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.”
This weekend’s Vigo County boys games
T.H. North at T.H. South
The action — Terre Haute North’s boys and girls travel to Terre Haute South for the first doubleheader in the long rivalry that hasn’t been in Hulman Center. The Patriot girls are 12-5, 2-1 in Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference play, while the Braves are 6-10 and 0-5. North’s boys are 6-7 and 0-2, South’s boys 7-6 and 0-1.
The time — Varsity girls tipoff is 6:30 p.m. The boys game should start around 8.
The airwaves — The boys game will be broadcast on WFNF-AM 1130 and WFNF-FM 99.5 and wabashvalleysports.com will be streaming it live.
The coaches — Mike Allen is 111-121 in his 11th season with North’s girls. Cara Stuckey is 35-29 in her third season with South’s girls. Todd Woelfle is 81-56 in his sixth season with North’s boys. Scott Ridge is 24-35 in his third season with South’s boys.
Probable starting lineups — For North’s girls: 5-10 senior Jennifer Bendickson, 5-8 sophomore Abby Howes, 6-2 senior Adrienne Pritchard, 5-8 senior Sierra Sykes, 5-8 sophomore Libby Ward.
For South’s girls: 5-7 senior Kylie Fendrick, 5-10 sophomore Lauren Hambrock, 5-8 sophomore Lauren Perrelle, 6-0 senior Bailee Williams, 5-6 freshman Kennedy Williams. Fendrick is back in the lineup after missing some games with illness.
For North’s boys: 6-6 junior Charlie Aimone, 5-8 junior C.J. Brown, 5-11 junior Austin Kurashima, 6-3 sophomore Kobi Riley, 6-1 sophomore Keshaun Sandifer.
For South’s boys: 6-6 junior Timmy Herrin, 6-4 junior Greg Newton, 6-0 junior Conner Shipley, 5-11 junior LaMarkis Stevenson, 6-0 junior Spence Tofaute.
Key reserves — For North’s girls: 5-5 freshman Lauren Curley, 5-6 sophomore MacKenzie Latta, 5-5 junior Miranda Lucas.
For South’s girls: 5-8 sophomore Ali Danielson, 5-5 sophomore Riley Davis, 6-0 sophomore Meaghan Etling, 5-7 junior Kayla Speth, 5-10 junior Cassidy Wood.
For North’s boys: 6-1 senior Mitchell Dennany, 6-0 junior Andrew Farmer, 6-2 sophomore Braxton Poore, 5-11 junior Brian Stevens.
For South’s boys: 6-2 senior Jerad Fuson, 6-2 senior Da’Shon Heyen, 5-11 freshman Jaylen Minnett, 6-0 junior Tre Minnett. Logan Dinkel, a 6-3 junior, is also expected to be back after missing several games.
Team leaders — The leading scorer for North’s girls, senior Layne Curley, is still out with an injury. Pritchard is now the team’s scoring and rebounding leader. Hambrock and Kennedy Williams have been the offensive leaders for South’s girls.
Aimone and Sandifer are the leading scorers for North’s boys, while Herrin leads the South boys in scoring and rebounding.
Recent games — North’s girls lost 76-41 Saturday on the road against Class 2A’s top-ranked Heritage Christian. South’s girls were 1-2 last week, losing 56-45 to Warren Central on Thursday and splitting a “doubleheader” on Saturday by beating North Vermillion 63-27 before losing 71-33 to Castle.
Most recent games for North’s boys were a 62-41 win at West Vigo on Jan. 17 and a 64-38 loss to Martinsville on Jan. 20. South’s boys got to play twice over the past weekend, losing 92-67 at home to Bloomington North but winning 63-59 at Plainfield.
Last meeting — North’s girls beat South 58-45 on Nov. 15 in the championship game of the Terre Haute Savings Bank Tip-Off Tournament. North also beat South in the same tournament a year earlier, but the Braves won the regular-season game 60-56 in overtime last Jan. 25.
North and South also met in boys tournament play this year, the Braves winning the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic championship game 58-48 over the Patriots on Dec. 30. North won the regular-season game against South 50-39 last Jan. 25.
Coaches’ quotes — Allen on the Patriots: “With this crazy weather, I don’t know [where we are]. But South isn’t getting to practice either, so we’re both in the same boat.”
Stuckey on the Braves: “It’s been tough, with the weather and with new faces. We see the potential, it’s just a matter of putting together 32 minutes.”
Allen on the Braves: “Their young, but Cara has them playing hard. They’ll pressure the basketball, and they’re a very good shooting team.”
Stuckey on the Patriots: “They’ve had a great season and their senior leaders have stepped up. We know we’ll have our hands full, but if we stick to the game plan we have a chance.”
