Andy Amey: 2A champs? Maybe just champs, period

Andy Amey, The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.
·5 min read

Mar. 2—In 1998, when Bloomfield's girls became the first team to win an Indiana high school state championship in the class basketball era with a 90-58 rout of Morgan Township, there was an attempt — maybe by the Indiana High School Athletic Association, maybe not — to throw the small schools a bone by conducting a Tournament of Champions the following week.

This might have worked except for the fact that the Class 4A champion was Jan Conner's Martinsville team — Kristen Bodine, April Traylor, et al — that had also won in 1997 and was one of the most dominant teams in Indiana history.

I can't find documentation, but I think coach Paula Fettig's Cardinals — and my friend Lindsay Secrest — were matched up with the Artesians in the TOC semifinal. What I don't need documentation for is the memory that Jan — she's my friend too, most of the time — was not going to mess around and let her superstars give any of those other champions (West Lafayette in Class 3A, Southridge in Class 2A in addition to the Class A Cardinals) any breathing room. Suspense was notably lacking, and I don't remember if they tried a TOC a second time the following year.

Which brings me to two statements: 1. This would have been a good year to revive the TOC. 2. Jan, you'll like Linton.

The Mount Rushmore of my favorite high school teams of all time still has the 1996 Turkey Run softball team at its peak, but the 2020 and 2021 Miners are battling 2002 Terre Haute South near the top of the mountain. Not sure if the Miners would have an answer for Reicina Russell, but Burgess vs. Boeglin would have been fun.

And after having a chance to watch this year's Class 4A championship game on Saturday, I'd have Linton at no worse than even money against Crown Point, and maybe a 20-point favorite over Brownsburg. To be honest, I'm less sure how the Miners would do against either of the Class 3A teams (3A champ Silver Creek was the only team to beat Crown Point, in fact.)

But let's play and find out.

Having seen Brownsburg in sectional play at Terre Haute North, I was quite impressed that Ally Becki was able to get the Bulldogs to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. They were a bunch of girls who tried very, very hard, were quicker than they looked (that's another way of saying they didn't look very quick), and often they were flushed with exertion whenever there was a break in the action. Playing against Linton, someone on their team might have had a stroke.

Crown Point didn't have the flushed-with-exertion problem, but if Paris coach Dave Tingley and his assistants Missy Tingley and Dan Gates had tuned in to see the Bulldogs play, they would have noticed several shooters with, shall we say, unorthodox form. None of the Bulldogs came up through Crestwood or Mayo, apparently.

For any of the other teams at Bankers Life Fieldhouse last weekend to have beaten the Miners, they would have had to find a way to score. Coach Jared Rehmel wasn't a guy to brag on his team's defensive prowess, but here's a stat: the fewest points allowed in any girls state championship game was 28 points (Linton 70, Frankton 28 in 2020) until the Miners won 63-25 over Tipton on Friday.

And while Aubrey Burgess, Haley Rose and Vanessa Shafford are all lovely young ladies, good students and credits to their community, they are also something else.

Stone. Cold. Killers.

This is why Jan Conner (Bob Knight too, actually) would like Linton. The Miners, as Aubrey said many times, never "took their foot off the gas" defensively. Vanessa said they wanted to win every game by one point, but what they really wanted to do was win every possession. If you have the ball, we're not going to let you score if we can help it.

And that's why, with his team leading 32-14 at halftime of Friday's game, I'm pretty sure Jared suggested in the locker room that the Miners may not have been living up to their own standards — at which point they came out for the second half and held Tipton scoreless for the next seven-plus minutes.

That's also why I had to brush up on my English poetry. John Keats never met any of the Linton players, but "La Belle Dame sans Merci" described them perfectly.

Merciless. Ruthless. Killers.

I'm really going to miss them.

—Apologies — College and, as I learned last weekend, professional teams have gone to extreme lengths (I have a couple of other adjectives too) for COVID-19 prevention, and yet not necessarily with more success than the high schools have had.

So at the state finals, the press wasn't given game programs — a problem alleviated by walking 10 feet from my seat, thank goodness — and game statistics were to be found only online.

Because typing a boxscore while trying to read the miniscule type on my phone on deadline would have been a little iffy, I kept my own stats (in case the Miners noticed some differences when they read our paper).

But the press wasn't courtside either. I was in a place where I didn't have to look up to see the big scoreboard above the court, and I was continually caught between looking at the court or looking at the board. When I got home late Friday night, I re-watched the game I'd DVRed just in case.

That's when I learned my other two favorite seniors were gypped out of stats. So Abby Brownfield, you had a steal Friday, and Lydia McCammon had a rebound.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at 812-231-4276 or 812-231-4277; by email at andy.amey@tribstar.com; or by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808. Follow TribStarAndy on Twitter.