Every year at the end of December/first of January the Greene County Daily World publishes its Top Ten sports stories of the year.
It’s Fourth of July Week and 2019 is half over. Spring sports season has been finished for a month. The new school year begins in a month or so and we’re less than a month from the official start of fall sports practice.
So I thought now would be a good time to revisit some of the biggest moments in local high school sports for the first half of the year.
Some of these aren’t “stories”; rather, they’re “memorable moments” as the headline suggests. Others are stories in and of themselves and may wind up at or near the top of our annual Top Ten list.
Here are seven of my “Most Memorable Moments” of 2019 to date:
Linton’s buzzer-beater at Paoli Regional
In the morning session of the 2A Paoli Regional the Linton Miners trailed the host Paoli Rams by 13 points. A furious fourth-quarter comeback erased the deficit. The Miners took the lead, 70-69 on a pair of Lincoln Hale free throws with 24.5 seconds remaining, only to see the Rams regain the lead on an Ashton Minton bucket.
Coaches always say close games are decided by many different plays and you can point to any one of them, or several. But without what transpired next, Linton’s State Finals run would not have happened.
With 4.8 seconds on the clock, Hale took the inbounds pass on the run, darted up the sideline, dribbled behind his back, then made a beeline for the top of the key.
He drew three defenders and spotted Sammy Robbins wide open underneath. Robbins laid it in at the buzzer for the game-winner.
And the rest is history.
Cardinals win two close ones at Martinsville
The Linton Miners weren’t the only ones providing regional thrills.
In the 1A Martinsville Regional the Bloomfield Cardinals rallied twice to set down the Indianapolis Metropolitan Pumas 49-43. In the nightcap the Cards withstood a late charge from Greenwood Christian and held on to win 52-50 for the eighth regional championship in the school’s history.
And for the first time in history two Greene County teams won regional championships and advance to the semistate. That is a story all in itself.
Evan Slover wins Mental Attitude award
The Arthur L. Trester award is often viewed as a “consolation prize” awarded to a player from the losing team. Except of course when a player from the winning team takes home the coveted prize.
But I doubt if Evan Slover will be giving back his Trester Award anytime soon.
“I had no clue I won it,” the senior point guard said. “It was a total surprise. I never thought it would be me. I just wanted to play and win a state championship.”
The Trester Mental Attitude Award is annually presented to a senior participant in the State Finals who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability. Candidates are nominated by their school principals and coaches.
Slover is a three-time All-Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference selection and was team captain the past two seasons.
He holds the Linton-Stockton school record with a 4.22-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Slover maintained a 3.615 grade-point average and is a member of the National Honor Society.
He plans to attend the University of Southern Indiana and major in mechanical engineering.
“It’s very special,” said Evan. “My parents have always taught me to treat people how I’d want to be treated. Receiving this award means a lot.”
Miner coach Joey Hart said, “Evan is as good a kid as we’ve ever had,” Hart said. “His heart is bigger than this gym. Special kid, special competitor.”
Slover may not have known he was going to win the Trester Award. But Hart had an inkling.
“I thought we were going to get two today,” he said.
Lincoln Hale and Vanessa Shafford receive D1 offers
Sticking with basketball for a moment – this is Indiana after all – it’s not unheard of for two Greene County basketball players, or even two from the same high school to receive offers to play college basketball at the Division I level. But it’s rare enough that when it does happen it’s a special moment.
In the past three weeks a pair of Linton-Stockton incoming juniors – Lincoln Hale and Vanessa Shafford – were extended formal offers from Division I programs.
Hale was offered by Indiana State University and Shafford was extended an invitation to the University of Evansville. The Sycamores and Purple Aces both compete in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Hale (18.4 points per game) and Shafford (16.7 ppg) each led the area in scoring as sophomores.
Both have received interest from multiple schools and more offers are likely to come for these two. Remember, they’re only halfway through high school.
Linton vs. Edgewood baseball: The Battle at the Bart
Normally, most high school baseball games don’t produce “memorable moments.” But this was more than just another ordinary high school baseball game. It was an event.
The regular-season finale between the Linton Miners and Edgewood Mustangs was originally scheduled as a home game for the Miners. But with Linton hosting the 2A softball sectionals the teams and school administrators sought to move the game to a different site. And through the cooperation of the schools – and Indiana University – they made it happen.
IU agreed to host the game at Bart Kaufman Field on campus. The meeting between the 3A third-ranked Mustangs and the 2A fifth-ranked Miners was billed as the “Battle at the Bart.”
There was ample reason for moving the game to the Hoosiers’ venue. Each team has two IU baseball commits: Linton’s Kip Fougerousse and Josh Pyne; and Edgewood’s Ethan Vecrumba and Luke Hayden.
Fougerousse homered off Edgewood’s ace Hayden – an impressive clout considering Kaufman Field has big-league dimensions (330 feet down the foul lines, 400 to straightaway center).
Edgewood won 8-5. The Mustangs went on to lose a heartbreaker, 2-1 to Andrean in the State Finals at Victory Field.
The Miners lost to the Southridge Raiders in the sectional for the second year in a row. The Raiders also lost a one-run heartbreaker in the State Finals, 4-3 to Alexandria.
Laker baseball wins a pair of postseason one-run thrillers
Shakamak baseball can usually be counted on for a memorable moment or two. And this year is no different.
The Lakers outlasted the Clay City Eels 1-0 in nine innings on the way to the school’s 25th sectional title. The next week at the Morristown Regional Shakamak held off Rising Sun 3-2 in a game that came down to the final pitch.
In both games the Lakers called upon ace Levi Webb.
Webb pitched a three-hit shutout as the Lakers avenged a regular-season loss to the Eels.
The next week Webb limited Rising Sun’s potent lineup to two hits through six innings. The favored Shiners entered the regional batting .322 as a team – some 60 points higher than Shakamak.
Webb snuffed out a seventh-inning rally. With the tying run 90 feet away the Laker ace fanned Brayden Bush on a 3-2 pitch, sending the Lakers to the regional final.
Bloomington North Boys Track Regional
Fourteen Greene County boys – a higher than usual number for the county – headed to Bloomington North for the IHSAA boys track and field regional.
It’s tough to advance from the Bloomington North sectional – a “fast” sectional with good marks in the running and field events.
And for many of the competitors, personal records were falling like dominoes.
White River Valley thrower Payton Jackson heaved the shot a personal-best 48-4, finishing ninth.
WRV’s Joe Records shattered his own personal and school records in the 1,600-meter run by six seconds. Records finished fifth overall in a time of 4:31.82.
Linton’s Evan Slover vaulted a career-best 13-4 in the pole vault – two inches shy of the school record. Slover also finished fifth.
One who didn’t set a personal record was WRV discus thrower Clayton Hoover. Hoover flung the saucer 156-11 in the county meet.
His regional effort of 155-2 didn’t quite match his best. But it was good enough for a third-place finish and an automatic berth to the state meet, where he finished 21st.
Let’s see if fall sports season and the first month of basketball bring us some more memorable moments.