabash Valley have already made immediate impacts at their new schools, while others are waiting for their turns to shine.
COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed named third-team preseason baseball All-American
Two-way sophomore standout A.J. Reed was one of three University of Kentucky players named third-team preseason All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
COLLEGE REPORT: Sponsler honored after big week for Wabash men's hoops
Wabash College freshman Ross Sponsler of Terre Haute North was named the North Coast Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 6.
COLLEGE REPORT: North grad Hughes finds success after facing preseason adversity
A.J. Hughes knew he was in for a battle as he competed with three other walk-on punters in the preseason for the lone starting job on the Virginia Tech football team.
Etling, Meggs enjoying great year
It’s been a great year so far with more to come for a pair of longtime friends and St. Patrick’s School classmates.
Former Terre Haute resident Jack Meggs quarterbacked the Bellevue Wolverines football team to the Washington Class 3A state championship this fall, culminating with a 35-3 win over Sammamish Eastside Catholic — Bellevue’s fifth straight crown.
Danny Etling, meanwhile, has completed graduation requirements at Terre Haute South and is preparing for an upcoming high school all-star game and his first college classes in a couple of weeks.
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley’s women’s college hoops players start strong
Several women’s college basketball players from the Wabash Valley have gotten off to good starts this season on the hardwood. Highlights:
- More College Report Headlines
- College Report: Valley athletes helping Wabash College