TERRE HAUTE —
Heading into the 2011-12 boys high school basketball season, expectations were high for the Linton Miners.
But to the disappointment of their supporters, they compiled a modest 12-10 record and lost their first game in the Class 2A sectional.
Many of the same players returned for this season, including senior standouts Dess Fougerousse and Austin Karazsia. Both plan to play college basketball next season, although neither is sure where yet.
So far, disappointments have been minimal for the Miners as they went 18-3 in the regular season. Coach Joey Hart’s crew captured the SouthWestern Indiana Athletic Conference championship outright for the first time ever, won the Greene County Invitational title and retained possession of the Greene County Keg.
“Every season is different,” Hart told the Tribune-Star. “I’ve loved coaching these guys. It’s been a lot of fun. Our kids have handled the pressure great. It’s been a blast.”
Hart mentioned that the 6-foot-5 Fougerousse and the 6-8 Karazsia are each averaging 20.5 points per game, while Fougerousse is grabbing 8.8 rebounds and Karazsia 8.6 boards per outing.
On top of that, Fougerousse became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,322 points and counting as well as its all-time leading rebounder with 752.
Fougerousse also became Linton’s all-time leading assist man with 288, while Karazsia climbed into third place in scoring with 1,182 points so far and second in rebounds with 713.
“It all came together this year,” Karazsia admitted. “If you look at our point totals, they’re nearly identical.”
Ask members of the Miners what changed so much between seasons and you’re likely to get several different answers.
“Maturity, first and foremost,” Hart assessed. “Dess and Austin improved, not just offensively but defensively. They’ve been our leaders all year.
“They both gave a tremendous amount of effort. They really worked to make their senior year a special season. I feel like this year we have a lot more togetherness and a lot more trust in each other. These guys have played extremely well together.”
“This year compared to last year, we really had a commitment over the summer,” Karazsia said. “We just came together as a team. We knew what we had to do this year. There was no reason for us not to do well. We knew expectations were high and we just needed to perform.”
“Last year’s team had a little bit of lack of focus, mainly on my part,” Fougerousse added. “But this year, we’ve got seven guys who are all on the same page working toward one goal.”
Yes, the Miners won’t consider this campaign a success unless they fare better in the state tournament, which begins for them at 6 p.m. Wednesday when they face South Knox — which they defeated 58-49 in a regular-season clash Jan. 26 — in the Class 2A North Knox Sectional.
In addition to Fougerousse and Karazsia, Linton’s starters are seniors Jackson Bohnert and Keith Fulk and junior Bryant Jackson.
“Bryant Jackson has been hot for us lately,” Hart pointed out. “He’s been shooting the ball well. All three of those guys are exceptional defenders … and Keith Fulk had 14 assists a week ago Friday against North Central.”
“A lot of our role players have stepped up big,” Fougerousse noted. “Keith Fulk, who didn’t see much [playing] time last year, has been huge this year. He’s excellent at not turning the ball over and getting the ball in the right hands at the right time. Bryant Jackson is our best defender and he also does a lot of little things well.”
Key contributors off the bench include 5-9 junior guard Ryan Woodward and 5-9 freshman guard Joe Dieball.
There are seven seniors total, although one of them — former starting point guard Sam Dyar — tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the first minute against Sullivan in the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic at Terre Haute South back in December. He’s out for the season.
“For us to lose him and have the team success that we’ve enjoyed,” Hart said, “it’s been a testament to these guys’ togetherness and versatility.”
“Those are some great kids,” he continued about the seniors. “They’re exceptional kids. They’re what’s right with the program. … They’ve definitely done their job in building the foundation for the program.”
Looking ahead, Hart hopes these seniors get to add several more games to their high school careers, but he knows that won’t be easy in the North Knox Sectional.
“It’s very balanced,” the Miners’ coach explained. “People on paper are looking at us and Sullivan [as favorites]. … It should be a very competitive sectional.”
Meanwhile, Karazsia and Fougerousse sound like they’ve bought into the “one game at a time” approach that most coaches preach before the state tournament.
“We want to win seven games [which would be enough to win the state championship],” Karazsia mentioned. “If we win one game at a time, everything will take care of itself.”
“We plan on beating South Knox on Wednesday, beating Eastern Greene on Friday and Sullivan on Saturday,” Fougerousse emphasized. “That’s our only goals for now. If you go in not focused, any team can beat you.”
TERRE HAUTE —
Heading into the 2011-12 boys high school basketball season, expectations were high for the Linton Miners.
- High School
Clay City wins regional title game thriller
Clay City rallied to nip Greenwood Christian Academy 66-65 and win the Class A boys high school basketball regional championship game at Martinsville High School on Saturday night.
Linton falls in OT to Clarksville in Southridge title clash
Linton falls in overtime to No. 2 Clarksville in Class 2A Southridge Regional championship game.
Eels' semifinal win is cause for celebration
Clay City fans celebrated the Eels’ 64-46 win over Oldenburg Academy like a championship early Saturday afternoon in the Class A Martinsville Regional for boys high school basketball.
Linton knocks off Perry Central in regional semi
Sensational shooting carries Miners past Perry Central
WIC principals approve expansion
Principals in the Western Indiana Conference approved a five-team expansion last week.
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.
- More High School Headlines
- Clay City wins regional title game thriller