TERRE HAUTE —
All things considered, it wasn’t the worst time to be without a working scoreboard.
Lightning on Friday had rendered both scoreboards at Memorial Stadium useless for Saturday night’s ninth annual Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game, so the fans on hand got to watch two evenly matched teams go back and forth.
But even though the statistics were even enough, the score wasn’t. An opportunistic Gold team, led by a pair of Vigo County players in seemingly unlikely positions, scored in each of the first three quarters and won the game 18-0, posting the first shutout in the history of the event.
Hard-hitting defense was on display all night by both teams — the dozen or so outstanding running backs in the game averaged less than two yards per carry cumulatively, for example — and the first 10 plays of the game netted two yards. But on a third-and-13 play on Gold’s second series, quarterback Colin Smith of Cascade dropped back and fired a bomb to Terre Haute North’s Charles Dillahunt.
That play didn’t set the tone for the game as much as the ensuing series did. Black marched to three first downs, easily the best drive of the first quarter, only to have a sack and tackle for a loss — West Vigo’s Danny Creasey contributing to both — force a fourth-and-19 punt.
Gold got a pair of big plays from the passing combination of Sullivan’s Payne Fortner to Edgewood’s Derek Driver on its next series — a 42-yarder to get the team out of the shadow of its goal posts, a fingertip grab for a touchdown a few plays later — and now the score was 12-0.
And again Black drove down the field, picking up three first downs only to be stymied by back-to-back pass rushes from Turkey Run’s Riley Sunderman and North Putnam’s Eric Davis.
“We’d just stall out on a drive,” Black coach Jim Sullivan of Casey said after the game. “Mistakes. Little breakdowns here and there.”
“It’s tough coming out here. We’ve never played with some of these guys,” added the Black team’s quarterback Nick Gilliam of Greencastle. “From day one [of all-star practice] we made a tremendous [improvement] … but some didn’t bounce our way.”
Back-to-back interceptions late in the second quarter by Gold’s Chris Neidlinger of West Vigo and Black’s Luke Clapp of Tri-County (in the end zone) kept the score 12-0 by halftime, and in the third quarter Black again started to march.
Big runs by Jesse Miller of Northview, Gilliam and Dalton Livvix of Casey picked up first downs. A fourth-down option run by Gilliam picked up another, at Gold’s 22-yard line.
But Owen Valley’s Caleb Arthur snuffed a first-down run, and on third down Gilliam scrambled but only back to the line of scrimmage — a key point since Creasey, who made the stop, needed one more sack for an all-star record.
“I got two [sacks] and six tackles,” he said in mock disgust afterward, and he’d gotten the two sacks early. Better known as a Viking running back during the season — although he did see some defensive line action — the 180-pounder found himself double-teamed after that.
On fourth down, Gilliam went to the air, and his pass went off a receiver’s hands to Terre Haute North’s Vasco Billberry. The All-Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference linebacker was playing safety on Saturday, and he returned the pick 69 yards into Black territory. Two plays later his Patriot teammate Brother Scank capped the scoring with a 17-yard run.
Billberry added another interception — also off the hands of a Black receiver — in the fourth quarter, and also saw some action offensively at fullback. He caught one pass and also took a handoff, then dealt an option pitchout to Scank.
“I had a lot of fun,” Billberry said afterward. “I never got a chance to [play safety] in my conference … and the coaches told me for every turnover, I got the ball [on offense].”
“His interceptions were big,” noted Gold coach Brian Crabtree of North Vermillion. “Anytime you win the turnover battle, that increases your chances of winning.”
Those last two interceptions were the culmination of what could have been a frustrating night for Gilliam, who had at least half a dozen passes go off receivers’ hands.
“That’s gonna happen,” he said philosophically. “I’ve had plenty of games where guys were doing diving, one-hand catches for me too.”
Miller was the game’s leading rusher, while Scank’s statistics for Gold didn’t reflect his importance — or, as usual, the number of defenders he knocked backward instead of going around them. For his work during the week, he received one of the coaches choice scholarships awarded by Sir Thomas Automotive.
“I just did what I always do,” Scank said. “I knew this was the last time I’d play high school football, so I gave everything I got.”
Often banged up during the 2012 Patriot season, Scank also seemed healthy Saturday — including hurdling several tacklers with a spectacular leap in the waning seconds of the first half.
“I felt good all week,” he agreed.
“The kids played with really good intensity and great enthusiasm,” Crabtree said. “[Winning] capped a great week overall.”
“It was a blast,” said Creasey. “This was the last time I’ll play football, so I went all out. We had the first shutout ever; we made history.”
“It was all about fun,” Billberry added. “We were here to win and we won.”
“They’re great kids and they all have bright futures,” Sullivan said. “This is a fantastic opportunity for area kids to get a chance to play in this game.”
n Other winners — The other coaches choice scholarship went to Shawn McCown of Casey, while the Pete Varda Hall of Fame Scholarships chosen by players’ votes went to Dillon Bell of Terre Haute South and Dante Rehmel of North Central. The 2013 Hall of Fame class of David “Pudge” Bennett, Nick Mourouzis and Dick Ranard helped present those honors.
