News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 30, 2014

A change of habits for Patriots, Braves

Rivals are set to meet Friday at South instead of Hulman Center

David Hughes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Fans accustomed to driving to Hulman Center to watch the Terre Haute North

vs. Terre Haute South girls/boys basketball doubleheader need to do one

thing Friday evening.

Get unaccustomed to old habits.

As was previously announced, these annual rivalry games will no longer take

place at the downtown home of Indiana State University basketball. Instead,

they¹ll alternate locations between the high school gyms, starting this year

with the matchups taking place at South. The girls will tip off at 6:30,

with the boys to follow at approximately 8:15.

The new arrangement was driven home during a "Champions Luncheon" featuring

coaches and players from both schools Wednesday afternoon at Rick¹s

Smokehouse.

"I think pull-away goals and a bigger court [like what exists in Hulman

Center] make a little bit of difference, but the team that plays the best is

going to win," South boys coach Scott Ridge told the Tribune-Star after the

luncheon. "I don¹t think it¹s going to have much effect on the outcome,

favoring either team."

"It does a make a difference because the fans are right up on the court,"

North boys coach Todd Woelfle said. "It¹s going to be loud. It¹s difficult

for the personnel to hear what¹s going on and to communicate. Š But I think

it¹s going to be exciting. It doesn¹t matter where North and South play.

When they get together, it¹s going to be a battle."

"For us, it was a great opportunity for the kids to play in Hulman Center,"

North girls coach Mike Allen noted. "But in all honesty, we haven¹t had a

whole lot of success there. We didn¹t shoot the ball well. We have not

played well. So we¹re kinda excited to get back in the high school gym and

get in that high school environment and get on a court that we¹re familiar

playing on."

"The atmosphere is going to be great, no matter where we play," South girls

coach Cara Stuckey assessed. "You just have more fans on top of you than at

Hulman Center. I know our players are looking forward to the atmosphere."

Players also weighed in on the subject. Although South¹s girls left before

they could be interviewed, North senior Sierra Sykes said she doesn¹t mind

the change.

"I¹m looking forward to it a lot," stressed Sykes, who will be playing in

her third regular-season North-South clash. "I think it¹ll be a great

atmosphere. The student sections and the fans will be right on top of you so

you¹ll be able to hear them. It¹ll be really loud and it¹ll be a good game."

For the boys, seniors Austin Benson and Mitchell Dennany of North think the

game will be fun, regardless of where it¹s played.

"That¹s what they did before the game was played at Hulman Center [in the

1970s]," Benson said, "so it¹ll be cool to go back [to playing in the high

school gyms]."

"I¹m not sure if it¹ll make much of a difference," Dennany added. "We¹re

kinda looking at it as another game."

As for the contests themselves, South¹s boys already own a 58-48 victory

over the Patriots from the championship game of the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley

Classic on Dec. 30 on North¹s Jim Jones Court. Now past the halfway mark of

the season, South is 7-6 and North is 6-7.

"We expect [North] will be a little hungrier because they lost the first

time," Ridge said. "Hopefully, our guys won¹t relax any since we already won

one. That game could have gone either way. It was tight for three quarters

and they had a bad-shooting fourth quarter. That was the only difference. I

thought they played just as well as we did. So we know we¹re going to have

to play our best game to win."

"It¹s a big event, not only for the players who play the game but for the

student body, the administration and the people in our community," Woelfle

pointed out. "It should be exciting."

"You grow up playing basketball as a little kid and all you think about is

being a varsity basketball player and playing in the North-South game," said

Benson, who remembers being a sixth-grader attending one of the previous

clashes and leaving impressed with a dunk by then-North standout Justin

Gant.

Meanwhile, Dennany acknowledged that he¹s getting excited "because of how

excited everyone else is getting about it."

For South, seniors Da¹Shon Heyen ‹ who has recovered from the illness that

limited him last week ‹ and Jerad Fuson offered their views of the boys

showdown.

"This is my first [regular-season] North-South game," Heyen said. "I hope

more than anything that we can win. It¹s my senior year so it¹s a big deal."

"I¹m really excited," Fuson emphasized. "Can¹t wait. Hopefully, we can bring

back the trophy to South. I believe our team¹s coming together really well

and our chemistry is there. I think we can pull it off."

From the girls¹ perspective, North defeated South 58-45 in the Terre Haute

Savings Bank Tip-Off Tournament title matchup Nov. 15 at West Vigo. North is

12-5 now while South is 6-10.

Allen realizes that one triumph over South doesn¹t guarantee a second.

"It was great for us to get that first win against them in the Tip-Off

Classic," Allen admitted. "Having seen them play a couple times [since

then], they¹ve improved. We¹re struggling with some injuries. It¹s going to

be a heckuva ballgame. We¹re going to have to play well. Coach Stuckey will

have her team focused and ready to play so we¹ve just got to make sure we

take care of the basketball and don¹t turn it over and we might be able to

come out with a victory."

Unforutnately for the Patriots, they¹ll be without the services of senior

Layne Curley, who¹s rehabbing from a broken hand and hoping to be back in

time for the Class 4A sectional.

"My role will be to keep my teammates¹ heads in the game in the locker room

and get Œem focused before the game and at halftime," explained Curley.

Terre Haute Savings Bank sponsored Wednesday¹s luncheon.