Basketball season is “officially” over now - at least for the five Greene County schools.
Before we revisit “the season that was” there is something I must address.
I need to issue a public apology.
After Linton-Stockton and Eastern Greene lost on the opening night of the sectional, I tweeted - wrongfully so - “Basketball season’s over.”
Of course it was wrong. Not to mention foolish, short-sighted, hurtful and disrespectful.
I sincerely apologize for my ill-advised comment.
Yes, it was a “heat of the moment” thing. No, that’s not an excuse.
What I said was inexcusable.
I learned a hard lesson.
I can’t undo the damage. All I can do is extend my apologies to those I slighted. Move forward and be ever mindful my statements must be unbiased.
And if I’m ever foolhardy enough again to offer my unfiltered opinion, I’d better be prepared to deal with the consequences.
I’m not Donald J. Trump…
Now. Back to the season.
Any discussion of the season just concluded rightly has to start with the Shakamak Lakers.
After all, there was “another” Greene County sectional - and the Lakers won it!
It was Shakamak’s first sectional championship since 2008 and the seventh in school history.
To get to the sectional final, the Lakers had to knock off Bloomfield for a third time this season.
Coaches always talk about how tough it is to beat the same team three times in one season.
And the Cardinals certainly made it tough.
In the most exciting game at either sectional, in front of a packed house at Switz City in the Friday semifinal, Bloomfield rallied from a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to tie the score at 62 with 20 seconds left.
Lane Gilbert made good on 3-of-4 foul shots in the closing seconds to hand Shakamak its third victory of the season over the Cards, 65-62.
It was the Lakers’ first win over the Cards, 53-50 at Bloomfield in the second game of the season, that made people sit up and take notice.
“Nobody expected us to win the game, especially at Bloomfield,” Shakamak coach Nate O’Neall said. “Nobody expected us to win and I played that card. We had nothing to lose.”
O’Neall relished the underdog role.
And the Lakers - a decided underdog - certainly got the Tindley Tigers’ attention Saturday morning at the Martinsville Regional.
Shakamak came out and busted the taller, more athletic Tigers squarely in the chops, jumping out to early 9-2 and 15-8 leads.
The Lakers trailed by just four, 45-41 with just over six minutes to play and had a chance to cut it to two at the free throw line.
But Shakamak missed three free throws in a critical stretch that saw Tindley extend its lead to 55-43 and pull away for the 64-49 victory.
The Lakers certainly didn’t enter the postseason on a roll.
Shakamak ended the regular season on a four-game losing skid. And aside from an overtime loss to Owen Valley in the regular-season finale - on Senior Night in Jasonville - none of the losses were even close.
The Lakers lost 57-22 to North Daviess, 87-61 at Eastern Greene and 84-45 against a fired-up Cloverdale on Cooper Neese’s Senior Night.
“Even when we had that four-game skid when we lost by an average of 26 or 27 points a game we never quit on the kids,” O’Neall pointed out. “We never lost sight and we never gave up hope.”
The Barr-Reeve Vikings ended the Linton Miners bid for a fifth consecutive sectional championship, 37-34 in the Class 2A Sectional 47 opener at Eastern Greene.
Then the South Knox Spartans defeated the host Thunderbirds in the nightcap by the identical 56-40 score as South Knox’s regular-season win at Eastern Greene.
And for the second year in a row, South Knox and coach Mark Rohrer had Barr-Reeve and Rohrer’s old mentor Bryan Hughes’ number.
The Spartans dealt the Vikings a 51-45 setback in the sectional championship, sending Barr-Reeve back to 1A after a two-year stint in 2A due to the IHSAA Tournament Success Factor.
It didn’t escape notice South Knox was topped 48-32 by former Eastern Greene coach Levi Carmichael’s Crawford County squad in the Paoli Regional championship.
Carmichael, Eastern Greene’s all-time leading career scorer, has piloted the Wolfpack to a 21-6 record -so far - in his second season at the Crawford County helm.
After the four-time defending 2A sectional champs graduated five key seniors, the Miners entered this season with quite a few question marks. But in what was supposed to be a transition year, Linton-Stockton finished 20-5.
The biggest highlights had to be the overtime wins over Terre Haute South and Northview on back-to-back nights in the Wabash Valley Classic.
The Miners overcame third-quarter deficits of 11 points against South and seven points to Northview, coming back to force the extra sessions.
Josh Dieball fired the shot heard ‘round the Wabash Valley, going the length of the floor for the game winner at the buzzer to knock off the South Braves, 65-64.
And who can forget the Linton-Stockton - Eastern Greene barnburner in the Greene County Invitational championship?
Eastern hit 7-of-8 shots in the first quarter and 12 of 15 in the first half, including eight 3-pointers.
The T-Birds early barrage had Linton-Stockton down 22-9. Then the Miners ran off 12 straight points to get within one.
Eastern nailed three more from deep to push the lead back to double digits until Linton went on a 10-0 run to even the score at the half.
And so it went the rest of the night.
The teams were still tied at 51 after Ethan Helton’s third triple with 4:24 to play.
Then the Miners scored 10 of the next 12 before Jeff Graham’s final heave - his sixth 3-pointer - swished, accounting for the 61-56 final tally.
I was fortunate enough to witness the area’s top two players - Shakamak’s Tanner Yeryar and Linton-Stockton’s Josh Dieball - eclipse the 1,000-point career scoring mark in person.
Yeryar’s 1000th point came on a 3-pointer, his first shot of the game against Edgewood in the Wabash Valley Classic.
Number 1,000 for Dieball came, fittingly, on a steal and a layup in the third quarter against Bloomfield at home.
I hope to see both of you continue your playing careers at the next level. Good Luck!
This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive review of the season past.
It’s just a scant handful of what I thought were some of this year’s most significant happenings on the local high school basketball scene.
There are dozens of memorable moments I missed: White River Valley’s 59-51 win over Clay City in the “throwback” game at the old L&M gym; Eastern’s 88-85 shootout at the O.K. Corral (a.k.a. the Mustang Corral) at Edgewood; and Bloomfield taking Barr-Reeve to overtime in the regular-season finale at Glover Gym, just to name a few.
And there are numerous individuals I didn’t mention.
But soon the Greene County Daily World will be coming out with its 2016-17 boys basketball All-Area Team.
I can’t reveal everything yet. But this much I can tell you - every Greene County school has at least two players worthy of consideration.
And before you know it, there will be summer shootouts, AAU ball, and another season will soon be upon us.
Terry Schwinghammer is a sports writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487, ext. 27. He can also be reached via email at email@example.com.