By Joey Bennett
TERRE HAUTE —
Austin Akers hoped to land a Division I scholarship two years ago following a standout high school career at Northview, but that goal wasn’t achieved at that time.
Following a successful two-year stop at Olney Central College, the dream has finally come true for Akers as the 6-2 combo guard will join the Eastern Illinois Panthers of the Ohio Valley Conference next year.
Akers averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 assists per game this season in helping the Blue Knights to an 18-13 record.
He earned all-Great Rivers Athletic Conference and all-Region 24 honors for his outstanding season.
Akers chose EIU over Texas Christian, Evansville, Illinois-Chicago, Cal State-Northridge, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and Northwestern State.
“I feel it is the best fit for me and I like their style of play,” Akers said. “They have recruited me from the beginning of my career in Olney, and I have grown close with the coaching staff.
“It also has a great campus and a good education,” added Akers, who will major in pre-dentistry. “Their plans are to use me as a combo guard (1 or 2) just whatever they need.”
Olney coach Mike Burris worked hard to get Akers to come to his school, watching him play a staggering total of 11 times in his senior year at Northview.
“Austin had a great two years for us,” Burris said. “He started all 62 games and scored about 800 points. He’s a great point guard who knows how to play.”
One of the highlights of Akers’ sophomore year and OCC career came in February in an upset win at Lake Land.
In that game, Olney trailed by 17 points with 10 minutes left, but battled back to tie the game in the final minute. Lake Land missed a shot in the closing seconds, and OCC’s P.J. Alston pulled down the defensive rebound and fired an outlet pass to Akers, who was fouled at the buzzer on a drive to the basket.
Akers’ game-winning free throw rolled around the rim before falling through.
Burris said that Akers had “a lot” of interest from Division I schools, and is happy he’ll be staying closely.
“I think he made a great choice going to the right level,” he said. “The Ohio Valley is a great league.”
Burris thinks Akers will have a good chance at playing time early next season. EIU finished the year 9-20 and had a similar season to Olney.
“They were like us in the amount of injuries they incurred during the year,” Burris said. “We’re gonna miss Austin, but he’s close enough that we can see him play the next two years.
“We are thrilled for Austin and his family as well as Eastern, who did a great job recruiting him,” he added. “The Wabash Valley has been good to us and hopefully we can keep that pipeline active.”
• Brinkley honored — Paris, Ill., native Chase Brinkley closed out his Olney Central College career by being named as one of two Sportsmanship Award winners by the Great Rivers Athletic Conference.
Brinkley averaged 9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists this year. Coach Burris said he is still weighing options for continuing his career next season.
Terre Haute South grad John Michael Jarvis will return next year for his sophomore season and will join redshirt freshman Thomas Anderson of Terre Haute North as Valley members of Olney’s men’s team.
• Screaming Eagles fall in regional — The 12th-ranked University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker in the first round of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional, 65-64, to Drury University in Louisville, Ky.
USI, the second seed, finished the season with a 24-6 overall record under the direction of Paris native Rodney Watson, while Drury, the seventh seed, continued on in the post-season with a 23-7 mark.
The Screaming Eagles came out cold in the first half, hitting only one of its first seven shots and gave the Panthers an early 11-point lead, 14-3. USI cut the lead in half before Drury produced its largest lead of the first 20 minutes, 20-8, with 12:22 left in the opening half.
Shakamak graduate Jared Rehmel closed out his collegiate career with six points and three rebounds off the bench in 19 minutes of action.
• Valley trio at KWC — Three Wabash Valley area high school graduates have moved from the Illinois junior college ranks to become teammates at Division II Kentucky Wesleyan College.
Jacki Porter of North Central made her way to KWC after a standout career at Wabash Valley College, while Clay County natives Traci Sanders of Northview and Angie Camp of Clay City each had excellent careers at Olney Central before becoming members of the Panther program.
Porter was an all-Great Rivers Athletic Conference performer and a NJCAA Academic All-American last year at WVC. She led the team in home runs with three, was second in hitting at .441 and doubles with 12, was third in hits with 49 and fourth in runs-batted-in with 26.
So far this season, Porter is hitting .206 with four RBI.
Sanders was also an all-Great Rivers Athletic Conference performer last year, and led the Knights with a .442 batting average and runs batted in with 47. She had a school record 76 hits in 172 plate appearances with 11 doubles and 31 runs.
This year, she hit .227 with a double and a triple before suffering a foot injury that will sideline her for a month.
Camp batted .353 as a sophomore at Olney, getting 61 hits in 173 plate appearances with 31 runs, 10 doubles, one homer and 27 RBI.
This year, Camp is second on the team in hitting at .316 with two doubles and one RBI.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil.
Where are they now?
Jarrod Brett, men’s ass’t coach, Franklin — Helped coach team to 8-17 record.
Andy Cochrane, Fr., Franklin — Played in seven games, did not score.
Elyse Weddle, Fr., Hanover — Played in 23 games, averaging 2.7 points and 1.2 rebounds.
Brent Owen, men’s graduate assistant coach, Southern Indiana — Helped coach team to 24-6 record, No. 12 national ranking and appearance in NCAA Tournament.
Mike Carpenter, men’s head coach, Danville Area CC — Finished his seventh year as head coach of the Jaguars.
Olivia Wells, Fr., St. Mary-of-the-Woods — Played in seven games, averaging 0.6 points.
Mike Roberts (former Terre Haute resident), men’s assistant coach, Rice — Helped coach team to 14-18 record.
Jake Kelly (former Marshall resident), Sr., Indiana State — Ranked fourth on team in scoring at 8.8 points, also averaged 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
Ryan Russell (former Turkey Run student), Sr., DePauw — Started 6 of 26 games, averaged 2.9 points and 3.5 rebounds.
Kelly Meggs (former Terre Haute North player), Fr., California-Irvine — Averaged 2.7 points and 1.3 rebounds while shooting 39.8 percent from 3-point range before ending season early due to shoulder surgery.
Jon Prevo, women’s head coach, Rose-Hulman — Coached team to 10-16 record.
Logan Eitel, Fr., Indiana State — Played in 10 games and scored five points.
Lucas Eitel, Fr., Indiana State — Played in 21 games and averaged 0.8 points.
Andrew Gilman, Sr., Wabash — Averaged 1.5 points and 0.5 rebounds.
Donnie Abrams, So., Marian — Played in four games and averaged 1.0 points.
Siona Taft, So. Lincoln Trail — Joined team midway through season as a walk-on, averaged 0.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.5 assists.
Josiah Brock, Jr., Lincoln Christian — No information available.
Kirstin Kimball, So., Danville Area CC — Averaged 4.7 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Austin Akers, So., Olney Central — Led team in scoring at 14 points per game and averaged 4.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds. Named first-team all-Great Rivers Athletic Conference and all-Region 24.
Samantha Stahl, Sr., Oakland City — Led team in scoring and passed 1,000 point career mark.
Jared Maners, Sr., Oakland City — Led team in scoring at 15.0 points.
Antonio Marshall, Jr., Olivet Nazarene — Ranked second on team in scoring at 13.7 points.
Heather Gonser, So., Indianapolis — Averaged 7.7 points and 2.5 rebounds.
Nickole Gonser, So., Indianapolis — Averaged 3.7 points and team-high 5.7 rebounds.
Randy Lientz, Fr, Oakland CIty — Averaged 5.6 points per game and 1.8 rebounds.
Cody Vest, Fr., Indianapolis — Played in 24 games, starting three, averaging 3.5 points and 1.8 rebounds.
Kaitlyn Sweatman, Fr., Missouri-St. Louis — Started two of 27 games, averaging 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds.
Rodney Watson, head men’s coach, Southern Indiana — Coached team to 24-6 record, No. 12 national ranking and appearance in NCAA Tournament.
Emily Maggert, Sr., Ball State — Named to Mid-American Conference third team. Led team in scoring (14.6), rebounding (251) and blocks (31). Holds school record for single-season rebounds (329), ranks fourth all-time in career rebounds (933), ranks third all-time in career scoring (1,691), ranks third all-time in free throws made (389) and ranks fourth all-time in career field goals (611). Ended her career with 29 double-doubles.
Chase Brinkley, So., Olney Central — Averaged 9.0 points and 1.8 assists.
Josh Wilson, Fr., Ancilla — Averaged 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Stephen Jones, Fr., St. Louis Christian College — Statistics not available.
Meyers Leonard, Fr., Illinois — Has played in 32 of 33 games, starting one. Averaging 2.1 points and 1.3 rebounds.
Ben Jones, Fr., Lincoln Land — Averaged 5.4 points.
R.J. Mahurin, Fr., Indiana State — Played in all 34 games, averaging 4.3 points and 1.6 rebounds.
Jared Rehmel, Sr., Southern Indiana — Played in all 30 games off the bench, averaging 7.1 points and 2.5 assists.
Billy Newton, Fr., Oakland City — Started 20 of 28 games, averaging 7.3 points and 3.5 rebounds.
Casey Fougerousse, Fr., DePauw — Played in three games, did not score.
Marki Collins, Fr., Olney Central — Averaged 4.2 points and 3.5 rebounds.
Lou Gudino, men’s assistant coach, Indiana State — Helped coach team to 20-14 record, Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship, and appearance in NCAA Tournament.
Jenni McLeish, Jr., St. Mary-of-the-Woods — Started 18 of 26 games, averaging 3.7 points and 1.5 rebounds.
Terre Haute North
John Grimes (Gerstmeyer H.S), men’s head coach, Marian — Coached team to 16-11 record.
Clint Weddle, women’s associate head coach, Indiana State — Helped coach team to 16-16 record.
Nate Blank, Sr., Indianapolis — Played in just nine games, starting one, due to two knee injuries. Averaged 8.0 points.
Samantha Meissel, Sr., Indianapolis — Led team in scoring at 18.8 points per game and averaged 4.5 rebounds before being dismissed from team.
Molly Martin, Sr., Hanover — Led team in scoring at 18.1 and in rebounding at 9.7. Team lost in first round of NCAA tournament. Finished career as school’s leading career scorer and rebounder. Named HCAC Player of the Year, and was first-team all-HCAC for the fourth straight year. Named to all-Great Lakes Region third team by d3hoops.com.
Thomas Anderson, Fr., Olney Central — Sat out season as a medical redshirt after suffering shoulder injury.
David White, Fr., Ancilla — Averaged 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds.
Francesca McCarthy, Fr., Holy Cross (Ind.) — Played in all 31 games, starting one, averaged 1.7 points and 0.9 rebounds.
Terre Haute South
Jim Shaw, men’s head coach, Rose-Hulman — Coached team to 16-10 record this season.
Melanie Boeglin, women’s assistant coach, Indiana State — Helped coach team to 16-16 record.
Brooke Daugherty, Sr., Indiana-South Bend — Averaged 3.9 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Spencer Harlan, Jr., Rose-Hulman –Averaged 5.6 points and 3.1 rebounds.
Megan Craft, Jr., Ball State — Played in 27 games, starting two, and averaged 3.5 points while shooting 54 percent from 3-point range.
Randa Rector, So., Vincennes — Averaged 2.2 points and 2.2 assists.
Tessa Johnson, So., Marshall — Played in 29 games, starting five, averaging 3.4 points per game and 1.1 rebounds.
D.J. Shouse, So., Lincoln Trail — Averaged 10.7 points and 1.5 rebounds.
Jake Odum, Fr., Indiana State — Started 31 of 34 games, scored 9.3 points per game, averaged 4.0 assists per game. Named to all-Newcomer, all-Freshman and honorable mention all-Missouri Valley Conference teams.
Dragana Grbic, Fr., Butler — Played in 16 games, starting none, averaged 1.6 and 36 minutes in five games, averaging 1.8 points and 0.6 rebound.
John Michael Jarvis, Fr., Olney Central — Ranked second on team in scoring at 11.7 points per game, averaging 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists before missing last month due to wrist injury.
Ike Worrell, Fr., Oakland City — Played in 10 games, starting one, averaged 2.0 points and 2.2 rebounds.
Jacob Tanoos, Fr., Illinois Central — Averaged 1.3 points and 1.7 rebounds.
Joey Etling, Fr., Wabash — Played in two games, did not score.
Meghan Doss, So., Vincennes — Averaged 2.2 points and 1.7 assists.
White River Valley
Matthew Graves, men’s assistant coach, Butler — Has helped coach team to 24-9 record through Friday’s games.
Jared Shelton, Fr., IU-Southeast — Sat out season as a redshirt.
Alicia Tally, Fr., Olney Central — Averaged 6.7 rebounds and 3.1 rebounds.