News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

January 31, 2014

North-South time again: Fans of both schools ready to show spirit tonight

TERRE HAUTE — It’s an event they look forward to all year, but tonight they’ll have to deal with a smaller venue and less room to operate when the annual Terre Haute North-Terre Haute South high school basketball doubleheader takes place at South instead of Hulman Center.

Players and coaches will be affected too, of course, but the reference here is to North’s Baseline Bums and South’s X Factor.

Dressed as medical personnel, soldiers, cowboys, musical groups, assorted foodstuffs or anything else that strikes their fancies, the student cheer blocks from both schools have been nearly as essential to the spectacle of North-South basketball as the games themselves, and tonight’s contests — girls at 6:30, boys at approximately 8:15 — will be no different, regardless of where the game is played.

And as chaotic as the scene appears to be, it’s actually pretty well organized.

The Baseline Bums, Garrett Humphrey explained this week, are one of the organized club activities at North, with weekly meetings to discuss strategy and wardrobe.

Themes and chants for the X Factor come directly from Student Council meetings. “We like to get input from all different [aspects of the school community],” Brandon Sakbun said.

And social media, particularly Twitter, takes care of the rest.

Both groups have similar customs when it comes to seating too.

“It used to be an age thing,” noted Maciej Tomaszewski, another Baseline Bums regular, “but I feel like we’ve been changing that this year. Whoever gets the loudest usually comes first.”

“It’s supposed to go seniors [in the front], then juniors, sophomores and freshmen,” said Maddie Kerr of South, “but we try to get the people who are loudest to the front.”

The hundreds of students from each school who came to Hulman Center in the past probably won’t fit in the smaller student sections at the opposite end of South’s gym tonight, of course.

“I’ll miss Hulman Center,” Kerr admitted. “It was a lot bigger and you didn’t have to worry about getting there early … but I think it will be fun at South.”

“It’s usually first-come, first-served [when it comes to seating],” Sakbun said this week. “If it fills up, hopefully we can move [the overflow] to a side section.”

“We’ll accept anyone who wants to come, as long as their cheering for the team,” said Humphrey. “If they get there late, they might have to be at the back [or, tonight, possibly in the upstairs bleachers behind where the North students will be].”

“At the Pizza Hut [Wabash Valley Classic] championship, [lack of seating] became kind of a problem,” Tomaszewski said, “but so far we’ve had enough space.”

“It was a squeeze,” Humphrey agreed.

Both groups plan to be out in force for the girls game too, not only for support but to assure a seat. “I have track practice [after school],” Tomaszewski lamented, “but I hope to be there as soon as possible.”

Getting there in time will be a little less a problem for fans of the home team, Kerr said. “Some people are not even going home [after school],” she predicted.

Doors open for spectators at 5:30 p.m., athletic director Brian Mancuso of South pointed out, and adults might need to be aware of that time too. The gym will probably be full, and it will probably be full early.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” said coach Cara Stuckey of the South girls, who will be playing in front of the most intimate crowd they ever have. “It will be an exciting atmosphere, and I hope we can give [the fans] a good game.”

“I hope we’ll be able to handle [the atmosphere],” said coach Mike Allen of the North girls team. “Both teams have great fans, and the team that keeps its composure will have a big advantage.”

“It’ll be similar to the Pizza Hut Classic championship, very exciting and loud,” predicted coach Todd Woelfle of North’s boys, “what Indiana high school basketball is all about.”

“I think we’ll be a little more comfortable in a 4,000-seat arena,” said coach Scott Ridge of the South boys. “It’s going to be packed, with a raucous crowd … a lot of fun for everybody.”

Fun is certainly what the two student sections and their representatives, athletes themselves (Humphrey a diver, Sakbun a swimmer, Kerr a soccer player) are hoping for too.

“It’s who’s loud and who’s willing to go nuts,” said Humphrey.

“It’s my favorite part [of being a fan],” Kerr said. “I think this [theme] will be one of the best ones we’ve done.”

“It’s the one thing I’ll be looking forward to,” added Tomaszewski. “Look as ridiculous as possible … and be loud, of course.”

The crowd’s affect on the game itself will be difficult to predict, although that Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic championship game was a possible preview. Woelfle said this week that he has a philosophy about it that he hopes he can translate to his players.

“It’s not just another game,” he said. “But the team that realizes first, after it starts, that it is just another game is the one that usually wins.”

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