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Bet you didn't know you got a history lesson?Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2010, at 4:26 PM
SWITZ CITY -- This column is geared toward the younger members of the readership -- even though the rest of you are welcome to stick around as well -- that were in attendance at Monday's championship game of the Greene County Invitational, won by Shakamak 58-51 over Vincennes Rivet.
While you were watching Billy Newton of Shakamak and Kendall Vieke of Vincennes Rivet put on a scoring clinic by draining 30 and 35 points respectively, you were also getting a history lesson on the development of basketball over the past 30 years or so.
What you were allowed to witness was nothing short of amazing. The two teams gave you a very solid effort and performance on the court that saw the game come down to the final minutes.
What you were allowed to see was a showcase for two very talented young athletes who are the sparkplugs of their respective teams.
But maybe more importantly, what you were allowed to see was how basketball was meant to be played by the standards of my generation and generations past.
Before I go further, let me give you all some background as to whence I speak.
Shakamak coach Steve Brett was an assistant coach under the man who guided Vincennes Lincoln to many a sectional title until 1977 when he went on his path to head coaching.
Vincennes Rivet coach Tim Vieke was a player on the 1981 state champion Alices for the same coach -- Orlando "Gunner" Wyman, a fact I eluded to in my game story on the final, for those of you who might have missed the reference -- and he did an amicable job of carrying on the "family tradition" of solid, fundamental team-oriented basketball.
I heard fans on both sides of the court yelling or grumbling about players not taking the first open shot they were afforded. They were moaning and groaning about how the players were missing opportunities.
Perhaps it was them who were missing the opportunities. Missing the opportunity to enjoy a game that wasn't a blur or a bomb-fest dominated by foul calls and players being shoved, pushed and run silly.
Some of my favorite memories of high school hoops is watching a controlled game where strategy and tactics were more important than how quickly and how often points could be put on the scoreboard.
It was a time when underdogs really had a legitimate chance to knock off the powerhouse from the big city, a time when running a set play was vital to the success or failure of a game.
As Monday's game unfolded, I was quickly reminded that high school basketball hasn't went the way of the college or pro game.
That it still was based on how the team as a whole played instead of how one or two individuals dominated.
I'll admit that Newton and Vieke did dominate in their own way, but they weren't the only pieces to the puzzle.
Justin Crody of Shakamak and Brady Mouzin of Rivet were also key parts to the puzzle. The two were role players that did a very solid job without scoring a lot points.
They set picks, rolled off screens and put themselves in position on the court to be in the right place.
Players such as Tyler Richardson of the Lakers and Benjamin Welage of the Patriots were game pieces that did their jobs.
Whether it was getting open on the wing to deal a pass inside or whether it was taking a pass inside and kicking it back out, it was all one beautiful, fluid motion that defined the way basketball was played not so long ago.
It was nice to see that a game like that still exists. And it's even nicer to know that it won't be completely gone anytime soon.
Maybe this will fall on deaf eyes and ears, or maybe you think I'm just rambling about how things were in the "good old days".
If you feel that way, then at least grant me this -- wasn't it pretty nice seeing two teams respond to the situation in kind and play what turned out to be a pretty evenly matched contest?
Rick Curl is a sports writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by phone at (812) 847-4487 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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