MARSHALL, Ill. —
By Andy Amey
Tribune-Star • Marshall, Ill.
Even though Marshall’s Lions came almost out of nowhere to have the best girls basketball record in the school’s history last winter, the players weren’t all that surprised, a couple of them recalled this week.
The fact that this year’s team has a chance to do even better, despite the graduation of three solid starters from the 25-2 team of a year ago, might be a little more unexpected — or maybe not.
The team’s formula for success remains pretty much the same, after all.
“They work well together as a team,” coach Kathy Miller said this week. “They play aggressive defense, and they’re very unselfish. They just want to win.”
Miller may have made identical statements a year ago. The 2011-2012 Lions were a nicely balanced group with four of their five starters at least 5-foot-10.
“Last year we knew we would be a really strong team,” junior forward Kaydie Grooms remembered, “because we were taller and stronger than everybody else … but [this year] we were losing our two posts [5-10 Emily Bishop and 5-11 Alexis Thompson] and our point guard [5-8 Erika Kuhn].”
The 5-11 Grooms and 5-11 1/2 senior Ariana Kuhn are pretty adaptable, as it turns out, in addition to being the team’s top two scorers a year ago. Joined in the regular lineup this year by 5-9 1/2 junior Abbie Switzer, 5-3 junior Breah Keim, 5-7 junior Tonia Bishop and 5-7 sophomore reserve Cheyenne Thompson, the two returnees have led the Lions to an 18-1 start as they played for the Little Illini Conference Tournament championship late Thursday night.
The new starters haven’t missed a beat, Ariana Kuhn said this week.
“Last year they helped us [in more limited roles],” she pointed out. “They’re excellent players.”
“They were scrimmaging against us last year, every day,” Grooms added, “and every practice was intense, so that really helped.”
Marshall isn’t quite as balanced as it was a year ago, because Grooms — who finished strong to become the team’s leading scorer then — has continued to blossom. She was averaging 21.7 points going into Tuesday’s LIC semifinal game, while adding 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game and blocking 19 shots.
Keim, whose long-range shooting gives the Lions a different dimension, is scoring 10.4 points per game while the wonderfully versatile Ariana Kuhn — who played guard last year, post this season — is at 9.9 points and 7.1 rebounds while leading the team in assists (3.6 per game) and blocked shots (27).
As indicated earlier, the team attitude is identical to last year’s, though.
“It’s awesome … being able to have a team this successful and being able to work well together this nicely,” Kuhn said this week.
“These two years have been incredible,” Grooms agreed. “No drama, just good teammates who want to win.”
The scoring explosion, Grooms added, has been almost accidental.
“Going into a game, I don’t feel I need to get 25 points,” she said. “The team just works well together, and [the points] just happen.”
Last year’s Lions lost only to Mt. Carmel, at the Robinson Thanksgiving Tournament, and to perennial power Teutopolis.
The T-town loss, however, was in the regional championship game. Miller’s second Marshall team, in 1989-90, was 20-4 but advanced to sectional play.
This year’s regional will be at Marshall and will include Robinson, Lawrenceville, Newton and Casey. If the Lions can survive that — they beat Newton by four points earlier this season — they could be at the Newton Sectional, and probably see both Mt. Carmel (the only team to beat them this year, by four points) and Teutopolis again.
“I like our draw a lot,” Grooms said. “My main goal is to have us win our regional. I’d be excited to face T-town or Mt. Carmel again.”
“I would like to say we’ll be winning the regional,” Kuhn answered when asked what she saw in her team’s future, “and then go on to the sectional, or even farther.”
Her program’s recent success might continue a while longer, Miller hopes. The current juniors have been playing summer basketball together for almost 10 years now — “since we were as little as you can play,” Grooms said — and both the seventh- and eighth-graders at Marshall have strong teams.
“And I’ve got Dan [Wilson] now, and he’s an excellent assistant coach,” Miller added. “Since he’s joined us, I probably have gotten a lot smarter.”
MARSHALL, Ill. —
By Andy Amey
- High School
PREP ROUNDUP: North girls tennis wins 5-0 at Plainfield
Terre Haute North’s girls tennis team swept its opening match of the high school season as it defeated Plainfield 5-0 on Wednesday.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Loss of Coach Bennett leaves hole in Marshall
My email box is a little less busy now, and there’ll be a familiar face missing on basketball trips to Marshall in the future.
