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Pairings announced for the Wabash Valley ClassicPosted Wednesday, December 1, 2010, at 5:56 PM
Linton-Stockton boys basketball coach Joey Hart smiles after drawing Riverton Parke in the first round of the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic Dec. 27. Hart faced the Panthers three times last year as coach of the Turkey Run Warriors. (By B.J. Hargis/Greene County Daily World).
I might not go that far, but the 16-team tournament in its 11th season, a pale comparison of the Wabash Valley tournament of days of yesteryear, will feature 28 games in four days (Dec. 27-30) at a great price.
An all-tourney pass, good for all four days of the event, this year at South, is $20.
A daily ticket, good for all eight games on Dec. 27-29 and four games on Dec. 30, is just $6.
For fans of the all the 16 teams, including Bloomfield, Linton-Stockton, Shakamak, Monrovia, Owen Valley, Rockville, South Vermillion, Terre Haute North, South, Turkey Run, West Vigo, Sullivan, Riverton Parke, Northview and the two Illinois entrants Casey-Westfield and Marshall, the best way to support your teams is to buy a tourney pass at your school.
They will be available until schools close for Christmas break. Tickets will be sold at South, but your local schools received a percentage and can put more loot in their coffers if you purchase ducats from them.
There will be a Greene County flavor to the upper half of the bracket as Linton-Stockton will face Riverton Parke at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 27. Casey-Westfield will be the opponent for Bloomfield at 11:30 a.m.
At 1:30 p.m., Northview will meet Shakamak and then Turkey Run will play Monrovia at 2:30 p.m.
In the bottom half of the draw, Owen Valley will meet Marshall at 4 p.m., South will take on North at 5:30 p.m., South Vermillion will play defending champ Sullivan in a battle of Western Indiana Conference teams at 7 p.m. and Rockville will face West Vigo in the final game of day one at 8:30 p.m.
Those will be the game times for the first three days with games set for 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 30.
The pairings were drawn out by former Clay City and Indiana State University standout Bob Heaton, who now serves as a State Representative for District 46.
"I like the draw just fine," said Shakamak coach Steve Brett, whose Lakers will be taking on a Northview team coached by Ernie Maesch, who preceded Brett at SHS. "I think most of the teams in the upper bracket are pretty evenly matched.
"In the bottom bracket, you have both Terre Haute schools and some other pretty good teams, including defending champion Sullivan."
Brett, whose Lakers won 3 of 4 games at the Classic last year, said this tournament is a good alternative when compared to the past.
"I can remember when nobody played over the holidays," said Brett. "It was not a good thing to have that much time off between games. This tournament is a good thing for players, coaches and fans.
"There are good teams and everybody gets to see a lot of basketball."
Maesch's Knights, who opened with a 36-33 loss at Vincennes Lincoln to begin the season last week, said his team is not 100 percent yet, but he has a veteran group that he is optimistic about.
If you look at the history, it was almost inevitable that Linton-Stockton would play Riverton Parke in the Wabash Valley Classic, especially if you figure in the history that new Miner coach Joey Hart has with the Panthers.
The Miners and Panthers have met in two of the past three tournaments, with the teams splitting the two meetings.
When Hart was at Turkey Run, his Warriors were regular opponents of Riverton Parke.
"We played them three times last year," Hart said of facing Riverton Parke in the regular season, Classic and in the sectional. "I can't seem to get away from those guys.
"We play them three or four times a year."
In fact, they played a minimum of two times in each of the past five seasons.
"You can say I know Riverton Parke pretty well," said Hart, who ironically was sitting at the same table as Panthers coach Charlie Martin when the pairings were announced and they both couldn't help but smile.
Bloomfield coach John Bucher cracked a joke about the schedule.
"I am glad that we are not playing the 10 a.m. game, At least we get to sleep in," said the second-year Cardinal coach. "Obviously we don't know a lot about Casey-Westfield and will have to find some film on them."
All three coaches said that playing a minimum of three games in three days and possibly four in four is good preparation for the state tournament in the first week of March and they enjoy playing good competition, sometimes against different teams.
"You never know from year to year who you might be playing," said Bucher. "And that is a good thing."
Hart said preparing with little prep time is a good thing.
"This is a great opportunity for your team to get better," said Hart. "It is great for fans of Indiana High School basketball.
"It is a great week to test yourself and see how much you can improve. It is good preparation for the sectional. To win a sectional, you have to play at least two games in two nights. This gives you a chance to put today's game behind you and get ready to play again the next day."
Rhett Smith, Sullivan's big man who is current out with 10 pins in two fingers on his broken left hand, could be back in time for the Classic, according to WNDI-FM 95.3 owner John Montgomery.
One of the most encouraging sights of the day was watching new Turkey Run coach Grant McVay.
McVay, who posted a 101-95 record in nine seasons at Clay City including winning their first sectional (2009) since Heaton led the Eels past Sullivan in overtime in the 1975 title game, is in his first season at Turkey Run.
If you remember, McVay was severely injured in May 2009 after a tree he was cutting down at the Turkey Run Golf Course fell and struck him. This came shortly after he stepped down after leading the Eels to their sectional victory.
I did not get a chance to talk to Grant, who never was shy about telling you exactly what he felt, but he looked great. If I remember correctly, McVay was a graduate of Turkey Run.
On a personal note, my wife always is a little jealous when I am "forced" to go to an event featuring Pizza Hut pizza. There are not many no shows when the my beloved colleagues are offered free food.
To keep things civil on the home front, I brought my wife home Krispy Kreme donuts.
She smiled and asked me what toppings I had on my pizza. She was just playing the role of a concerned wife.
B.J. Hargis is sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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