Category Archives: Basketball

Girls’ basketball plays Jeff tonight in Sectionals

Photo by Brooke Miller

Story by J.D. McKay

For the first time in over two years, my column is not coming out on a Wednesday. But, I wanted to publish it the morning of the first girls’ basketball sectional game. 

For anyone out of the girls’ basketball loop, we have struggled this year. There are three main reasons for that problem. 

One is injuries. It is tough to be really good when your best players cannot play, and one of the Highlanders best players, junior Grace Suer, has been out for nearly the whole season. 

The next kind of goes along with it, youth. When a team loses playes to injuries, they have to play younger players. That is not always a bad thing, but when there is only one senior on the team, it can be tough. The young players have definitely improved, but it is hard to replicate the experience and pressure an experienced player is used to. 

The last problem is height. For some reason, just about every small school that we play had at least one girl over 6’ 1”. Some, like Providence, had three. We have freshman Callie Jo Celichowski, who is a sixth or seventh player on the bench who has played a decent role this year. Then our other post player is Laney Siewert, who is about 5’ 7”.

Anyway, we have had a tough season, but the regular season does not really matter come sectionals. Tonight, they have a chance against Jeff, who they lost to earlier this year. However, Jeff lost their best player, senior Nan Garcia, to a season-ending injury, so things could be different. As usual, I will be giving my three keys to success to get the job done. 

Hit shots: This one is kind of obvious, but we need shots to fall. Anyone who has been to the last months of games can confirm that at times it has seemed like there has been a lid

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Sophomore Kendall Brown and freshman Mandy Hess discuss the upcoming defensive series after a time out. Photo by Brock Kennedy

on the basket. One of the team’s best shooters, sophomore Kendall Brown, has been struggling more than most. However, she is a good enough shooter that if she hits a three early to break out of her slump, she could drop 15 points from beyond the arc. Plus, as she pulls more defense towards her, it should open up freshman Mandy Hess, who seems to be the most consistent through this slump. All in all, there are some pretty good shooters on the team, but almost all of them are struggling right now. If one or two can hit some shots early, then it should be a win. 

Lock down post defense: Last Thursday, we lost to Providence. Providence had the best player I have watched the whole year in senior Natalie Boesing. She played more aggressively than usual and she was their main post player. The team did a pretty good job of stopping her. Unfortunately, she still had over 20 points but somewhere between 10 and 15 of those were free throws. Very few post players get to the line like that in girls’ basketball, so if they can keep Jeff’s post players at 4-6 points points, they should be able to win. 

Defensive rebound: If I remember correctly, many of Jeff’s points from earlier this year came from offensive rebounds and put backs. So If we can keep them off the offensive glass, that will be good. However, if they do get offensive boards, making their big men kick it out will have a big impact as well. 

Bottom Line: As I said above, the ladies have struggled this year. However, they have shown flashes late in the year of what they could do. If they get shots to drop, they would be pretty dangerous in sectionals. An eventual matchup against Bedford will be tough, but if shots start dropping, anything can happen. However, they have to get there first, but I am taking the Highlanders to get through at least one round in sectionals. Final Score: FC 45- Jeff 38

Unexpected NBA death shifts basketball history

Art by Scarlett Hatton

Story by Jadon Stoner

No introduction needed. Every news channel and social media platform is filled with the reports of the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Devastating. Horrendous. Heartbreaking. These are just a few of the words that swirled around the minds of millions of people throughout the world over the past 24 hours. Turn on ESPN, NBA network, or really any sports or news related TV channel and you will see interviews and quotes of various teammates, coaches, and media members. Dig a little below the surface, however, and you will discover that people who never even met this man have been inspired and transformed by the motivational stories of hard work and dedication of the great Kobe Bryant.

