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March 8, 2014

Damon Bailey among coaches directing daughters at Hulman Center on Saturday

Oregon-Davis coach guides third daughter to a state girls basketball title

TERRE HAUTE — Father-daughter bonding was among the themes Saturday at Hulman Center as Terre Haute played host to the IHSAA girls basketball state finals for a third straight year.

Class 4A title favorite Bedford North Lawrence (27-1) was able to repeat as state champions Saturday night with a 51-41 victory over Penn. Former BNL state champion and Indiana Hoosier great Damon Bailey led his Stars into the game with a pair of daughters on the court. Junior Alexa Bailey, wearing No. 22 of course, is a Butler recruit and sophomore Loren is a reserve for the Stars.

“Any time you can spend time with your kids, it’s special being the coach,” said Bailey, who enjoys the challenge of being both dad and coach. “My job is to coach, not necessarily to be dad during the hours of practice. We’ve got to separate that as best we can. Anytime you coach your kids and are able to have the success we’ve been able to have the last couple years, it’s a lot of fun.”

Alexa has helped lead BNL to No. 10 in the espnW 25 Power Rankings. BNL has won 54 of the past 55 games, a regular-season loss to Lawrence North the only blemish. Alexa averages 8.2 points and 4.2 assists and she poured in 23 points, including key buckets in crunch time as the Stars avenged that loss to Lawrence North with an overtime semistate victory to get to Hulman Center.

“I think [her leadership is strong] especially on the court,” said Bailey, an assistant on BNL's state championship team last year in Hulman Center. “She’s an extension of me. She lives with me and has grown up with me and just understands the things that I want done out on the floor. It’s a natural thing for this particular team with me being the coach that she probably understands what I’m saying better than anyone.”

Following the BNL victory, Alexa Bailey was enjoying the celebration with her teammates. Each of the state titles will be unforgettable moments.

"I think winning your first one, that’s pretty special, and I don’t think anything’s going to top that. But yes, it makes it a little more special, your dad being the head coach. But it’s hard to top that first one," Alexa said.

In the Class 2A game, Heritage Christian coach Rick Risinger made history by becoming the first coach in IHSAA girls basketball history to win five state championships.

Risinger and his daughters Courtney Lloyd and Megan Talpas — who sat front row at Hulman Center — reversed roles from their teenage years when Risinger watched his daughters play for Terre Haute South.

Their dad was happy to make two of his biggest fans happy, but he wasn’t preoccupied with his place in the record book.

“Not really, I really don’t focus on that,” Risinger said. “I coach for the girls, I’m just more excited about the fact that this group gets to experience a state championship. [The record’s] just not all that important to me.”

In Saturday’s first game, Oregon-Davis coach Terry Minix helped his daughter Lexi Minix earn a championship medal as the Bobcats knocked off Vincennes Rivet for a 69-64 victory. Lexi, a sophomore forward, contributed with three points and stingy defense off the bench.

Terry Minix had already coached his daughters Gabrielle and Aubrey to the Class A title in 2007.

“I don’t have any more [daughters],” coach Minix said. “Thank God, I don’t have any hair left. It’s special obviously, to have all three of your daughters win a state championship. We were hoping we would win so the other two wouldn’t have something up on [her]. Obviously, she’s my blood daughter, but these other girls, you guys don’t understand how much work they put in. It’s crazy.”

It was an unforgettable day for the Bobcats, who jumped out to a 15-2 lead on Vincennes Rivet in the first three minutes.

Senior Ashley Campbell passed former Terre Haute South star Reicina Russell for a new multi-class state finals record with 34 points. Russell scored 31 during the Braves’ 2002 4A state championship game.

Lexi Minix showed the type of leadership skills a coaches’ kid typically does as Rivet made a furious rally in the final two minutes. She helped rally the troops on the floor.

“We were getting away from [our quality defense]. I said, this is a terrible excuse for defense, we need to pick it up now or we’re not going to get the goal that we want. We stepped it up a notch,” Lexi said.

Lexi Minix agreed she’ll relish the memories of Saturday with her dad for years to come.

“Everybody’s been telling us since the beginning of the season, we’re going to be seeing you at state. But that’s just on paper and we had to prove it. My sisters going through the same thing and my dad being the coach, the whole experience, just makes it that much better,” Lexi Minix said.

The state finals are likely to return to Indianapolis in 2015 because the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament will be in Chicago, opening up Conseco Fieldhouse.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t return.

Dave Patterson of the Terre Haute Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has made sure the athletes are welcomed to Terre Haute with open arms. A banquet in Hulman Center included speaker Jennifer Jacoby, a former Miss Basketball from Rossville who led Purdue to the Final Four.

“All we can do is put our best foot forward,” Patterson said. “We hope all the small details we do help us get it back at some point. If it’s available again, my guess is we’ll have a chance.”

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