Roncalli fights past North Central in extra innings on way to Braves Bash title
Roncalli became a three-time Gold Bracket champion of the sixth annual Braves Bash high school softball tournament at Terre Haute’s Miss Softball America complex Saturday night by defeating Evansville Mater Dei 7-1 in the title game.
The 12-team round-robin tournament, which started Friday evening with three pools, and concluded with bracket championships Saturday night.
Sullivan enjoys record golf day at Northview Invitational
Sullivan and No. 1 player Nathan Pirtle were top finishers in the Northview Invitational for high school boys golf teams played Saturday at Forest Park.
TH North loses to McCutcheon, beats Harrison (West Lafayette)
Terre Haute North bounced back from a big loss to host McCutcheon to defeat Harrison (West Lafayette) in a pair of high school baseball games Saturday.
The Mavericks defeated the Patriots 17-7 early Saturday, but North beat the Raiders 9-4 later in the day.
West Vigo baseball drops first two in Center Grove Classic
West Vigo hammered the baseball all over the field and had a double-digit lead through three innings early in the week at Seeger before rain washed it out short of a complete game.
TH South sweeps MIC baseball doubleheader
Justin Jenkins and Timmy Herrin led visiting Terre Haute South to a sweep of a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference high school baseball doubleheader Saturday at Indianapolis North Central.
Opening their final MIC season, the Braves won the opener 9-6 and the nightcap 8-6.
Braves Softball Bash a 'premier' early-season tournament
The Braves Softball Bash has grown to 12 schools in 2014, with high school teams looking to gauge their early-season progress against quality competition.
The host Braves have put together a solid 3-1 start that includes a doubleheader sweep of Casey, Ill., a newcomer to the field along with West Vigo.
Golf season gets going Saturday with Northview Invitational
Most high school boys golf teams in the area will get the season started Saturday in the Northview Invitational at Forest Park.
New players will be in the lineups for many of the teams. Sullivan and Greencastle are the leaders in returning players.
PREP ROUNDUP: Allen homers in North softball win
Jazmine Allen had her first home run of the season and she and Conner Nelson combined for five hits and four RBIs as Terre Haute North defeated Sullivan 8-1 on Thursday in nonconference high school softball.
PREP ROUNDUP: South offense leads Braves to dominant win over Lincoln
Justin Jenkins had three hits and Jacob Johnson and Zach Donnelly drove in four runs apiece as Terre Haute South rolled to a 15-2 high school baseball victory Wednesday at Vincennes Lincoln.
Terre Haute North tops Sullivan, falls to Class A No. 1 Shakamak
Class A No. 1-ranked Shakamak got a big pitching performance and big hits from Braxton and Brett Yeryar Tuesday night while beating Terre Haute North 5-2 at Don Jennings Field.
Prep roundup: West Vigo softball wins in 4 1/2 innings
Charity Lane, Shelby Edington, Baylee Waters and Leah Morrison each had two hits and Lane knocked in three runs to lead West Vigo past visiting Turkey Run 13-2 in a run-rule high school softball game that went 4 1/2 innings Tuesday.
Terre Haute South cruises to Braves Bash title
Terre Haute South knew it had a deep pitching staff going into the 11th annual Braves Bash baseball tournament and that proved to be true. But the Braves’ offense surprised everyone but the players Saturday as South won two 10-run-rule games en route to the championship.
South defeated Mount Vernon 10-0 Saturday morning and capped the championship with a 14-4, come-from-behind victory over Munster in the finale.
PREP ROUNDUP: Collett homers as North splits doubleheader
Sophomore T.J. Collett hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning in the first game of a doubleheader as Terre Haute North opened its high school baseball season with a 9-3 victory over host Hamilton Southeastern on Saturday.
The Patriots lost the nightcap 6-0 after three first-inning errors led to three unearned runs.
Metro sports: Locks of Love tournament today at Memorial Stadium
The Indiana State Women’s Soccer team will host its annual Locks of Love tournament today. The 4th annual event will begin at 9 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.
PREP TRACK PREVIEW: Raetz, Holman among new coaches
Two new coaches are in charge among the eight Vigo County and Northview high school track teams in 2014, although one of them isn’t really that new.
