The play I’ll remember most from the 2018-2019 high school basketball season came during the Class 2A semistate game between Linton and Shenandoah.
A ball was heading out of bounds with the Miners on defense, and Evan Slover dived several rows into the stands to fling it toward his team’s basket. The ball probably went 50 feet in the air and more than half the length of the court — but never was going to land in bounds.
No problem. Sammy Robbins ran diagonally across the court for at least 40 feet, dived into the stands himself and flung the ball back toward the court — about 50 feet in the air again — to where it was retrieved by another one of the Miners at about the same spot it had headed out of bounds.
Yes, the most spectacular over-and-back call in basketball history, but certainly one that demonstrated to the packed gymnasium which of the two teams was more eager to reach the state finals.
But wait, you’re saying. Basketball season was a long time ago.
Tell me about it.
When the girls season was chronicled here a couple of months ago, I promised the boys I wouldn’t forget them, but hinted that there were housekeeping issues that were slowing me down. And when, apparently, somebody did some housekeeping — people know I can’t ever be blamed for that — I was in a bind.
I’m a person who doesn’t throw anything away that might have future value, so when my boys basketball notes went missing a couple of months ago I foolishly looked for them for quite a while. Apparently, however, some well meaning person decided that I’d left them to be disposed of, which set me back and probably ruined my left-handed team. But, as I enter my second summer vacation week, I have this loose end finally tied up.
One similarity between these lists and those of the girls teams is that a player — that was players for the girls team — has forced a break from routine. Sullivan’s Shorter twins created a new category for themselves during the girls season and Slover defied categorization for these boys lists.
My snap judgment, about five minutes into the First Financial Wabash Valley Classic, was that Slover would lead the Unselfish Team this year. He was a four-year starter who didn’t seem to care if he scored or not. Slam dunk, right?
I had the good fortune to see many Linton games before the season ended, however. I saw Slover win the sectional championship game against South Knox with a great defensive performance (Unsung Team?) and lots of big baskets in crunch time (Clutch Team?). I saw him play hurt on numerous occasions (Competitors Team?). I learned that coach Joey Hart and the Miners, who had no shortage of leadership material, considered Slover to be at the top of their list in that category. I’d have people ask me which Miner deserved postseason accolades, I’d tell them Slover, and they’d pick somebody else (again, no shortage of candidates).
So here’s the deal. Slover isn’t on any of these teams. He’s on pretty much all of them, captain of most.
And here’s the rest of the boys I loved watching all winter.
Making game-winning plays down the stretch is pretty much the definition of clutch, so Terre Haute North’s Cayman Hayes is one of the captains of the Clutch Team. Sullivan’s Kevin Figg is another, Lincoln Hale and Tucker Hayes represent the Miners — and then there’s Slover, of course.
Their teammates are Brayden Childress of Robinson; Tanner Denham and Andrew Ellett of White River Valley; Trevor Eppert and Garrett Pollard of North Vermillion; Ethan Gilbert and Luke Richards of Casey; Cordell Hanes of Terre Haute South; Kaleb Hannahs of West Vigo; Mason Hutchings of Paris; Nolan Kelly of Cloverdale; Aleksa Markovic of Bloomfield; Landon Newnum of Parke Heritage; James Roberts and Bryson Suggs of North Central; Ethan Rogers of Clay City; Dalton Sturm of North; Caleb Swearingen of Northview; and Levi Webb of Shakamak.
Another first for this season is a captain of the Competitors Team who occasionally had to be rested for the sake of the health of his opponents, not to mention a player who had a competitive nickname before he had a real name.
Clay City’s Corbin Crosby was the one who took no prisoners, while the South Vermillion player called “Bam” before birth (a kicker in the womb, apparently) had to be named Bryce A. McLeish so his initials spelled it out. I don’t have as good a story about Northview’s Cade Bryan, but he’s another captain.
Others who got after it were Dane Andrews of West Vigo; Chance Black and Kade Lassen of Robinson; Matthew Brouwer of Paris; Jesse Burdick and Jadon Wallace of Marshall; Griffin Comer of South; Connor Davis and Logan White of Parke Heritage; Braden Edington of North; Kip Fougerousse of Linton; Carson Gettle of Northview; John Gould and Devin Stienstra of Shakamak; the three cousins Brandon Hazzard, B.J. Hopton and Jonathon Virostko of Riverton Parke; Brandon Johnson of South Vermillion; Jacob LaFary and Gianni Pipes of Clay City; Noah Livingston of Casey; Spencer Pirtle and Jackson Shake of Sullivan; Joseph Records of White River Valley; Turner Royal of Bloomfield; Zyaan Taylor and Lane Woolwine of North Vermillion; Ty Thompson of North Central; and Parker Watts of Cloverdale.
Captains of the Most Improved Team are all from Vigo County, kids I’ve watched since their junior varsity games. Yet I didn’t remember one of them, Aaron Tompkins of North, as a JV player and he went from being an afterthought to a starting 6-foot-1 power forward who kept getting better all season long. South’s Kenyon Sholty turned into the player his coach always thought he could be, and the West Vigo duo of Sean Roberts and Colton Yates also made huge strides.