Woelfle on the Patriot boys: “It’s been very difficult [because of the weather]. In any sport, success has a lot to do with rhythm, and this winter Mother Nature hasn’t allowed us to find a rhythm. I’m beginning to think Mother Nature isn’t a high school basketball fan.”
Ridge on the Braves: “We played pretty well offensively both nights [last weekend]. Our defense wasn’t great [against Bloomington North], so that’s something we’ll try to improve as we move forward.”
Woelfle on the Braves: “They present a lot of problems because they have so many guys capable of scoring, and scoring in bunches. We want to be able to control their spurts.”
Ridge on the Patriots: “We had a great game with them at the Classic, and we expect nothing less than a hard-fought, close game. We need to play well to get a win.”
— Compiled by Andy Amey
West Vigo at Edgewood
West Vigo at Southmont
The action — The West Vigo Vikings (4-7 overall, 2-2 WIC) will visit the Edgewood Mustangs (5-8, 1-3) for a Western Indiana Conference matchup tonight and visit the Southmont Mounties (2-10 before tonight’s home game against Lebanon) for a nonconference game Saturday night.
The times — Varsity tipoffs are slated for about 7:30 both nights. Tonight’s game is the second part of a girls-boys doubleheader.
The airwaves — None planned in the Wabash Valley.
The coaches — Joe Boehler is 68-58 in his sixth season at West Vigo. Jeff Farmer is 29-32 in his third year at Edgewood. Jon Sparks is 18-16 in his second year at Southmont.
Probable starting lineups — For West Vigo, 6-1 junior Hayden Corenflos and 6-1 junior Alex West at forwards, 6-6 freshman Austin Sappingfield at center, 5-9 junior Tyler Hayes and 6-1 freshman Tyler Kernstein at guards.
For Edgewood, 6-2 senior Clayton Settle at forward, 6-7 junior Jonas Carmichael at center, 6-0 senior Tommy Black, 5-6 junior Ryan Newman and 6-1 senior Connor Collier at guards.
For Southmont, 5-11 junior Nathan Jent and 6-2 junior Heath Whalen at forwards, 6-1 senior Deryk Benge at center, 5-11 senior Devon Burton and 5-8 senior Cameron Remley at guards.
Key reserves — For West Vigo, 6-2 junior Grant Daley, 5-10 junior Alec Blair, 5-7 junior Keagan McClain and 5-10 sophomore Jordan Schaffer.
For Edgewood, 6-5 senior Darren Fuller, 6-0 senior Alex Driver and 6-0 senior Chris Robinson.
For Southmont, 5-11 sophomore Jarrett Todd and 5-10 junior Nathan Truncone.
Team leaders — For West Vigo, injured 6-1 junior Braiden Cardinal is averaging about 14 ppg and Corenflos is next at about 12 ppg. For Edgewood, Settle is tallying about 13.5 ppg. For Southmont, Whalen is Southmont’s leading scorer.
Injury report — For West Vigo, Cardinal is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn meniscus. For Edgewood, all regulars appear to be healthy. For Southmont, several players are out with injuries.
Recent games — Last Saturday, West Vigo lost at home to Shakamak 32-29 and Edgewood won at South Vermillion 60-32. Last Friday, Southmont lost at Covington 69-44.
Last meetings — On March 1, 2013, West Vigo lost to Edgewood 57-50 in the Class 3A Greencastle Sectional. West Vigo and Southmont have not played each other in recent years.
Coaches’ quotes — Boehler on his squad: “We lost Cardinal for the season and he was such an integral part of our team, so we’re trying to rediscover our identity.”
Boehler on playing the Mustangs: “Every year, they’re a really good team. They’ve got several guys back from last year. They’ve won our sectional the last two years. They’ve got some nice guard play this year. They’ve got some nice size inside. We’re going to have limit our mistakes against them and make sure we rebound the basketball.”
Boehler on playing the Mounties: “They were in a situation pretty similar to us [with Cardinal]. I believe their leading scorer from last season [Burton] broke his leg during football season, but he’s back now. … So I think their record is not indicative of the team they are.”
Farmer on his squad: “We’re 5-8, but maybe played our best game of the year against South Vermillion on Saturday … We’re just a team that’s really kinda struggled up to this time of the year. I’ve started maybe 13 different starting lineups. It’s taken a lot to get this team together. But I do think we’re a team that can compete for our sectional [championship].”
Farmer on playing the Vikings: “Every year, they play us tought. They always give us good battles. We’re anxious to notch a win and we’re sure they are too.”
Sparks on his squad: “We’ve just had a lot of moving parts this season [mostly because of injuries]. So it seems like we’re constantly adjusting. But I think we’re heading toward a competitive sectional.”
Sparks on playing the Vikings: “I know they’ve also had a devastating injury recently [Cardinal]. It’s always sad to hear that. I know Corenflos is a pretty good player and he’ll be a difficult matchup for us.”
— Compiled by David Hughes