And for the second straight year the Derek Eitel Memorial Scholarship for academic achievements went to more than one player: Clapp, Matt Schmidlin of Palestine-Hutsonville and Jordan Hahn of Olney all finished their high school careers as valedictorians with 4.0 grade-point averages and were captains of their respective high school teams.
n Injuries — Driver was one of Gold’s busiest players, needing to play cornerback in addition to punting and catching passes.
West Vigo’s Andy Velazquez suffered a dislocated ankle and broke some bones in his leg during a Tuesday practice — he was in surgery Wednesday and in a wheelchair for festivities Friday and Saturday — and Linton’s Koye Kaiser took a big hit on the game’s opening kickoff and was sidelined the rest of the night. Either or both could have been in the defensive backfield.
On the other side of the Velazquez coin, West Vigo’s Ethan Boatman saw plenty of action at linebacker Saturday — his first game action since being injured in the Vikings’ season opener against Evansville Harrison back in August.
Gold 18, Black 0
Black 0 0 0 0 — 0
Gold 6 6 6 0 — 18
G — Charles Dillahunt (Terre Haute North) 51 pass from Colin Smith (Cascade) (kick failed)
G — Derek Driver (Edgewood) 14 pass from Payne Fortner (Sullivan) (kick failed)
G — Brother Scank (Terre Haute North) 17 run (pass failed)
First downs 14 9
Rushes-yards 36-89 27-50
Passing yards 93 150
Comp-Att-Int 12-26-3 10-13-1
Return yards 6 119
Punts-avg 2-38 3-33
Fumbles-lost 0 0
Penalties-yards 3-14 2-10
Rushing: Black — Jesse Miller (Northview) 4-31, Dalton Livvix (Casey) 6-21, Jordan Hahn (Olney) 3-15, Ajaye Meeks (Casey) 5-12, Jon Duniphan (Cumberland) 3-6, Nick Gilliam (Greencastle) 10-6, Stewart Arp (Paris) 2-4, Matt Schmidlin (Palestine-Hutsonville) 1-1, Sterling Langley (Union) 1-minus 5, team 1-minus 2. Gold — Scank 13-29, Smith 5-16, Eric Bobadilla (Cascade) 1-8, Kody Zumwalt (North Vermillion) 1-6, Fortner 5-6, Jacob Creasey (West Vigo) 1-2, team 1-minus 17.
Passing: Black — Gilliam 12-26-3, 93 yards; Meeks 0-1-0, 0; Gold — Fortner 7-9-1, 84 yards, Smith 3-4-0, 66 yards.
Receiving: Black — Skyler Hartbank (Mattoon) 3-8, Meeks 2-13, Gerald Richardson (Oblong) 1-31, Schmidlin 1-8, Langley 1-8, Mac Shuee (Greencastle) 1-7, Arp 1-6, Keaton Neeley (Oblong) 1-6, Joseph Eckert (Palestine-Hutsonville) 1-6. Gold — Driver 3-66, Zumwalt 3-17, Scank 2-11, Dillahunt 1-51, Vasco Billberry (Terre Haute North) 1-5.
Punting: Black — Jeremy Patterson (Terre Haute South) 2-76; Gold — Driver 3-99.
Punt returns: Black — Austin Weck (Robinson) 1-6, Eckert 1-0; Gold — Scank 2-20.
Kickoff returns: Black — Weck 3-45, Dillon Bell (Terre Haute South) 1-10; Gold — Koye Kaiser (Linton) 1-14.
Interception returns: Black — Luke Clapp (Tri-County) 1-0; Gold — Billberry 2-97, Chris Neidlinger (West Vigo) 1-2.
TERRE HAUTE —
All things considered, it wasn’t the worst time to be without a working scoreboard.
- High School
Linton, Clay City coaches pulling for each other Saturday in IHSAA basketball regionals
The only Wabash Valley boys basketball teams remaining in the IHSAA state tournament are the two that tied for first place in the SouthWestern Indiana Athletic Conference.
Linton (Class 2A) and Clay City (Class A) each finished 7-1 in the SWIAC. Clay City handed Linton its only conference loss Feb. 18, a 58-50 decision, while Clay City’s only SWIAC setback was by a 62-51 score at Eastern Greene on Jan. 17.
Paris rally falls short in Super Sectional
When Petersburg (PORTA) finally showed it was possible to hit a free throw on the west end of the Illinois-Springfield gym Tuesday night — after 12 misses in a row — it spelled the end of a high school comeback by Paris that looked for awhile like it would be one for the ages.
“I thought we had ‘em,” Tiger coach Shawn Nugent said after the Class 2A Super Sectional game won by the Bluejays 58-49.
Paris seeking finals berth tonight
The Paris Tigers may be the underdogs again tonight when they play at the Class 2A Springfield Super Sectional, or they may be the favorites. What’s already clear as the Illinois boys basketball tournaments for the smaller schools enter their final week is that rankings and reputation don’t matter, particularly to the Tigers.
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.
- More High School Headlines
- Linton, Clay City coaches pulling for each other Saturday in IHSAA basketball regionals