Slover might even qualify for captaincy here.
Other guys who got better were Chase Ashcraft, Jake Kelley and Jake Wilkes of Cloverdale; Alex Atkinson and Logan Harrison of Riverton Parke; T.J. Baker, Kapil Reddy and Daonta Wade of South; Brevin Cooper and Dylan Nussell of Northview; Dustin Creech, J.T. Johnson, Colton Landrum and Jude Sullivan of Paris; Jaylen Crull, Riley Ferguson and Landon Stewart of Parke Heritage; Michael Dunagan of North; Brice Gilman, John Piper and Connor VanLannen of South Vermillion; Ethan Harper, Ethan Keown, Lance Rees and Kyle Sanders of Marshall; Will Hosselton and Caleb Patrick of Casey; Jonathan Kilgore and Trey Naylor of North Vermillion; Graysen Medina of Bloomfield; Nathan Owens and Bryce Patterson of Clay City; Josh Pyne and Sammy Robbins of Linton; Ethan Shidler and Dylan Smith of Robinson; and Christian Simpson and Kaleb Thrasher of Sullivan.
Going from being a superstar in one sport to a role player in another might be a tough adjustment for a lot of athletes, but North Central’s Dawson Basinger handled it well, which is why he is a captain of the Unselfish Team. Others willing to accept non-starring roles, even in their senior seasons, were Kody Deckard of South, Zane Latta of North, Ben Pirtle of Sullivan and Silas Robbins of Linton.
And remember, this was Slover’s original spot.
Others who put team ahead of self were Hunter Ashton, Thomas Brinson and Bryant Pilant of Shakamak; Noah Boyce of South; Aaron Buell of Clay City; Mitchell Burch, Eli Fitch, Dylan Richardson and A.J. Sipes of Bloomfield; Blake Chatman and Jacob Pritchard of North Central; Bryce Gladding of Paris; David Goble of Robinson; Jack Gooch and Ben Lynk of Parke Heritage; Peyton Griffin and Isaac Reinoehl of Northview; Rylan Hall and Wyatt Helterbrand of Cloverdale; Nic Hornback of Sullivan; Spencer Lewis of South Vermillion; Skyler McManus of Marshall; Tyler Moore and Addison Wall of White River Valley; Jan Tomaszewski of North; and Malachi Whittington of North Vermillion.
Members of the Unsung Team are players who grow on you: the more you see them, the more you like them and realize what they bring to the table. Slover is an example, but the other captains are Isaac Wood of Marshall and Gavin Morris of Northview.
Players like them are Hunter Adams of Clay City; Kaleb Baggett, Elliott Cotton, Dai’Von Oliver and Shelby Sykes of North; J.R. Brinkerhoff of Paris; Trey Carpenter, Shaun Gibson and Blaine Patterson of White River Valley; Kirk Carron and Gage Woodard of North Vermillion; Cody Curtis and Degan Hennecke of North Central; Dawson Dallape and Marcus Downs of Casey; Keegan Garrison and Tyler Hess of Northview; Braden Hartman, J.T. O’Brien and Reece Simpson of Parke Heritage; Coda Keller, Nick Kinnett, John May and Ethan Webb of Shakamak; Dillon Kinnett, Jaden Thomas and Tonio Young of South; Ian Kyle and Garrett Lawson of Riverton Parke; Luke Oliphant, Cameron Ross and Andrew Shelton of Bloomfield; Devyn Robertson of Linton; Eli Royal and Cooper Terry of South Vermillion; Collin Salyers and Zion Stephens of West Vigo; Walker Sims of Cloverdale; and Nick Weber of Robinson.
The players making me look forward to the 2019-2020 season are on the Promising Team, whose captains are Kyle Thomas of Cloverdale (is Patrick Rady ever not going to have a Division I talent?), Randy Kelley of Sullivan and Coy Gilbert of Shakamak (people in Jasonville who pay attention to me probably knew he’d be on this team).
Slover, unfortunately, doesn’t qualify.
Others I’m looking forward to in the future are Brennyn Abendroth, Case Lautenschlager and Gabe Newhouse of West Vigo; Brylan Apholone and Jacob Rutledge of South; Pierson Barnes of Riverton Parke; Brayden Francis and Daniel Tingley of Marshall; Brevon Fulford and Taylor Vivian of Shakamak; Anthony Garzolini and Jaxon Mullins of South Vermillion; Matt Gauer of North; Jeffrey Goble and Caleb Trimble of Robinson; Trevor Hadley of North Central; Jackson Hills of Casey; Noble Johnson of Parke Heritage; and Garrett King, Kohlton Mills and Logan Rhoads of Paris.
And, sadly, Slover is not left-handed. Members of that team, which is probably incomplete, are Carter Dickson of Clay City; Ethan Gilbert of Casey; Logan Harrison and Jonathon Virostko of Riverton Parke; Jonathon Kilgore of North Vermillion; Lance Rees of Marshall; Ethan Shidler of Robinson; and Ty Thompson of North Central.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at 812-231-4277 or 812-231-4357; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at 812-231-4321. Follow TribStarAndy on Twitter.