News From Terre Haute, Indiana

High School

March 6, 2014

Former Terre Haute resident Rick Risinger looking for fifth state title in Hulman Center

Coach leads Heritage Christian into Class 2A game

TERRE HAUTE — 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.

Vincennes Rivet’s Tim Young has four Class A runner-up finishes and one state title in his seven years as the Patriots’ coach.

But as far as state tournament coaching success, Heritage Christian’s Rick Risinger is one victory away from becoming the all-time leader among girls basketball coaches. Risinger already has four state titles.

Not bad for a nine-year coaching career.

Risinger will have a chance to win that fifth state title in a city he called home for five years. A Richmond native, Risinger was a 1969 Indiana All-Star who went on to play for Purdue University.

His career with Verizon brought Risinger’s family to Terre Haute in 1997.

Daughter Courtney would follow in her father’s footsteps and become a 1998 Indiana All-Star at Terre Haute South and earn a Division I scholarship to play at Toledo.

Youngest daughter Megan Talpas — she’s now married to former South boys standout Chad Talpas — also caught the hoops bug; she was a member of the 2002 Terre Haute South state championship team.

Megan graduated from Heritage Christian in 2003. She and Courtney spent time as volunteer coaches for their father at Heritage Christian.

“My first year as an assistant was the first year they won [the state title], the freshman year of Kelly Farris. It was a lot of fun,” said Courtney (Risinger) Lloyd, who is married with two children and resides in Indianapolis.

Farris, who played collegiately at Connecticut, now plays for the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA. Farris led the previous four state champion squads.

Heritage Christian has maintained success the past few years, but the Eagles haven’t been able to return to the state finals until 2014 when they earned the right to take on previously mentioned Fort Wayne Canterbury. Evansville Mater Dei, who will battle Western for the 3A title Saturday, was able to end Heritage Christian’s season at 24-3 in last year’s semistate.

But Risinger has a young nucleus of athletes — only two seniors are on this year’s roster — that should annually contend for state titles.

“We try to get there as much as we can and support the team and my dad,” Mrs. Talpas said of her and her sister. “They’re a very talented team. They really work well as a team. Their teamwork is very strong. That helps them have success throughout the year.”

The team is also young, so Risinger might have the chance to add to his state finals total in the next couple years.

“It’s neat to be able to see him take another group of girls to the same level,” Lloyd said.

Risinger said he has six players who will end up playing on scholarship in college, making this team rival the teams that won four straight state titles.

“This team would rank right up with that group,” Risinger said. “It’s been enjoyable. Those first four years, I had Kelly Farris and three or four solid core players. That team just blended right together. This team is along the same grade as those early teams.”

Sydney Hall, a 5-foot-6 junior guard, averaging 9.4 points and 3.3 assists, is committed to IUPUI. Allison Schofield, a 5-10 junior forward, is committed to Valparaiso. Natalie Orr, a 5-10 senior guard averaging 6.2 points, will play at Washington University in St. Louis.

Sophomore Tyasha Harris, a 5-10 guard shooting 61 percent and averaging a team-high 15.8 points, has multiple Big Ten offers, Risinger said. Sophomore Darby Foresman, a 6-3 sophomore averaging 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds, has multiple Big Ten offers as well.

Watching her dad’s team compete for a state title in the city where she graduated from high school will be a unique experience for the former Courtney Risinger, especially coming right after watching Heritage Christian win on the same court where she played as a freshman and sophomore.

“That will be really neat,” Lloyd said. “When the semistate was in Richmond, going there was nostalgic. It covers both my high schools these past two weeks.”

Rick Risinger agreed.

“That was kind of special. Early in the state tournament, we saw we could end up at Richmond and that was attractive obviously. That was a nice week,” said Risinger, who played for Hall of Fame coach Dick Baumgartner at Richmond.

Risinger dabbled in coaching his girls’ AAU teams and enjoyed it. He volunteered to help Dr. Mark Richards — who started the Heritage Christian girls program — after Megan graduated from the Indianapolis school in 2002.

“After she graduated, I started helping out a little bit,” Risinger said. “He passed away with cancer [in 2005] and had asked whether I could take over the program.”

Now retired from his business career for six years, Risinger has built a girls basketball power.

Stephanie Atkinson, a former Heritage Christian player who was coached by Risinger in AAU, said he relates well to the girls game having raised two daughters in the sport.

“Rick is a great guy. I think when I was playing for him, he makes it fun too,” Atkinson said. “Just teaches girls to give it their best and to work hard. I think he has a good approach with the girls where he makes it fun for them. He’s passionate for girls basketball. That’s led him into teaching and coaching girls. That’s what makes him special as a coach.”

Lloyd said her dad helped her stay on top of her game even through her college career at Toledo.

“With us all grown, he’s able to impart that knowledge to these young ladies. I owe a lot to him. He was the one that would come out and work out with me after practice. I’d beg him to go out and shoot on weekends. He never said no,” Lloyd said. “He was a really good shooter and I was a pretty good shooter. For him to say, hey, let’s go shoot around and made a couple tweaks, I was always ready to listen.”

“It wasn’t a surprise because he loves the game,” Megan Talpas said. “Being able to coach at another level, going from AAU to getting into the school, he’s obviously destined to be there.”

Risinger’s current squad is efficient at both ends. They shoot 52 percent and rank fifth among all teams in the state at 68.9 points per game. Opponents are averaging just 40 points.

“I don’t coach just for the sake of coaching,” said Risinger, who has appreciated the chance to develop his players’ talents. “I really enjoy trying to teach the fundamentals and the Xs and Os. I’d say I’m a little bit of  a teaching coach. Enjoy being on the court teaching the fundamentals. Proper techniques, whether it be shooting or certain types of offensive moves. Teaching techniques of offense and defensve, especially defense.”

 

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