And then the area was down to just seven teams all of the sudden. It has been a heck of a Sectional week and, unlike with the girls, we actually got to see the games go without a hitch and on schedule.
As we sit the day of this column, just Northrop, Huntington North, Angola, Westview, Bluffton, Blackhawk Christian and Southern Wells remain standing with four of those schools repeating as Sectional champions. Who will be able to advance through the rigors of the best day of the season in Regional Saturday? That is to be determined. Of course, check back later this week for complete breakdowns of the four Regionals featuring area teams.
Until then, Bounce wants to reflect back at a few things and a few teams who saw their seasons come to an end this past week during Sectional play.
TAKE ONE MORE MINUTE TO APPRECIATE #0
There aren’t too many times that Bounce will choose to emphasize the end of one player’s season or career over another. In fact, as far as my columns go, this is a first for me. But I had this feeling as I was working on this week’s column that I needed to stop, reflect and admire Wayne’s Craig Young one last time.
Young will still take to the track this spring before he heads out to Ohio State and the football field over the fall, but for my purposes we’ve seen the last of this extremely talented and likable young man. Young really broke out as a sophomore especially during the SAC Holiday Tournament against Homestead. He is a unique and rare caliber of athlete; almost to the point that it may sound like a cop out when people describe his upside using an often ambiguous term like “athletic” has become. But to me, he has defined the word during his years on Wayne’s court. Young, physically, is just something different and something special. There may be better basketball players, may even be better football players than Young. But to be as skilled as he is at both, as skilled as he is on the track and be THE best pure athlete in this city is something that is fantastic to witness.
One of the very best things about Young probably went unnoticed on Saturday night. As Wayne coach Aaron Rehrer subbed out his players in the closing minutes and put subs in the game, surrendering to Huntington North’s impending Sectional title win, Young too said his final goodbyes on his home court. Instead of rushing off and burying his head in his hands as any senior would want to do in that situation, Young took his time on the court. He walked to each and every one of the Viking players on the court, shook their hands and congratulated them. Even in the end, Craig Young appreciates the moment and appreciates the hustle.
And I appreciate that.
SOUTH ADAMS’ YOUTH IN ENCOURAGING
South Adams, under second year head coach Trent Lehman, finished just 2-21 this season. Arguably their best player, James Arnold, sat sidelined all season with various broken bones. Their roster contained no player in a class above sophomore. So it was going to be a challenging year and that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone now or back in October.
What Bounce witnessed in Tuesday’s close Sectional loss to a seasoned Churubusco team however has to be more than encouraging for Lehman and his squad. There is this thing called youthful exuberance and I can attest emphatically that South Adams has that. From sophomore Drew Stutzman blocking Jackson Paul’s shot and giving him his own dose of a staredown to sophomore Nick Miller’s no nonsense football style hustle to freshman Trey Schoch’s hustle and flow getting the ball up the court, I saw a lot I liked out of South Adams.
They just need more seasoning. They ended their season with a dose of that and if these kids buy into a system, they will find success in time. Lehman does, for those who don’t know, have a state title under his belt. Next year may not even be the year, time will tell. But South Adams has time and has the ability to build in ways few programs do. They are a story all of their own: that you can have a very bad year but still have so much to look forward to.
BELLMONT BASKETBALL IS BACK
While I am in the world of Adams County, let me stop by Decatur and praise Bellmont. The Braves were very close to getting to a Class 3A Sectional final, but fell short on Friday night against Heritage. The Braves notched 14 wins after winning just 13 games in the previous three seasons. This was Bellmont’s best season in 14 years when they went 24-3 under current Zionsville coach Shaun Busick.
Lets call in the Fuelling factor. Coach Jonathon Fuelling is the fourth head coach since that 2004-2005 season, Busick’s last, and the first to register 10 wins, let alone a winning season like he produced this year. Bellmont may not be “back” in terms of being a state contender like they last were under Busick and the likes of Adam Arnold, Aaron Richie and Brian Schultz, but there is a certain comfort and confidence that the program has gained from this season.
