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Igel bids good-bye to solid group of seniorsPosted Monday, March 14, 2011, at 3:04 PM
HUNTINGBURG -- Every coach always hates to see his seniors leave the program.
For Eastern Greene boys basketball coach Andy Igel, it was especially tough, after watching his Thunderbirds come up on the short end of a 49-44 loss to No. 1-ranked Forest Park on Saturday night in the Class 2A Southridge Regional title game.
It was just four years ago when Davis Russell, Tyler Igel, Zack Johnson, Zach Ingram and Logan Hash were freshmen when the program bottomed out, winning just 3 of 21 games.
They improved to 11-13 as sophomores, narrowly losing to Bloomfield in the sectional championship game in 2009.
Last year they won 13 of 22 games before being joined by senior transfer Ray Darnell this year.
The 2010-11 Thunderbirds ended up with a 23-3 record, tying the 2001 team (23-2) for wins in a season, including a 52-50 overtime win Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the regional.
"I just hate it for those seniors," Igel said. "Those are kids that have been through a lot -- battled, scratched, clawed, whatever they had to do to be successful.
"Now they've got something to hang their hat on: Tied the school record for career wins, a regional finalist, played the No. 1 team to the wire, what more can you say?"
Igel said they were instrumental in helping the Thunderbirds' return to prominence.
"That is going to be their legacy," he said. "They were the group that helped get things turned around for us."
They all had unique roles, Igel said. Hash did not play as much as the other five, but was a big part of their preparation; Igel was expected to run the team and knock down open shots when they presented themselves; Ingram had to adjust to playing back-up center behind Darnell but still provided boundless energy; Johnson was a slasher and dangerous offensive weapon; Darnell was to use his size and strength in the paint and on the boards; and Russell became the team's lock down defender at multiple positions and 3-point threat.
"The reason we had this kind of season was because everyone accepted their roles," said coach Igel. "It is not always easy to have to change.
"But this group of seniors led the way. They are a great bunch of kids. I really liked this group. I feel so bad for them to come up short. But they had a great run, tying the school record for wins and winning a sectional. We took the No. 1 team in the state right down to the wire. They have nothing to be down about."
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