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A few thoughts about Eastern Greene SectionalPosted Friday, March 13, 2009, at 5:50 PM
Eastern Greene boys basketball coach Andy Igel (center) and the Thunderbird bench offers congratulations as Sam Jacob comes off the floor during the Class 2A Sectional 45 championship game against Bloomfield March 7. (By BJ Hargis/Greene County Daily World).
A crowd of nearly 2,500 (my estimation) got to witness a Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference and Greene County war in the title game Saturday between the host Thunderbirds and Bloomfield. The Cardinals' 32-30 victory was the conclusion to three nights and four very competitive games.
"The environment was outstanding," said Eastern Greene coach Andy Igel. "I want to commend Jeff and the entire administration for running an A-1 tournament.
"If there was any doubt whether Eastern Greene could do it, there should be no doubt now. I was proud all week to be a Thunderbird."
This was the first time since the mid-50s that anywhere but Switz City and/or White River Valley High School played host to a sectional. The Class A Sectional was again at WRV while the 2A affair was going on at the same at EGHS.
"I really thought everything went smooth," said Igel. "Everything was handled well. Our people are first class. Our maintenance people to the ticket takers to the concession workers were all great. All I heard from people all week were positive comments.
"It was fitting that we got to play all three nights. I thought our fans were outstanding. Hopefully those people will continue to back us in the future."
The idea of letting the bands perform at tournament games was a stroke of genius. It really enhanced the atmosphere and got the crowd pumped up.
In the final two years of this current rotation, North Knox is scheduled to host the Class 2A boys sectional in 2010 with EGHS to have the sectional again in 2011.
With five minutes and 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the sectional title game, Eastern Greene guard Davis Russell suffered a gash over his eye and had to leave the game and be taken to the hospital to be stitched up.
"Losing Russell was big," said Igel. "He is a shooter and ball handling, but more importantly he is a perimeter defender.
"But you've got to play through things like that. We did that all year long."
The Thunderbirds will return four of five starters as David Gray will be lost to graduation. But Chris Graham and Drew Igel also will be lost out of the top nine.
"It will be a tough couple of weeks," Igel said of putting the sectional behind them and start focusing on 2009-10. "But at some point, we will look back and realize the good things we did.
"More importantly, we got the program going in the right direction again," Igel said of going from three wins to 11 this year. "But those three seniors are going to be missed for the hard work and determination that they gave to the program. It is a shame they couldn't have left with a sectional championship, but they left a legacy on the program with their effort and leadership."
How fitting was it that the first sectional title game in that new building came down to Eastern Greene and Bloomfield? It was the first time since 1989 that the T-Birds and the Cards had met in the post season.
Bloomfield defeated EGHS 74-57 in the semifinals at the Central (Switz City) Sectional 20 years ago. The Cards topped Eastern Greene 45-37 in the 1988 sectional, also at Switz City.
This was just the second sectional since BHS moved up from Class A to 2A for the tournament.
We will have to wait to see what the new alignment looks like for the 2011-12 season.
Linton-Stockton, North Knox, South Knox, Eastern Greene and Bloomfield were all to be commended for their competitiveness. It was an excellent tournament and yours truly was thankful to sit court side for every game.
B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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