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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A look back at the Greene County Invitational

Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012, at 12:12 PM

SWITZ CITY -- With the 42nd annual Greene County Invitational boys basketball tournament in the books, I thought I would take a look back at the five-day, 12 game-event and jot down some observations and see if there were any insights gained moving forward into the final two months of the high school boys regular season.

The Thunderbirds of Eastern Greene, despite only gathering enough votes to earn the 19th spot in the latest Class 2A poll by The Associated Press, flexed their muscles and won three games by double figures, controlling Linton-Stockton and dominating North Central and Shakamak. It actually was more of a clinic.

If the Thunderbirds were struggling earlier in a loss at Owen Valley and as they searched to find their roles in a victory at Bloomfield in the first week of the season, they don't seem to be now. They probably should send a thank you card to the Patriots for a wake-up call.

They will take a nine-game winning streak into home games with Clay City and Martinsville this weekend. Their schedule also features home games with Bedford North Lawrence, White River Valley, Edgewood, Paoli and former Class A No. 1 North Daviess, who beat EGHS a year ago. They also have road dates at Linton-Stockton, at Shakamak and at sectional foe South Knox.

The line-up of Miles Hutchison, Nathan Cobine, JT Yoho, Brody Martin and Zach Bruner, along with key reserves Tyler Brough, Kurtis Stille, Logan Frye and Blake Crowe, appears to be in high gear. Earlier, EGHS was trying to figure out who would play where and who would score. That doesn't seem to be a problem now as several Thunderbirds have offensive abilities, all work at the defensive end and all are willing to make the extra pass.

Although there is a lot of hoops to be played and not to shortchange the other squads, I am sure roundball fans are already thinking about a potential Sullivan-Eastern Greene sectional match-up. But the other five squads could have something to say about that.

One Eastern Greene player told me that everyone had Sullivan as the preseason sectional pick, but that the Thunderbirds are staking their claim as well.

Linton-Stockton, who has a lot of talent and ability, left the tournament with a good taste in their mouths after a 55-31 thrashing of Clay City in the fifth-place game Saturday.

The Class 2A Miners are still trying to find their stride. There is enough time to get it done. They still have some interesting games left on their regular season schedule. Only time will tell if they can make some noise at the Class 2A North Knox Sectional.

After losing to Shakamak in the semifinals Friday, White River Valley finished 2-1. They defeated North Central 58-46 for third place.

The Class A Wolverines, who are ranked No. 12, have an impressive 8-2 record and Cade Hill and John Ashcraft are as good as any 1-2 duo in the area.

They have a lot of tough road games, including at Shakamak, at Sullivan, at Clay City and at Barr-Reeve, who recently took over as the No. 1 team in Class A. Seven of their remaining 11 games are away from the friendly confines at Switz City. The team bus driver at WRV will actually earn his money, Joe.

Shakamak, who played seven games in an 11-day stretch including four at the Wabash Valley Classic and three at the GCI, had good wins over Clay City and WRV, but offered little resistance against EGHS.

When Brock Dowell, Brodie Crowe and Justin Crody are all playing well, the Lakers, currently No. 14, are dangerous. Should be an interesting Class A Sectional at WRV.

Union guard Tyler Talpas is still tops in the area in scoring. Although Talpas, who missed two games earlier with a back injury, is the focal point of defenses, he has scored 17 or more in every game and averaged over 20 per in the GCI.

The Bulldogs went 0-3 and finished eighth in the tournament, but lost their finale to Rivet 57-53. Linton-Stockton coach Joey Hart said they are dangerous. This is especially so when Sterling Langley and Zac Birdsong are knocking down threes and Ethan Fettig is playing well inside.

Rivet played its final game in the GCI. The Patriots never won the tournament, but finished second in 2011 and 2012. Bloomfield will be replace Rivet in 2013, which will be the first time all the county schools have participated in the GCI.

Even though they lost 2 of 3 games, including an OT thriller in the first round to Shakamak, Clay City has a scary team.

Brylan Jones is solid in the post and Ben Denker has to be accounted for on the perimeter. I like the Eels, tied for 10th in the latest Class A poll, and they will be a tough out at WRV.

So as we bid farewell to the regular season tournaments, there is only one tourney of importance remaining -- the Indiana High School Athletic Association state tournament.

The pairings will be announced at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, unless the IHSAA changes the date and time like they have in the past.

Should be an interesting sprint the finish. Stay tuned.

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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