They will lose a lot in Jordan Fuelling (there is that last name again), Brady Manis, Aaron Lehrman and Payton Boyd. But when you alter a culture of a program, graduation doesn’t ravage you as much. Things in Decatur in both the boys and the girls programs have developed beyond just being about a player. Kade Fuelling (notice a trend yet?) will return as one of the best players in the Northeast 8 and Tyler James will be back as a knockdown shooter. They will be back, their coach will be back and Bellmont is, in many ways, back.
THIS WEEK’S HOOSIER HYSTERIA DEBATE
Austin Hough of The Goshen News produced an interesting piece earlier this week on the topic of “Hoosier Hysteria” (THE STATE OF INDIANA’S IDENTITY: Crowds, participation down for Indiana high school basketball).
Not only is it worth a read because of it’s thoughtful approach, it opened up the conversation about this phenomenon that pushes Indiana high school basketball to the forefront of prep hoops nationwide. That and the fact that the nation’s largest high school gym at New Castle drew capacity crowds to see the likes of New Castle’s Luke Bumbalough and Blackford’s Luke Brown during Sectional week. Locally too we saw tremendous turnouts at Wayne and DeKalb, especially from the Huntington North and East Noble fanbases. And that is all well and good. Indiana high school basketball is special, the attention these crowds got was warranted. Nobody loves basketball in this state and area quite like me, I can make that promise fairly.
But the conversation that Hough has and has started on social media is great because there is a hypocrisy to the “hysteria” in 2019. At times, crowds are great. At times, they are poor at best. Even in the city, I saw Northrop and South Side games turn out deep and raucous crowds and I saw barely any love for the SAC Holiday Tournament final that usually fills every seat at Wayne and then some.
Bounce would love to see gyms filled like New Castle was or with fan bases as loyal, color coded and excitable as Huntington North’s fans were for Saturday night’s title game at Wayne. But that is not Indiana high school basketball in 2019 sadly; those crowds are the exception far more than they are the rule.
Hey, lets all change that next season.
- Huntington North last won a Sectional title in 2001. Their star player then: Sean Kline.
- Blackhawk Christian won their three Sectional games by an average of 65 points per game with 94-30, 114-41 and 99-44 marks over last week. It is the second best margin of victory average in Sectional history. Only Muncie’s 67.3 points per game, all the way back in 1917, is better.
- Angola’s Sectional title win gave the Hornets back-to-back titles for the first time since 1962 and 1963. Not bad for a team that lost some heavy contributors to graduation after last season.
- Bluffton didn’t take long to add their boys basketball Sectional title to the big board in the school’s gymnasium. In fact, the new addition to the graphic went up on Sunday. Eventually, the school may run out of room in the Sectional spot; this is their 32nd Sectional title dating back to their first in 1915. It was their first title since 2011.
- How about the last two schools mentioned combined? No other area school produced both boys and girls basketball Sectional champions this season by Angola and Bluffton. It is the first time in the history of Bluffton High School that the boys and girls won titles in the same year. Now the boys teams will both look to pull off Regional wins and the Angola boys will even start off against the same school, Marion, that ended their girls’ season.
- In the non title winning column, Heritage fell to Marion on Saturday in a Class 3A final. But as one of three new coaches in the ACAC this season, Adam Gray did lead Heritage to a 17-8 record, a school record for single season victories.
- Prairie Heights also had a program record for wins with 20, doing it too under a first year head coach in Tony Everidge.
- Tuesday’s Sectional opener at Eastside between the host Blazers and Canterbury was the first time a boys basketball Sectional game had been played in the town of Butler since 1944.
- Homestead basketball released an interesting graphic this week that puts into perspective the coaching success of Chris Johnson and Rod Parker over the last 10 seasons. The pair have combined for 431 wins over that time with 14 conference titles and 12 sectional crowns.
These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH