TERRE HAUTE —
This column was falling into place nicely until about 1:15 p.m. Saturday. Then youth and inexperience reared up to bite it.
Its theme was going to be how the chief beneficiaries of this year’s Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic (just 363 days until the next one, if my math is right) were the three high school basketball teams from Vigo County.
Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South, by making it to the championship game together for just the second time in 14 Classics, both made strong statements about how they’ve improved, and West Vigo — after a very good win at Brown County, a solid showing against a good Owen Valley team, then a brilliant game against Shakamak — was going to make it three for three.
I don’t think Viking fans need further reminders of what happened on Saturday.
Besides the Braves and Patriots, however, the big winner was probably the Classic itself. After last season, when maybe a half dozen teams came into the tournament looking like state-championship hopefuls, there was apprehension that this year’s affair might pale by comparison. Sullivan and Linton were top-10 teams in Indiana’s Class 2A and Casey had a sparkling record of its own, but there weren’t many other bragging points — or many records above .500.
Let’s just say that the last two nights, particularly the four games involving North, South, Sullivan and Northview, were pretty good, and so were the crowds. I’ll still call it my best four days of the year, and here are some other observations, in no particular order.
• Good omen? — For the second straight Classic, Linton got knocked into the losers’ bracket. Last year, however, the Miners went on to the Class 2A state championship game, and coach Joey Hart’s rebuilding job seems to have been a good one.
• Pleasant surprise — Linton could be in the running for this prestigious honor too, but I’m going with Rockville. The brand-new Rox are way better than I expected, not to mention a lot of fun. For me, of course, fun and Keiontre’ Wilkey are pretty much synonymous.
• Freshmen to watch — I could segue here into Rockville’s Lance Hopkins, who looks like a star on the rise. But that’s another diversion, because my favorite pair are Marshall’s big, wide, athletic Spencer Shaffner and its penetrating guard Brock Finkbiner. I also like Josh Dieball of Linton; a foursome from Northview led by Dylan Hyatt and Drew Lumsdon; Jordan Lowe of Riverton Parke; Dylan Dirks of Robinson; Chandler Russell of South Vermillion; Jaylen Minnett and Josiah Wallace of South; and Tyler Kernstein, Ty Lautenschlager, Austin Sappingfield and Corey Vickers of West Vigo.
• Fans of the Classic — Folks from Rockville and Sullivan were there at the crack of dawn (figuratively speaking) on the first day, even though their respective teams played the last and next-to-last games. Nobody topped Lynn Branz, South Vermillion’s scorekeeper and team dad, however; he saw them all, and I think he was still there Sunday looking for a television to watch the Bears. He’s worthy of joining the top-row gang of Lew Drake and his buddies.
• Why the shirts? — If you were wondering why everyone from Marshall wore shirts on Thursday with “KB” on them, they were supporting coach Tom Brannan’s son Kobe; he’s awaiting his second heart transplant.
• Also special — Casey could have been reprimanded for having two players wearing No. 22, but no one seems to mind when the Warriors’ Taylor Yocom enters the game.
n Keep them on the floor — If there’s a record for players getting two first-quarter fouls, much to their coaches’ consternation, I would think that Sappingfield and North’s C.J. Brown are in contention for that mark.
• Sight I wasn’t expecting — Turkey Run’s 5-foot-6 Noah Nevins opening the Warriors’ first game guarding Sullivan’s massive Jake Kinnaman.
• Most unnecessary accoutrement — Linton’s Miner mascot is Micaela Hazlewood, and she wears padding to look muscular. Look up her discus and shot put stats to see what I mean.
• Trendy defense — The 1-3-1 zone isn’t exactly new, but no one solved Linton’s version the last three days of the tournament (Joey played in the same defense for his dad, when Joe’s Dugger Bulldogs nearly stole a Terre Haute Sectional about 20 years ago) and South (with 6-6 Timmy Herrin at the top) and North also used it effectively at times. There were other appearances of it as well.
• Worst stat-keeping job — That would be keeping track of minutes played for Linton (yes, I knew there’s a lot of Miner stuff in here; they are pretty fun too) because Joey subs a lot. Speaking conservatively, I’d say senior guard Ryan Woodward was in and out of the Miner lineup 100 times in four games.
• Interested spectator — Cloverdale’s Pat Rady was in attendance the first two days, perhaps hoping some other team would drop out so his Clovers — very good now, potentially loaded next year — could rejoin the Classic field.
Rady, of course, has passed Howard Sharpe on the all-time list of wins by a coach (even though I remain in the camp that says Howard’s own totals were more accurate than the “official” ones). I had a chance to talk with one of the Gerstmeyer players last week too, and Jack Smith (if I have to explain who he is, you haven’t lived in Terre Haute long enough) made it a point to say that Bill Welch should get some of the credit for those 700-plus victories by the way he prepared the Black Cats in practice.
Those are the best and most printable of the stories I came up with this time. Remember, less than 52 weeks and we can do it again.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at 812-231-4277 or 1-800-783-8742; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at 812-231-4321. Follow TribStarAndy on Twitter.
