Kelsey Pilant is smiling this week.
This probably doesn’t qualify as big news anywhere but the Jasonville area, where the 6-foot-1 center of the Shakamak High School girls basketball team had been known for her absence of grins until her Lakers won the Class A Clay City Sectional championship game on Saturday.
“[Pilant] never smiles,” assistant coach Kirk Buckley explained earlier this week, “but ever since we won Saturday night [an overtime decision over White River Valley], you can’t wipe it off her face.”
All true, Pilant herself admitted to the Tribune-Star — while smiling, of course. She and her teammates see no reason to change their expressions this week either.
Although the Lakers will be going to a girls basketball regional for the first time, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been close to winning a sectional in the past. Three of the Shakamak seniors were on the team the previous three years, when the Lakers lost in the championship game to Clay City each time.
“This is a week we’re going to appreciate … after four years in the finals, it was really nice to get one,” head coach Troy Fougerousse said this week. “But we can’t be satisified. We’d like to advance another week.”
Shakamak plays Tindley, an inner-city prep school from Indianapolis, at 10 a.m. Saturday at Southwestern (Shelby), with Jac-Cen-Del and the host team meeting in the second game. Southwestern is the defending regional champion, knocking off Clay City in the championship game a year ago.
The Lakers’ 11-11 record isn’t the best in the field, but they’ve won five in a row — and their 6-11 start may have been a product of their schedule.
“We started out against [teams including] Vincennes Rivet, Martinsville, Terre Haute North, Barr-Reeve, Sullivan … and we do that for a reason,” Fougerousse said. “That should help you this time of year.
“I guess we have been a little more focused lately,” he continued, after being asked about the winning streak, “and when we got on a little roll, the girls got confident.”
“We’re working as a team better, communicating,” explained forward Megan Phipps, another of the four-year seniors. “Our defense was awesome [during the sectional], better than it’s ever been … it’s all communication and effort.”
“We’re starting to work more as a team, communicating a lot more,” Pilant agreed. “You can tell everybody is out there wanting to win.”
“It’s our teamwork and our chemistry,” added the third senior, guard/forward Kelsey Fulford. “This year our chemistry is the best [of the past four seasons].”
Shakamak’s success starts with the three seniors — Pilant, averaging about 20 points and eight rebounds per game, as the “go-to” player, Fougerousse said, with the 5-9 Phipps the best perimeter shooter and the 5-9 Fulford “the glue to our team,” the coach added.
Jerri Beck, a 6-0 junior, gets the toughest defensive assignment and the “junk points,” Fougerousse said, with 5-8 sophomore slasher Sierra Hudson a primary ball handler and the team’s third-leading scorer behind Pilant and Phipps.
First-year player Casey Reynolds is a fourth senior on the team, but much of the depth comes from a pair of freshmen — 5-8 scrapper Kayla Gallagher and rugged 6-1 Kierra Samm.
And if the Lakers get to play yet another week, that would be something they could get used to.
“It’s crazy,” Phipps said. “[Being a sectional winner] feels better that I thought it would. The excitement, the crowd … it’s hard to take it all in.”
“It feels amazing,” added Pilant. “Having everybody there cheering you on, believing in you … that makes you want to accomplish it even more, both for yourself and the people supporting you.”
“I’m glad I got to share [the excitement of winning a sectional] with these girls,” Fulford said. “We’ve been playing together since fifth grade, and since the summer we’ve been in the gym as much as we could. That was our main goal, coming home with a [sectional] title … now we’ll try to bring home a regional title.”
- High School
Softball sectionals up for grabs
All three Vigo County high schools and Northview appear to have a realistic chance of winning sectional championships in softball this week.
Vikings win in extra innings at Rockville
West Vigo scored six runs in its first two innings Saturday, then needed a ninth-inning single by Lucas Fagg to escape with a 7-6 extra-inning win in nonconference high school baseball at Rockville.
TH South beats Northview in Big Four makeup baseball game
Terre Haute South wrapped up a share of the MIC baseball title and finished up the Big Four Classic with an 8-1 victory over Northview in less than 24 hours on Saturday morning.
Olds pitches South to share of MIC baseball title
Friday night, winning the second game 5-0 and earning a share of the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference high school baseball title.
Damon Olds was dominant on the mound for the Braves, striking out 14 and walking just one while pitching a three-hit shutout.
South wins first half of doubleheader against Lawrence North
Host Terre Haute South kept its Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference high school baseball title hopes alive — and clinched no worse than second place in the process — by downing Lawrence North 4-1 in the first game of a doubleheader Friday night.
The second game, which started after Senior Night festivities between games, ended past the Tribune-Star deadline.
PREP ROUNDUP: Calleja pitches West Vigo past South Vermillion
Brandon Calleja had 13 strikeouts to lead West Vigo to a 5-1 victory against South Vermillion in high school baseball Friday.
Brandon Behringer went 2 for 4 with two RBI for the Vikings, who secured second place in the Western Indiana Conference.
Kaden Lawson had double for South Vermillion (15-7), which finished 4-2 in the WIC.
Seibert returns from injury to win three events as Braves win sectional crown
His baseball equivalent might be Rick Sutcliffe of the 1984 Chicago Cubs.
When Tyler Seibert returned to the Terre Haute South track and field lineup Thursday for sectional action at Terre Haute North, it was like the midseason trade the Cubs made for Sutcliffe that earned them a playoff spot.
South switches up lineup to defeat North in tennis sectional
Terre Haute South coach Bill Blankenbaker said two weeks ago that he would change the Braves’ lineup after the 3-2 dual-meet loss to Terre Haute North.
The Patriots knew it was coming, but they couldn’t do anything to stop it.
PREP ROUNDUP: North slips past Northview in eight-inning baseball game
Colton Pittman drew a bases-loaded walk to score Zach Milam with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as host Terre Haute North edged Northview 8-7 in high school baseball Thursday at Jennings Field.
PREP ROUNDUP: North and South to face off for tennis sectional title
The winner of the Terre Haute sectional for girls high school tennis will come down to Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South.
Terre Haute North gets 10 event victories to claim 12th straight sectional crown
Terre Haute North won 10 events Tuesday night while winning the Indiana High School Athletic Association girls track and field section at South Putnam High School for the 12th straight year.
North, South to meet in first round of baseball sectional
The Indiana High School Athletic Association announced pairings for the baseball state tournament Tuesday and the draw offered up a Vigo County battle in the opening game.
PREP ROUNDUP: West Vigo softball clinches share of WIC title
West Vigo clinched at least a share of the Western Indiana Conference softball title with a 6-4 victory over Edgewood on Tuesday.
Jacy McClain and Bailee Waters had RBI singles in the fourth inning to break the game open for the Vikings.
Track sectional titles on the line
Expect one heck of a high school dual track meet Thursday night when Wabash Valley boys visit Terre Haute North for sectional action.
Prep report: Patriots, Braves favored to advance from tennis sectional 1st round
Persons attending this week’s girls tennis sectional championship match at Terre Haute North might want to pack a lunch.
Local ADs happy to see spring come to a close
Brian Mancuso is the most experienced of the high school athletic directors in Vigo County — and that’s a very relative term — but even he wasn’t quite ready for the headaches that have accompanied spring sports the last few weeks thanks to rain, rain and more rain.
South baseball remains in first-place tie with Center Grove
Heading into Saturday’s Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference baseball doubleheader against Center Grove, coach Kyle Kraemer of Terre Haute South wasn’t completely optimistic.
Kehrt Award goes to Emily Bell, Lee Davis
Emily Bell of Terre Haute South and Lee Davis of Terre Haute North are the 2013 recipients of the Willard M. Kehrt Mental Attitude Award.
Bell and Davis were nominated by their schools and chosen in a vote by the Kehrt Award panel. Both will be recognized at awards assemblies later in the month at the schools.
Bell played varsity basketball four years at South and is competing in track this season, running the 800 and two relays. “I wanted something to do my senior year,” Bell said.
She plans to attend DePauw University and play basketball. DePauw is the reigning NCAA Division III champ in women's basketball.
Bell tore an AÇL playing in a basketball tournament the summer after her sophomore season. She missed most of her junior season but came back to play her senior year and was second leading scorer and leading rebounder her final season.
Bell also was leading rebounder her sophomore year.
South softball's power display earns Braves share of MIC
The fun that the Terre Haute South high school softball team had Saturday — including those five home runs — was all the result of the hard work the Braves had put in before the game, coach Dwayne Stout said after the game.
Pirtle takes medalist, leads Sullivan to WIC title
Sullivan took team and individual honors in the Western Indiana Conference boys high school golf championships played Saturday at Idle Creek.
Prep roundup: Patriots drop doubleheader to Carmel baseball
Host Terre Haute North saw its Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference baseball championship hopes suffer what was probably a fatal blow on Saturday as the Patriots lost a doubleheader to Carmel by scores of 8-7 and 11-8.
Timely hits: After slow start, Terre Haute North rallies to beat Mooresville
No-hit through three innings, Terre Haute North’s bats came alive — especially Sam Wolf’s — just in time to rally for a 4-2 home victory over Mooresville in high school baseball Friday evening at Jennings Field.
Linton’s Weber to coach at BNL
Bedford North Lawrence High School has announced that Steve Weber will be the Stars’ head coach for the 2013 season.
Freshman group adds to Big Four teams' baseball tradition
The Terre Haute North-Terre Haute South high school baseball series wasn’t an inning old last week before T.J. Collett of the Patriots lashed a run-scoring single.
That hit helped the Patriots take a 2-0 lead, but in the top of the second inning a three-run double by Justin Jenkins sparked the visiting Braves to a four-run inning.
North tied the score in the bottom of the second inning, Collett driving in another run. And just before rain caused the game to be suspended, South called Logan Ames in from its bullpen for some solid pitching.
Not bad for a trio of freshmen. And the weekend hadn’t even started yet.
Pairings drawn for high school softball sectionals
The IHSAA announced Thursday its pairings for the 2013 sectional softball tournament slated for May 20-25.
Regionals will take place May 28.
North boys make it three consecutive Vigo County golf titles
Terre Haute North made it three in a row in Vigo County boys high school golf championship action Wednesday at Hulman Links.
The Patriots shot 161 to edge Terre Haute South with 165. West Vigo carded 222.
PREP ROUNDUP: Wolf homers as North baseball wins 16th game
Terre Haute North erupted for seven runs in the third inning on its way to routing visiting White River Valley 14-1 in 41⁄2 innings of high school baseball Wednesday afternoon at Don Jennings Field.
Northview's Carter strikes out 19 in 10-inning win against South Vermillion
Northview’s Taylor Carter and South Vermillion’s Daphne Dunegan locked into a 10-inning all-star softball pitching duel Tuesday night at Northview High School.
Unfortunately, one of them had to lose.
PREP BASEBALL ROUNDUP: South Vermillion 4-0 in WIC after 4-3 win at Northview
Jordan Branz won his ninth game of the season, scattering six hits over eight innings to lead South Vermillion to a 4-3 victory at Northview in a Western Indiana Conference battle.
Thompson going into Indiana High School Football Hall of Fame
Former Terre Haute North High School standout Anthony Thompson is the newest member of the Indiana High School Football Hall of Fame.
- More High School Headlines
- Softball sectionals up for grabs