Well, drat. That’s the thing about tournaments. Suddenly they end. The IHSAA high school basketball tournament seems especially cruel, because fortunes swing so quickly.
That was the case for Crawfordsville, Saturday. The Athenians looked as if they had the Sectional 25 championship in hand. Then they didn’t. Then they did. Then they didn’t, ultimately losing a 52-51 overtime thriller to Greencastle.
In doing so, Greencastle secured their first Sectional title since 2004.
Eight other state teams also ended long championship droughts, Saturday. Chesterton won for the first time since 1987, upsetting Valparaiso 35-30. The two teams played February 15, and No. 4 ranked Valpo defeated the Trojans 67-39.
Huntington North (2001), Beech Grove (2008), Tell City (1993), Argos (2005), Wabash (1967), and Randolph Southern (2001) all erased decade-plus dry spells. Hanover Central won their first Sectional in the 33 year school history.
I love attending games with my friends. I happened to be at two Sectionals this weekend — Seymour and New Castle — each with thrilling outcomes. At Seymour, I was reminded that although the tournament isn’t the way I remember it from years ago, some things in Indiana never change.
While sitting court side, I watched three older couples shuffle to catch up with another friend, who was saving a row of seats directly in front of us, just like a school girl saving seats in the high school lunch room. They settled in with broad smiles in satisfaction of nabbing a block of the most highly sought-after seats in the gym.
The semifinal game wasn’t underway more than a couple of minutes when I noticed the lady sitting directly in front of me wasn’t feeling well. She had awful color, and I could tell by her body language that she was growing increasingly distressed.
I alerted her friends, who hadn’t noticed as quickly as I had, and raced to get help. The medical professionals arrived, and with her husband to lean on, the troubled gal was slowly escorted to the medical room. Midway through the first quarter, her friends received word that “Madge” was being transferred to the Jackson County Hospital.
That would be the end of the tale, if not for one thing. I kept waiting for her friends to gather their things, and work their way toward the exit to be with their friend at the hospital during her time in need.
Nope. No one budged. This is Indiana basketball, I thought, and we aren’t leaving these cherry seats for anything! I imagined the crew walking out of the post-game meal at Cracker Barrel, and reminding each other to stop by the hospital on their way home.
Ultimately, we got word that Madge was to be released, so everything ended well.
However, I couldn’t help wondering if recounting the excitement of the buzzer-beater finish might trigger further need for medical attention, and if the real winner that night might not be Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
John O. Marlowe spent most of his career as a “pine-time” player, and was football's first DH (dummy holder) for Wabash College in the late 1970's. New to the art of the sports beat writer, Marlowe has spent forty years – and nearly $11,000 – following Indiana high school sports.