TERRE HAUTE —
This column was falling into place nicely until about 1:15 p.m. Saturday. Then youth and inexperience reared up to bite it.
- High School
Class 2A girls: Rick Risinger coaches Heritage to fifth state title
Rick Risinger spoke this past week about defense being the key to securing a win against a talented Fort Wayne Canterbury girls basketball squad in the Class 2A state championship game.
Coach Risinger’s Heritage Christian squad rose to the occasion Saturday in Hulman Center, holding the Cavaliers to 33-percent shooting to claim the school’s fifth state title since joining the IHSAA in 2003.
The Eagles won their first title since 2009 by a score of 64-61.
Class A girls: Oregon-Davis holds off Vincennes Rivet
Oregon-Davis jumped out to a 15-2 lead when senior Alicia McIntosh drilled a 3-pointer in Saturday’s Class A state championship for girls high school basketball.
The Bobcats stretched that lead to as large as 17 before halftime, and still led by double figures with three minutes remaining.
Class 3A girls: Western over Evansville Mater Dei 38-35
Like Fort Wayne Canterbury in the Class 2A championship, two-time defending Class 2A champion Evansville Mater Dei found the going much more tough when moving up one class due to the IHSAA’s “Team Success Factor” legislation.
Mater Dei (26-2), which had an average margin of victory of 27 points throughout the season, struggled against Western’s 2-3 zone all night long in falling to the Panthers 38-35.
Class 4A girls: Bedford North Lawrence wins second straight title
Damon Bailey guided Bedford North Lawrence to a second straight state championship in his first year as head coach.
Bailey, an assistant on the Stars’ unbeaten Class 4A champions in 2013, watched his team hold off a scrappy Penn squad for a 51-41 victory Saturday night.
Central Catholic rallies to defeat Rockville
It was an old story in a new location Saturday for the boys basketball team from Lafayette Central Catholic High School.
Clay City wins third straight sectional
Clay City, the two-time defending champion of the IHSAA Class A Sectional No. 57, took the floor at White River Valley High School with a chip on its shoulder Saturday night.
Linton pulls away late to win at North Knox
Defending smartly and playing the offensive tempo like a finely tuned violin, Linton’s Miners dominated the fourth quarter of a previously air-tight high school basketball game to defeat South Knox 57-45 and repeat as Class 2A Sectional 47 champions.
Damon Bailey among coaches directing daughters at Hulman Center on Saturday
Father-daughter bonding was among the themes Saturday at Hulman Center as Terre Haute played host to the IHSAA girls basketball state finals for a third straight year.
Class 4A title favorite Bedford North Lawrence looked to repeat as champions late Saturday night. Former BNL state champion and Indiana Hoosier great Damon Bailey led his Stars into the game with a pair of daughters on the court. Junior Alexa Bailey, wearing No. 22 of course, is a Butler recruit and sophomore Loren is a reserve for the Stars.
Owen Valley, Edgewood in sectional final again
Things haven’t changed that much in the Class 3A boys basketball sectional. Northview was in the field for the first time and hosted the semifinals Friday night. But for the second year in a row, Edgewood and Owen Valley will play for the Sectional 28 championship tonight.
Temples’ 3-pointers help Paris advance
The prudent thing would have been to pull the basketball out, wait for an opponent to foul and run as much clock as possible in the final minute of the Illinois Class 2A Westville Sectional on Friday night. Audie Temples was thinking dagger.
Ailing Wilkey helps Rockville advance to title game
For part of Friday, doubt existed about whether flu-stricken Rockville standout Keiontre’ Wilkey would be able to play in the first semifinal game of the Class A North Vermillion Sectional for boys basketball. The junior guard gutted it out, however, and tallied 17 points to help lead the Rox over the host high school 61-53. That sent them into tonight’s sectional championship game against No. 7-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic.
Preps: Late free throws help Linton beat North Knox
Linton hit 4 of 5 free throws in the final minute and hung on to defeat streaking North Knox 47-46 in the semifinals of the Class 2A North Knox Sectional for boys high school basketball.
Former Terre Haute resident Rick Risinger looking for fifth state title in Hulman Center
An accomplished group of girls basketball coaches will make their way into Hulman Center on Saturday for the IHSAA state finals.
Damon Bailey, 1990 Mr. Basketball for state champion Bedford North Lawrence and former Indiana University great, is the most familiar name to Hoosier basketball fanatics. In his first year as a girls varsity coach, Bailey leads BNL into action in the 4A state championship game.
With 590 career wins, Fort Wayne Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger is already a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Behind senior Miss Basketball candidate Maura Muensterman, Steve Goans leads Evansville Mater Dei into the Class 3A title game on the heels of consecutive 2A titles.
No answer: Spears scores 30 as Martinsvlle ends TH South’s season
Terre Haute South ran into a championship performance Wednesday night in Game 2 of the Class 4A Avon Sectional for boys high school basketball. Martinsville’s Troy Spears scored 30 points while leading the Artesians to a 65-44 victory that ended South’s season.
