Kelsey Pilant is smiling this week.
This probably doesn’t qualify as big news anywhere but the Jasonville area, where the 6-foot-1 center of the Shakamak High School girls basketball team had been known for her absence of grins until her Lakers won the Class A Clay City Sectional championship game on Saturday.
“[Pilant] never smiles,” assistant coach Kirk Buckley explained earlier this week, “but ever since we won Saturday night [an overtime decision over White River Valley], you can’t wipe it off her face.”
All true, Pilant herself admitted to the Tribune-Star — while smiling, of course. She and her teammates see no reason to change their expressions this week either.
Although the Lakers will be going to a girls basketball regional for the first time, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been close to winning a sectional in the past. Three of the Shakamak seniors were on the team the previous three years, when the Lakers lost in the championship game to Clay City each time.
“This is a week we’re going to appreciate … after four years in the finals, it was really nice to get one,” head coach Troy Fougerousse said this week. “But we can’t be satisified. We’d like to advance another week.”
Shakamak plays Tindley, an inner-city prep school from Indianapolis, at 10 a.m. Saturday at Southwestern (Shelby), with Jac-Cen-Del and the host team meeting in the second game. Southwestern is the defending regional champion, knocking off Clay City in the championship game a year ago.
The Lakers’ 11-11 record isn’t the best in the field, but they’ve won five in a row — and their 6-11 start may have been a product of their schedule.
“We started out against [teams including] Vincennes Rivet, Martinsville, Terre Haute North, Barr-Reeve, Sullivan … and we do that for a reason,” Fougerousse said. “That should help you this time of year.
“I guess we have been a little more focused lately,” he continued, after being asked about the winning streak, “and when we got on a little roll, the girls got confident.”
“We’re working as a team better, communicating,” explained forward Megan Phipps, another of the four-year seniors. “Our defense was awesome [during the sectional], better than it’s ever been … it’s all communication and effort.”
“We’re starting to work more as a team, communicating a lot more,” Pilant agreed. “You can tell everybody is out there wanting to win.”
“It’s our teamwork and our chemistry,” added the third senior, guard/forward Kelsey Fulford. “This year our chemistry is the best [of the past four seasons].”
Shakamak’s success starts with the three seniors — Pilant, averaging about 20 points and eight rebounds per game, as the “go-to” player, Fougerousse said, with the 5-9 Phipps the best perimeter shooter and the 5-9 Fulford “the glue to our team,” the coach added.
Jerri Beck, a 6-0 junior, gets the toughest defensive assignment and the “junk points,” Fougerousse said, with 5-8 sophomore slasher Sierra Hudson a primary ball handler and the team’s third-leading scorer behind Pilant and Phipps.
First-year player Casey Reynolds is a fourth senior on the team, but much of the depth comes from a pair of freshmen — 5-8 scrapper Kayla Gallagher and rugged 6-1 Kierra Samm.
And if the Lakers get to play yet another week, that would be something they could get used to.
“It’s crazy,” Phipps said. “[Being a sectional winner] feels better that I thought it would. The excitement, the crowd … it’s hard to take it all in.”
“It feels amazing,” added Pilant. “Having everybody there cheering you on, believing in you … that makes you want to accomplish it even more, both for yourself and the people supporting you.”
“I’m glad I got to share [the excitement of winning a sectional] with these girls,” Fulford said. “We’ve been playing together since fifth grade, and since the summer we’ve been in the gym as much as we could. That was our main goal, coming home with a [sectional] title … now we’ll try to bring home a regional title.”
- High School
Game’s the same, no matter park’s name
Maybe they should play this at Valle Field. It’s called Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club Park now, but the venerable ballpark was the site of some classic high school baseball regional games in the 1970s when coach Don Jennings and Terre Haute North’s local dynasty fought off stiff challenges from the best the rest of the Wabash Valley had to offer.
Ex-Brave Johnson happy to welcome back ex-Patriots
When recent Terre Haute South graduate Jacob Johnson watched his baseball counterparts from Terre Haute North march through the IHSAA state tournament to the Class 4A title game against Noblesville last month, he had mixed emotions.
North wrestling club performs well at Disney World
Several athletes from the Terre Haute North wrestling club fared well this week in the AAU Scholastic Duals National Championships at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.
Collett named first-team All-State in Class 4A
T.J. Collett led Terre Haute North to the Class 4A state championship game at Victory Field.
The sophomore catcher was rewarded as a first-team All-State selection by the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association. Collett hit 17 home runs with a .536 batting average this spring.
Tribune-Star Spring Sports Athletes of the Year: Hard-working sluggers
It’s not a challenge to figure out one of the things the two players chosen as the Tribune-Star’s Athletes of the Year for high school spring sports have in common. Both Cheyenne Thompson of Marshall and T.J. Collett of Terre Haute North make the ballparks they play in look way too small.
Gold surprises Black 35-12 in WVFCA All-Star Game
A dozen players from Terre Haute North were hoping that Saturday night’s Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game at Memorial Stadium would put a fitting exclamation point on their historic 2013 high school season.
But there were four other smaller schools in the Valley that also had excellent seasons, and Brian Oliver drafted all of them.
“I’m a coach at a small school,” said the Linton coach, whose first year resulted in an Indiana Class A semistate appearance and earned him the right to be an all-star coach opposite North’s Chris Barrett, “and I picked [Casey, North Vermillion and North Central, among others] because I know how much heart those schools play with.
