I got to hang out with Al Stilley after the Bloomfield game Saturday.
Driving over 200 miles and watching two regional basketball games proved to be a memorable day in my sports writing career. I saw the joy Linton had in winning a regional just hours after the heartbreak Bloomfield felt in losing its chance.
Martinsville was the venue for Bloomfield taking Indianapolis Lutheran and it’s a gym I covered many games at when I freelanced for the Martinsville Reporter-Times. The day I went on a first date with my future wife, I had completed a Martinsville basketball season preview just hours prior.
What Bloomfield could have done differently to avoid its 43-40 loss is not something my sports coverage is about. Fans in Richland Township will be talking about the key plays of the defeat for months if not years. It just stinks for the Cardinals the timing of one its weaker performances of the season.
If you had told me Bloomfield would win 24 games this season back in November I would have been skeptical. The Cardinals had a talented senior class graduate last season and had to replace Baylin Graf. Yet, Bloomfield carried a No. 1 ranking for most of the season in Class A. Its three regular season defeats were to Linton (twice) and 4A North Central on short rest.
Saturday against Lutheran was the first game where it was apparent Bloomfield was missing Graf. Lutheran was physical and the Cardinals could have used his strength and ability to protect the basketball.
After the game, I greatly appreciated some compliments from Bloomfield parents of my coverage. It meant a lot as it is a challenge for me to cover two No. 1 teams.
At the game was my former colleague in Al Stilley. Stilley and I covered sports for the Southsider Voice for in Indy for about six years together. He did most of the writing and I did the photo and video as it was good to see him again. Stilley is known very well at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by NASCAR and Indy Car drivers.
I made the trip to Huntinburg for Linton’s game with North Decatur. I went from talking to Al Stilley to talking to Andy Amey. These regional games are some of the only times where newspaper reporters interact with each other.
Linton was too much for North Decatur, the Miners were bigger and longer on the court. Freshman Paul Oliver looked like a volleyball player, spiking the basketball on offensive rebounds against the smaller Chargers. At no point did I really feel Linton was in danger of losing.
Talking to Linton players and coaches it was obvious what a relief it was to win a regional after two years of falling in the game. The best moment was watching junior Braden Walters carry a broken chair out of the Huntingburg Memorial Gym. Walters dove after a loose ball in the third quarter and went over the media tables. He ended up breaking a chair with the collision and would take it home.
Linton will next play at Southport High School against Parke Heritage at noon. Another gym I have covered a good number of games at.
It will be another basketball day in Southern Indiana for me.
Nathan Pace is the Sports Editor of the Greene County Daily World and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. His “Low Budget Sports Show” airs weekly on Facebook Live.