TERRE HAUTE —
As much as I enjoyed the girls high school basketball season this past winter, I liked the boys season even better; something about a team winning its last game — or another team practically becoming the 2010 version of “Hoosiers” — will do that for you.
Maybe that’s the excuse for having a record number of captains for some of the Andy Amey teams, as you are about to see.
My favorite group this year? The Most Improved team, for all that was embodied by several of its members.
Start with two guys who were already assured of Division I scholarships, yet turned their games up by many, many notches. That’s how Meyers Leonard of Robinson helped lead the Maroons to a state title (if you haven’t googled “Meyers Leonard dunk” yet, you are missing out) and how Justin Gant of Terre Haute North turned into a team leader in his own right.
But we can’t stop there. I can’t ignore Ike Worrell of Terre Haute South, who Mike Saylor and I agreed was the most improved player we’d seen between his junior and senior seasons; or Austin Karazsia of Linton, who made the biggest strides from December to March; or even one of my all-time favorites, David Parsons of Rockville, who prior to his season-ending injury had become an unexpected offensive threat.
Other guys who came a long way were Ethan Blankenship and Colin Carver of Casey; Tommie Bolden and Chase Jones of North; Josh Cary and Cory Cunningham of Paris; Dylan Christenberry and Sean Hollows of Owen Valley; Ryan Crowther, Jordan Houser and Zach Kent of West Vigo; Kyle Daugherty and Garrett Lientz of Riverton Parke; Andrew Davidson and Andre Strohm of Marshall; Ben Denker, Tyler Jenkins and Jake Tiefel of Clay City; Bryce Doran of Martinsville; Joey Etling of South; Ethan Fettig of Union; Robert Horn and Tyler Howkinson of North Central; Caleb Mershon and Chance Talbot of Northview; Jon Sowers of Turkey Run; and Jarred VanHorn of Shakamak.
Or how about the Competitors Team? After watching Taylor Duncan of Marshall and Tyler Wampler of West Vigo guard each other for the better part of 32 minutes this winter, I told both of them that if they’d guarded each other all season no one would have heard of either one of them. “We’d never survive,” Wampler agreed.
But the team can’t get along without recognition for two others either: South’s John Michael Jarvis, an award clinched by his phenomenal first quarter and his many floor burns in the sectional championship game, and the all-game, every-game efforts of South Vermillion’s Andy Walsh.
Others who brought it on a regular basis were David Bedwell and Caleb Turner of Sullivan; Lane Clark of North Vermillion; Blake Eaton of Linton; Seth Gambill and Dustin Howard of Union; Derek Hannahs of Robinson; Jeremy Helton of Riverton Parke; Jared Higginbotham of Martinsville; Cody Jeffries, Caleb McMullen and Clint White of Rockville; Josh Karr and Seth Marshall of Turkey Run; Trent Lancaster of Northview; Ethan Mason of Paris; Anthony McGill of South; Chris O’Leary and Logan Shipley of North; Dylan Reyher and Cody Mumaw of South Vermillion; Tyler Richardson of Shakamak; Riley Scales, Clinton Scott and Chris Unzicker of Casey; Jordan Stefancik of North Central; Cody Thornton of West Vigo; and Woody Worland of Owen Valley. There are least a half dozen more potential captains in that group.
The Clutch Team starts with the guy who led the Wabash Valley in game-winning shots, some of the unbelievable variety — Dreyson Boyd of Sullivan — and the guy who sometimes made his team very competitive all by himself — Jake Weaver of Turkey Run.
Others who could be counted on were Logan Cannady and Jacob Duncan of Marshall; Andy Cochrane of Bloomfield; Patrick Harpenau of South Vermillion; Zach Henn and Dalten Temples of Paris; Logan Higgins of Clay City; Ben Jones of Robinson; Scott Leigh and Jacob Rankin of North Vermillion; Billy Newton of Shakamak; Chase Rhoten of Linton; Rhett Smith of Sullivan; Bobby Swaby and Ethan Stanifer of North Central; Tyler Talpas of Union; Cody Vest of Owen Valley; and Bryant Washburn of Martinsville.
The Unsung Team, on the other hand, has just one captain: Jonathan Bradshaw of Northview was a glue guy all season long for a team that really needed one.
