No bookie would have taken the bet.
But anyone wagering that Linton’s boys high school basketball team would play a state-championship game before its football team did so would have gotten very favorable odds — and probably become very rich as of early Saturday afternoon, when the Miners meet Bowman Academy in the Class 2A final in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“I knew we were going to state this year,” Linton athletic director Charlie Karazsia — whose 6-foot-8 inch son Austin is not only the starting center for the basketball team but also the football team’s record-setting quarterback — said Thursday afternoon, for example.
“I just didn’t think it would be in basketball.”
Few people did, but the basketball team’s success this year has come with considerable support from the football program, including two starters — Austin Karazsia and forward Jackson Bohnert — and reserves Zac Riddell, Beau Eaton and Joe Dieball who came to basketball after the Miners’ bid for a football state-championship game was stopped inches short in an overtime semistate game against Indianapolis Scecina.
“We’ve always been a football school,” Bohnert said Thursday, “but I knew from the start we’d have a special team [in basketball too]. We have great team chemistry, and the fans — it’s crazy how they support basketball now.”
“[Basketball success] puts a light on our other sports besides football,” Austin Karazsia added. “It makes people know they can have Miner Pride all year long. We get great support in both sports — one common goal.”
“Our class is just so athletic,” added fellow senior Dess Fougerousse, “and the juniors too. It wouldn’t be a shock to me to see our track team [have similar success in the spring].”
“A person who deserves a lot of credit is [Linton football coach] Steve Weber,” coach Joey Hart said Thursday. “He’s got an outstanding program, and he helped me when I got here.
“Steve told me he was tired of hearing that [basketball] couldn’t win because of football … and Charlie [Karazsia] has always been pro-both sports; he’s always talked about sharing athletes.”
“The football coaches have supported us all [basketball] season,” Bohnert added, “and coach Hart supports us in football.”
From an expectations standpoint, Hart reasoned this week that Linton’s football success may have made his own job a little easier.
“Sometimes it’s tougher being the big dog,” he reasoned. “It was the same thing when I was [coaching] at Shakamak, which was always considered a baseball school.”
As the football players he knew prepared for semistate games the past two falls, Hart said he told some of them, “You’re only playing one game. You’re not playing for all those other years [of Linton football success].”
So although several members of Linton’s last regional championship team are still in town, that came 67 years ago.
“There was pressure on us to win the sectional,” Hart admitted, “but after that, we just went [to the regional and semistate] to play basketball.”
A good philosophy, one of his players indicated Thursday.
“We’re going to go out and have fun and play a basketball game [Saturday afternoon],” Austin Karazsia said.