North falls to No. 5 Brownsburg in Class 4A Avon Sectional
Terre Haute North did not bow out of the boys high school basketball tournament Tuesday night like a team on a seven-game losing streak.
The Patriots executed their gameplan, battled back from a double-digit deficit and forced Class 4A No. 5-ranked Brownsburg to hit free throws to win the opener of the Class 4A Avon Sectional.
Brownsburg (19-2) hit six straight free throws in the final 1 minute, 15 seconds to hold off the Patriots 51-47.
Two sets of Eels win at WRV Sectional
There’ll be no Cinderella story in Dugger to end this boys high school basketball season, and a spirited upset bid also fell short Tuesday night at the Class A White River Valley Sectional.
Defensive pressure and depth made the difference in both games, as Eminence ended the Union season — perhaps its last, at least as a public school — by a 59-46 score and Clay City pulled away in the second half for a 53-44 win over Shakamak.
Paris knocks off 23-2 Clinton Central in overtime sectional thriller
Paris’ boys basketball team has learned a lot in a late-season run of success, but the one thing that set the Tigers apart on Tuesday in Class 2A Westville Sectional semifinal game was composure.
The Tigers never got rattled, never flinched and got the ultimate reward.
BOYS SECTIONAL ROUNDUP: Linton holds off Sullivan at North Knox
Linton and Eastern posted victories in the opening round of the North Knox Class 2A Sectional on Tuesday.
Linton led most of the way to defeat Sullivan 51-43 in the first game. Eastern Greene bested North Central 62-42 in the nightcap.
Linton is 16-6 and will take on North Knox and Eastern Greene faces South Knox in the semifinals on Friday. North Knox takes an 11-game winning streak into the action.
Tough roads ahead: Terre Haute North faces big challenges in its sectional
With the hope that the obligatory snow is already on the ground, high school boys basketball sectionals begin today in Indiana, and for one Wabash Valley team in Illinois.
South swimmers fall short of lofty goals at state finals
Sometimes the journey is more rewarding than the destination.
That would best describe Terre Haute South’s performances Saturday in the 77th annual IHSAA boys swimming and diving state championships at the IU Natatorium.
Center Grove deals Terre Haute North 7th loss in row
Terre Haute North and Center Grove – two teams that haven’t won much lately – struggled to put the finishing touch against the other on Friday at North.
Prep roundup: Casey falls at Robinson Regional; Paris posts upset win at home
Teutopolis finished strong Friday night to defeat Casey 47-36 and win the Robinson Class 2A Regional for boys basketball teams.
Casey, Paris to play in regional title games
Championships of Illinois regional boys high school basketball tournaments will be decided tonight.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Bringing you the Amey Teams for girls basketball
Our Wabash Valley teams won’t be represented when the Indiana girls state basketball finals return again to Hulman Center on March 8 (even though the Class 4A title will probably be decided this weekend when Lawrence North plays Bedford North Lawrence in a semistate game).
I wish some of our girls teams had been able to play longer for a purely selfish reason: that might have given me an opportunity to see one or two of their games.
South boys fall to Southport, finish regular season 8-14
Terre Haute South got an up-close look Thursday night at what a Conference Indiana championship boys basketball team looks like. And Southport is big and quick.
Southport, led by 6-foot-10 sophomore Joey Brunk and junior guard Malik Bennett overpowered South’s Braves 61-49 at Southport Fieldhouse. Brunk had 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Bennett scored 21 points.
VIDEO: Wilhelm leads South swimmers into state finals
Christian Wilhelm plans to compete in the distance freestyle when he gets to the University of Illinois-Chicago’s downtown campus.
Wilhelm emerged as a state qualifier in the 500-yard freestyle and 200 freestyle as a junior for Terre Haute South. But his senior season took a different turn and he’s hoping to make a big splash in a new event.
Casey advances to regional title game
Casey will be in the championship game of the Class 2A Robinson Regional for boys high school basketball teams Friday night. The Warriors gained their spot in the title tilt with a 55-42 victory over Marshall on Wednesday.
Cloverdale joins Pizza Hut Classic field
The Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic has a new team, but the newcomer for the 2014 tournament is led by a familiar name to Terre Haute basketball. Pat Rady’s Cloverdale Clovers, currently 19-1 this season, will join the field as a likely contender.
Preps: Northview rallies past Linton in boys basketball
Ethan Whitson, Christian Ellis and Jim Mace tallied 19, 18 and 10 points respectively as host Northview overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Linton 62-57 in boys high school basketball Wednesday night.
Terre Haute North plays well but doesn't finish at Bedford North Lawrence
Visiting Terre Haute North did everything but win a nonconference high school basketball game Tuesday at Bedford North Lawrence.
The Patriots shot better, dominated the boards and reversed the game’s momentum with a second-half defensive adjustment, but only once got the lead above a one-possession one. That cost North in the end, when the Stars scored the last six points to win 42-38.
- More High School Headlines
- Class 2A girls: Rick Risinger coaches Heritage to fifth state title