Others like him are Kaleb Barnhart, Kruz Kusterman and Lucas McVey of Casey; Cody Chamblin, Devan Dirks and Austin Siler of Robinson; Trent Collins and Jacob Phegley of Union; Austin Cook, Jake Hayn and Eric Newton of Turkey Run; James Craigmyle, Logan Laswell and Dion Scott of South Vermillion; Josh Cribelar and Matt Sanders of Martinsville; Josh Decker and Matt Moore of Clay City; Brock Dowell, Jordan Langford and John Smith of Shakamak; Lance Ellett, James Lisman and Kaleb Pirtle of Sullivan; Derek Engle and Cody Vauters of Riverton Parke; Matt Flesher, Dalton Mix and Scott West of West Vigo; Stephan Franklin and Tim Scott of Linton; Andrew Gauer and Ross Sponsler of North; Caleb Gilman and Matt Hinesley of North Central; Jarrod Gilstrap, David Ray and Aaron White of Owen Valley; Josh Griffin of Paris; Jordan Grooms, Dustin Morey and Jake Tucker of Marshall; Zach Jumps and Dalton McCool of North Vermillion; Eric Lear and Kyle Wheeler of Rockville; Bobby McKenna and Jacob Tanoos of South; and Dillon Reynolds and Jordan VanHorn of Northview.
One player stood above the crowd to lead the Unselfish Team too — Thomas Anderson of North, who never worried about his stats if his team was playing well.
Other team-first guys were Jordan Allen, Damon Hyatt and Dalton Rohr of Northview; Tyler Bishop, Dalton Sanders, Nolan Schaefer and Austin Wetnight of Marshall; Ethan Clark, Steven Clouse and Jacob Harrison of North Vermillion; Ryne Davidson and Caleb Vincent of Martinsville; Daniel Hardesty and Josh Helton of Riverton Parke; Jerret Hastings of South Vermillion; Drew Kelley of Rockville; Sterling Langley and Adam Morrill of Union; Brodey McCalister of West Vigo; D.J. Newton of Clay City; Gunnar Passen of Linton; Corbin Rehmel and Nathan Russell of North Central; Bryn Schwartz and Tyler Weishaupt of South; Ryan Shull of Casey; Tyler Sparks of Shakamak; Jimmy Stevens of Robinson; and Bret Tappan of Turkey Run.
Captain of my Most Promising Team has been written about here before — Jeff Woods of Turkey Run. Others to watch for in the future are Zach Birdsong and Brandon Duncan of Union; Calvin Blank and Jake Newton of North; Drew Bolin of Casey; Jared Boyll of Marshall; Tyler Bridgewater and Ethan Shaw of Clay City; Brad Chambers, Dylan Haltom and Scott Johansen of South Vermillion; Adrien Corenflos, Cade Lindsey, Zach Lyon and Kyle Stewart of West Vigo; Justin Crody and Brodie Crowe of Shakamak; Dess Fougerousse and Clayton French of Linton; Lane Mahurin, Jordan McFall and Joel Wittenmeyer of Rockville; Kyle Perisho and Blaine Washburn of Martinsville; Aaron Siler of Robinson; Jermaine Smith, Jeffrey Turner and Gary Ulrich of South; and Dalton Vest of Owen Valley.
Just as on the girls team, too many guys turned up injured this year, so we missed a lot of potential good work by Blake Eaton, Dess Fougerousse and Chase Rhoten of Linton; Daniel Gabbard and Jake Newton of North; Jordan Langford of Shakamak; Garrett Lientz of Riverton Parke; Cole Lydick and Scott West of West Vigo; Caleb McMullen and David Parsons of Rockville; Cody Mumaw of South Vermillion; and Jacob Musgrave and Hunter Robertson of Northview.
But left-handers? We’ve got plenty, led by Bobby Swaby of North Central and Seth Marshall of Turkey Run (seeing Seth play quarterback early in the football season helped his chances a little too). Their teammates are Ben Brown of Linton and Kole Smith of Clay City (those two go together, you may remember); Ryan Crowther, Cade Lindsey, Cole Lydick and Kyle Stewart of West Vigo; Brock Dowell, Raven Martin and Jarred VanHorn of Shakamak; Taylor Duncan of Marshall; Dylan Haltom of South Vermillion; Zach Henn of Paris; Ethan Hoadley of Owen Valley; Cory Slaven of Bloomfield; Caleb Turner of Sullivan; Tyler Weishaupt of South; and Tyler Yando of Riverton Parke.
• • •
• More basketball news — Allow me to add my congratulations to Rick Shaw, selected recently as one of the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainers by the National Athletic Trainers Association.
Lots of people know Rick was one of the heroes behind the scenes of the 1979 Indiana State basketball team. Not as many realize that those stretching techniques he taught me — free of charge — many years ago are among the reasons you can still see me dragging my weary bones around the streets of town two or three times a week.
• Sweet season — And finally, another basketball season can’t end without me acknowledging a pair of LONG-time Terre Haute South season ticket holders, Mr. and Mrs. Moody. I might not have to run as much were it not for the fudge they bring me two or three times per season — but in this case, running has never been more worthwhile.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.