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A look back at the county tournament

Posted Thursday, January 13, 2011, at 4:50 PM

SWITZ CITY -- With the Greene County Invitational in the books, I thought I would take a look back at the 41st GCI and a few things that stood out, at least to yours truly.

I am sure that Class 2A No. 5 Eastern Greene, which captured its all-time leading 11th GCI title with wins over North Central, Clay City and Vincennes Rivet, is hoping this is the first of many celebrations this season.

"This is a whole different feeling," said Eastern Greene center Ray Darnell, a transfer from New Jersey who averaged 14 points per game during the tournament to raise his season total to 12.8. "I have never cut down nets before.

"We are fifth but we want to be No. 1. We are coming for Forest Park."The Rangers are currently a top of the Class 2A poll with a 10-0 record. They play at Class 2A No. 11 North Posey (8-0) Saturday night. The Thunderbirds have won their first nine games.

JT Yoho, Eastern Greene's 6-6 junior guard, averaged 19 points per game during the tournament, earning all-GCI honors, like Darnell. He is second in the area in scoring at 18.8 ppg.

The Thunderbirds are vying for their first Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference title since tying for the crown in 2006. Eastern Greene and North Daviess, ranked No. 9 in Class A and 8-3 overall, are both 1-0 in league play with seven conference games to go.

"Hopefully this is just practice at cutting down the nets," said Yoho. "The this just the first of several goals that we have set for this season."

Eastern Greene won the first quarter 20-2 on the way to a 64-48 victory over Rivet. But that meant the Patriots, who have been in the GCI title game four years in a row (winning in 2009), won the last three quarters 46-44.

"We didn't adjust well to their pressure. They're so athletic and bigger and stronger than we are. It's hard to recreate that in practice," Rivet coach Tim Vieke told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial. "It took us awhile to adjust. I was proud how our guys didn't give up. They played hard the whole way.

"Eastern is among the best teams we'll play, and they exposed some weaknesses of ours. We didn't defend the post well, we didn't rebound well and they sped us up quicker than we wanted to play. But we wanted to get to the championship game, and we're pleased with that. We finished the first half of our season at 7-3 and I'm pleased with that."

Eastern Greene coach Andy Igel said that Rivet is for real.

"North Daviess, Loogootee and Barr-Reeve better watch out for Rivet," he said. "They are a very good basketball team and getting better."

I think the team that might have made the most strides during the tournament, other than EGHS and Rivet, might have been Clay City.

They won as many games (two) in five nights as they did in the first month of the season. A big second half lifted them past Linton-Stockton in the third-place game.

The Eels were very competitive in losing to Eastern Greene 58-43 in the semifinals Jan. 7. Ironically the two teams will meet again Friday at Clay City and I'm sure the T-Birds will be jacked.

Between Ben Denker, Jake Tiefel, Justin Rodgers and Tyler Bridgewater, they have four solid players.

"We were competitive in all three games," said Clay City coach Vance Edmondson, who's voice can be heard distinctly throughout any gym. "This week was a gut check for us."

Tyler Talpas poured in a career-high 37 points in a 61-51 victory over North Central Jan. 6. He made 12 of 23 shots, including four 3-pointers.

For the tournament, he averaged 28.6, raising his area-leading season average to 23.3.

Last season, he averaged 13.3 with a high of 26.

Talpas said that his teammates have been doing a really good job of setting screens and helping him to get open and he just wants to do whatever it takes to help the Bulldogs win.

"I am just trying to knock down shots," said Talpas. "At times, I was on fire.

"I just want to get to the basket and make things happen."

Talpas has already made the same number of free throws (68) that he attempted last year. His is 68 of 96 for a .708 percentage. Last season, he was 50 of 68 (.735).

Ryan O'Neall of Bloomfield has made 51 of 78 attempts at the foul line, the second most makes and attempts locally. How many years will two guards lead the area in free throw attempts? Maybe when Joey Hart and Michael Allen were leading Union (Dugger) and Shakamak in the late 1980s.

Including Talpas, Yoho, Darnell and O'Neall, there are 14 boys players scoring at least 10 points per game. The list includes Dess Fougerousse and Austin Karazsia of Linton-Stockton, Justin Crody, Brock Dowell and Brodie Crowe of Shakamak, Zack Johnson of Eastern Greene, Drake Vandeventer and Ben Hays of Bloomfield and Cole Goodman and John Ashcraft of WRV.

Ashcraft averaged 0.3 points in eight games last year. After averaging almost 11 per game during the GCI, he is now scoring at exactly 10 per game. He just edged out teammate Cade Hill for a spot on the all-tournament team.

Eastern Greene defensive stopper Davis Russell has seen his average dip to 9.2, but I am sure coach Igel doesn't mind as long as Russell continues to chase their opponent's best perimeter players, like Kendall Vieke of Rivet.

Shakamak seemed to lose some momentum that it gained during the Wabash Valley Classic, as did Linton-Stockton. But both the Lakers and Miners can be very dangerous teams.

With all the holiday tournaments behind us, teams can now focus on trying to build momentum heading into the post season, which is less than two months away. It should be a little more than interesting as the local boys teams prepare for the Class 2A Eastern Greene and Class A White River Valley Sectionals March 1, 4 and 5.

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 hargisbj@gmail.com.



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Enough said
B.J. Hargis
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