“I knew those kids would come out tonight and give me everything they had, and they did,” he continued after a 35-12 victory by a Gold squad that had probably been considered an underdog.
Fireworks likely: Plenty of offense expected in tonight’s All-Star Game
Predicting the offensive attack for the Black Division in tonight’s 10th annual Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game shouldn’t be difficult.
Metro: ISU’s Wise starts out well in USATF championships
Indiana State sprinter Katie Wise advanced to the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters as she ran 11.42 seconds in the opening heat of the event Thursday evening at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships.
TH North puts 12 players in WVFCA All-Star football game
The third week in June has become an unofficial reunion for members of the Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association, who make their way to Indiana State’s Memorial Stadium to swap stories and coach — officially or unofficially — the two all-star teams for the Saturday game.
Terre Haute North has taken the concept one step further this week, however.
North wrestlers set for big AAU meet
Sixteen members of the Terre Haute North AAU wrestling team — coached by Luke Register, Mark Frisz and John DeLisle — will leave today for Orlando, Fla., to compete in the Scholastic National Duals meet at the ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex on the Walt Disney World Resort property.
Sweet season: Shakamak wins Class A baseball title
Shakamak baseball wins the IHSAA Class A state baseball championship.
Rockville philosophical about championship game defeat
Rockville philosophical about championship game defeat
North's Turner departs Patriots after title game loss
Terre Haute North coach Shawn Turner will leave his head coaching and teaching job to join McCutcheon's staff.
Just a little short: TH North strands 10 runners while losing in Class 4A state title game
Pitching depth came into more play than one might have expected Friday night in the Indiana Class 4A baseball state championship game, and that’s what Noblesville had in abundance.
It's go time for North, Rockville and Shakamak
Terre Haute North, Rockville and Shakamak will be playing for high school baseball state championships this weekend, the Patriots at 7:30 p.m. today against Noblesville for the Class 4A title and the Rox and Lakers against each other at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Class A final.
Rockville gets its first Victory Field shot in Class A title game
Rockville's talent runs deep as it plays in its first Class A baseball championship game.
Thompson leaves big legacy in TH swimming
Jeff Thompson, of Terre Haute South and the Terre Haute Torpedoes, has taken the head coaching position at Germantown Academy in Pennsylvania.
The final inning: Close-knit Terre Haute North seniors hope long journey winds up with a state title
Most of them have been close enough to a state baseball championship already to decide that close just isn’t good enough anymore. But the lessons they learned and the bonds they formed in those previous tournaments are among the reasons why Terre Haute North’s nine seniors are looking forward to Friday night’s Class 4A high school state championship game with excitement and optimism.
This time, Shakamak coach is really retiring
This isn’t the first time that a story has been written about the retirement of Chip Sweet as Shakamak High School’s baseball coach.
Sullivan 12th heading into today’s final round of boys golf state finals
It was hot and windy for the start of the IHSAA boys golf state finals Tuesday at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club.
Columbus North was the leader at the conclusion of 18 holes and Sullivan is 12th going into the final round to be played today with tee times beginning at 8 a.m.
Sullivan opens bid for state golf title
Play begins today in the high school boys state golf finals at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club at Franklin.
Prep/Metro roundup: Hambrock named to all-state tennis team
Lauren Hambrock of Terre Haute South was named to the all-state first team on Monday by the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association.
IHSAA baseball game times set
Game times set for IHSAA state baseball finals.
Shakamak tops Rivet in pitchers' duel to advance to Victory Field
When your name is Yeryar, Shakamak High School expects great things on the baseball diamond. Vincennes Rivet dodged Brett Yeryar intentionally walking him. But Rivet had to face Braxton and pitch to Tanner and their performances lifted the Lakers to a 1-0 victory and into the Class A state championship game.
Braxton Yeryar pitched a three-hit shutout and Tanner Yeryar singled up the middle in the eighth inning to drive in Kyler Fulford with the game-winning run.
Terre Haute North heading to Victory Field after semistate win
If Terre Haute North becomes the Class 4A state champion a week from now — and who would bet against the Patriots at this point? — there’s one prediction that might be safe: it won’t be a typical, run-of-the-mill high school baseball game that makes it happen.
Rockville to make maiden voyage to Victory Field
Rockville wins the Class A Kokomo baseball semistate.
Rival Castle up next for Patriots
Revenge isn’t the purest of motives, but it’s one that two of the three Wabash Valley high school baseball teams involved in semistate games have in common today. And it could come in handy for Terre Haute North’s Patriots.
IU recruit lights up Kentucky for 41 points in All-Star win
James Blackmon Jr. scored 41 points to lead the Indiana boys All-Star team to a 104-94 win over Kentucky on Friday night.
Sullivan boys, South's Drew Cahill qualify for state golf finals
Sullivan’s team and two players from the area extended their high school boys golf season by two days with their play on the links on Thursday.
The Arrows placed third to qualify for the state finals Tuesday and Wednesday, and Alec Davis of Greencastle and Drew Cahill of Terre Haute South qualified as individuals in the Washington Regional played at Country Oaks in warm, mostly sunny conditions.
Rockville baseball coach wants season to last one week longer
Bob Kyle really hopes his Rockville High School baseball team can win its semistate game Saturday at Kokomo against Washington Township.
Not exactly earth-shaking news, but not exactly the usual reasons either.
- More High School Headlines
- Game’s the same, no matter park’s name