Mark Raetz has taken over the Northview boys for Chad Smith, who is battling an illness. Raetz formerly headed the Terre Haute South boys program for two seasons.
Metro sports: ISU blanks Austin Peay in 6-plus innings
Indiana State’s baseball team posted another mid-week victory Wednesday night as four pitchers combined to throw a three-hit shutout and lead a 3-0 victory over Austin Peay State at Bob Warn Field.
Season preview: Vigo County, Northview baseball teams ready to roll
To no one’s surprise, Wabash Valley baseball fans don’t have to leave Vigo County — although they certainly could, as described later in this article — to find talented baseball players on the high school diamond this spring.
Terre Haute North has a quartet of .300 hitters returning — Zach Milam, Jonathan Eilbracht, Nathan Will and Lane Dransfield — in addition to super sophomore T.J. Collett, who led the Patriots with a team-best 50 runs batted in for the 24-7 Patriots last season. Collett hit .424 with six doubles, two triples and nine home runs as a freshman.
PREP ROUNDUP: Marlow's 10 RBI leads Braves' softball at Casey
Terre Haute South’s Kelsey Marlow had 10 runs-batted-in during a doubleheader sweep at Casey.
Metro sports: ISU’s Stone, Riemenschneider honored by MVC
Indiana State junior Megan Stone and freshman Brooke Riemenschneider each earned Missouri Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honors, according to an announcement from the league office Monday.
Girls state finals leaving Terre Haute
The IHSAA and city of Terre Haute are still on excellent terms, insists Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Dave Patterson. But that didn’t keep the girls basketball state finals from returning to Indianapolis in 2015 after a three-year stint with Terre Haute’s Hulman Center serving as the host venue.
TH South comes out swinging in softball opener
The combination of experience and talent has created great expectations, from both the fans and players, for the Terre Haute South High School softball team. The Braves displayed both Friday afternoon in an impressive 11-4 season-opening victory over host Southmont.
SOFTBALL PREVIEW: Big Four teams looking to build off strong 2013 seasons
Although any of the four would have liked more postseason success, the spring of 2013 was a good one for the Big Four high school softball teams. That’s good news.
Even better news for the three Vigo County teams is that very few seniors who contributed to that success are missing, and hopes are even higher this year.
Til it's over: Long wait finally over for first-year West Vigo baseball coach
My sincerest apology if I jinx it, but winter should be done now. This means, first and foremost, baseball season has arrived. It’s been a long winter for Culley DeGroote, in particular. He takes over the West Vigo program that his father Steve DeGroote built into a perennial winner.
Metro sports: Silver Crown field filling up for Action Track
More than a dozen drivers are scheduled to seek their initial U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown championship victory April 6 when the Sumar Classic is run at the Terre Haute Action Track.
Amey Takes Aim: Columnist’s boys basketball tradition continues
In marked contrast to my recent whiny column about girls basketball, I was blessed this winter to see virtually every high school team in the Wabash Valley during the boys season.
Some might suggest that was a mixed blessing, since a few of our teams weren’t as successful as they are used to being (particularly in the 2014 portion of the season), but the Tribune-Star was still involved with two teams that came within a game of the state finals, one of them in an Indiana final four (no capitalization anymore, new system) and two teams that were in the top eight of their class. That’s only three great teams — Paris was both a game away and in the final eight — but that’s still a pretty good haul.
Metro sports: Rose's Stull, Schultheis earn HCAC honors
Rose-Hulman took two Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honors this week, with Andrew Stull and Austin Schultheis recognized for their work over the weekend.
Clay City's special season ends in semistate loss to No. 1 Barr-Reeve
A slow start led to a quick end of the Clay City boys high school basketball season on Saturday afternoon.
Top-ranked Barr-Reeve scored the first eight points of the game, led 22-4 after one quarter and hit 34 of 40 free throws to win the Class A semistate title 75-55 over Clay City at Seymour.
Lombard leads ISU baseball to win at Evansville
Brad Lombard pitched a complete game Saturday at Braun Field as Indiana State knotted up its first Missouri Valley Conference baseball series of the season by beating Evansville 4-1.
- More High School Headlines
- PREP ROUNDUP: North girls tennis wins 5-0 at Plainfield