Mike Saylor knew his Terre Haute South coaching career would be concluding soon.
But he didn’t want it to be ended by Terre Haute North in the semifinals of the Class 4A Northview boys high school basketball sectional.
That’s how it happened Friday night, however, when his Braves lost 73-52.
Afterward, Saylor — who announced last year that this would be his final season at South — bid farewell with class and dignity.
“I was mentally prepared for it,” he told me afterward. “I wanted to win and keep going [in the state tournament], but obviously we didn’t. So that’s the end of it.”
Saylor, 50, finished with a 103-69 record over seven seasons as the Braves’ head coach after serving 14 seasons as an assistant to Pat Rady. South has had only three head coaches in the sport — Gordon Neff, Rady and Saylor — since its doors first opened in 1971.
“My dad [Arnold] always told me that if you’re going to do a job, do it right,” continued Saylor, a 1978 graduate of South. “And I’m confident that I did the best I could do and did it right. I feel good about the job we’ve done here in seven years.”
Saylor’s favorite accomplishments over the past seven seasons?
“The main things were helping kids and getting kids scholarships,” he replied. “The final four [in 2005], the final eight [in 2009], being in the sectional finals four out of seven years, the two Pizza Hut [Wabash Valley] Classic championships [in 2004 and 2007] … they were great. Another one of the things I’m most proud of was the way the kids developed while they were in the program.”
Saylor and his wife Patricia have three daughters — Victoria, 15; Sofia, 12; and Andrea, 10 — and his family is where his focus will be in the immediate future.
“I was [Indiana Basketball Coaches Association] Coach of the Year three years ago and I hope I can be ‘Dad of the Year’ and ‘Husband of the Year’ for the next 30, 40 years of my life, hopefully,” he mentioned.
But that doesn’t mean Saylor will push South basketball out of his life completely.
“I’ll be a South fan until they pull the plug on me,” he promised.
Saylor also hopes the school administration finds the right person to replace him, whoever or whenever that may be.
“Of the three guys that we’ve had [as head coaches] over the years … we have poured ourselves into the program,” he explained. “It’s really been a big part of our lives and I hope that’s what they get — a full-time guy and not somebody who looks at it as a part-time endeavor. A stepping stone [to a ‘big-time’ job] is fine if you’re going to pour yourself into it. But part-time is not fine. You want to give everything you’ve got to the kids.”
As expected, Saylor enjoyed many final conversations as a head coach Friday night. One was with North coach Todd Woelfle during the postgame hand shake.
“I just said ‘good luck,’ ” Saylor relayed. “I hope those guys go far. They’re Terre Haute guys. They’re friends. They’re not enemies. They happen to be opponents on the basketball court, but they’re our [Vigo County] school corporation brothers. We certainly hope they come out of the [sectional] tournament.”
“I just congratulated him on a great career at Terre Haute South,” Woelfle said. “He and I spent a lot of time talking basketball and I wish him nothing but the best of luck.”
Saylor also addressed his disappointed players in the Northview lockerroom.
“I just told them they’re special to me and I love the coach-player relationship as it goes on throughout the years,” he said. “I just wanted to remind them that they’ll always have my support and friendship. I think one of the main goals at this point is to get [Derek] Shouse and [Anthony] McGill [college] scholarships. We’ll also host open gyms until they get somebody new in here.”
Although Woelfle’s mind was focused on preparing for the Patriots’ sectional championship game tonight, he gladly offered his views on Saylor.
“I’m not going to miss coaching against his teams because he runs a very unorthodox style,” he said with a respectful chuckle. “But I will miss the communication. Being coaches of the two high schools in Terre Haute, he and I have a lot of similarities in some of the things that we go through, so I’ll miss bouncing ideas off of him.”
For what it’s worth, I’ll miss Saylor too, especially when he’d come over and yuck it up with me at the press table. Most coaches (not all) are too worried about their team or their opponent to fraternize with the media before a game, but not Mike Saylor.
See ya at a game soon, Mike.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.
Mike Saylor knew his Terre Haute South coaching career would be concluding soon.
- High School
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TH South beats Northview in Big Four makeup baseball game
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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
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Linton’s Weber to coach at BNL
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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.
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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
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Unfortunately, one of them had to lose.
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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
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PREP ROUNDUP: South tennis wins against Oldenburg Academy
Playing on Ben Davis’ courts, Terre Haute South pulled out a 4-1 victory over Oldenburg Academy in girls high school tennis Tuesday.
- More High School Headlines
- Vikings win in extra innings at Rockville