Kobe was a basketball legend; we all know that. Five-time NBA champion. Two-time Finals MVP. Voted the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2008. Eighteen-time all star. Over 33,000 points scored. The list of Bryant’s career accolades goes on and on. His undeniable desire to win and his willingness to sacrifice anything to achieve greatness is something we can all strive to embody. But the story of the Black Mamba goes much deeper than the bright lights of L.A. This particular story starts thousands of miles away from the beautiful coastline of Southern California in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Kobe was the youngest of three children. His father, Joe Bryant, played in the NBA until Kobe was six years old. After retiring from the NBA, Joe Bryant moved him and his family to Rieti,Italy to play lower level professional basketball. Growing up, young Kobe would watch his father play and watch tapes of NBA games his grandfather would video and send to him in the mail. From this, the love of basketball sparked in Kobe and drove him through his whole career. In 1991, the family moved back to Philly and the next year enrolled Kobe in Lower Merion High School: the place where his basketball career began.

Bryant started playing varsity as a freshman and won Pennsylvania Basketball Player of the Year as a junior. He led the team to a state championship in the 1995-96 season and was receiving offers from big time colleges like Duke, North Carolina, and Villanova. After seeing Kevin Garnett taken 5th overall in the NBA draft out of high school the previous year, however, Kobe decided to go straight to the NBA. He was taken 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, who traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers later that night. Now, over 20 years later, and Kobe is looked at as one of the best to ever pick up a basketball.

This is a very sad time for the game of basketball and for anyone who was influenced by his greatness. It is natural to mourn in moments like these and think back to all the historical and monumental moments in his career. But I encourage all those who, like myself, missed a heartbeat when the news was confirmed, to not feel grieved or bitter, but to rather reflect on his astonishing and awe-inspiring career and try to implement part of who he was into our own lives. He was only here 41 years, and he gave it everything he had in everything he did. He lived life to the fullest, and his sudden and abrupt death is a reminder to all of us of how precious life is. Kobe’s legacy will live on forever on the court and in businesses and classrooms across the world. I think it’s safe to say there will never be another Kobe Bryant ever again. One man. One mission. One hero. One Mamba.

 

High school basketball is better without a shot clock

Photo by Matthew Bolus

Story by J.D. McKay

Well, our most recent loss came in a way that is expected to happen maybe once every couple of years– on a buzzer beater. However, if you have been at FC over the past two years, you know we have gotten the short end of the stick several times at the buzzer. We have lost six games over the past two years, and four of them have been at the buzzer. Earlier this season, head coach Todd Sturgeon told the News and Tribune he had been beaten on one buzzer beater in all 20 of his years coaching, up until last season.

Following the game Friday, there were frustrated Floyd fans calling for a shot clock in high school basketball. Jeff dribbled the ball out for the last minute, and even with senior Ben Purvis’s and Sturgeon’s smart play, Jeff still hit a pretty lucky shot at the buzzer. However, wanting a shot clock in high school basketball would completely change the game and make it much worse for viewers. 

Reason 1: It changes the classic parts of the game

I know this is one of my weakest reasons and the classic parts of the game are being changed in many sports like baseball. But, as Hoosiers, we should appreciate basketball as it is meant to be played. That does not mean we cannot enjoy the NBA style of no defense and crazy dunks, but we need to look back at the past and when basketball was growing into what it has become in Indiana. Milan High School, the team the movie Hoosiers was based on, held the ball for almost four minutes in their state championship game in 1954. 

Reason 2: It is logistically more complicated

The first part of having a shot clock is buying a shot clock. That can cost between 10 and 25 thousand dollars. In a generation where sports are becoming less and less valued, some small schools with bad teams could find it more worthwhile to just drop their programs and move on than to buy and install the equipment needed. Then, if it is installed, someone has to work it. In high school sports, if something can go wrong in the booth, it will. They will inevitably forget about either the shot clock or game clock. In football there is a play clock that is set at the start of each play. To start it, the person in the booth can basically just look at the official and start it when told. However, it is quite often done wrong and it is much similar than a shot clock. Plus, while we are talking about officials, at the high school level they are generally pretty bad. So even if they had some signal to restart the shot clock, their is no guarantee they would always signal it. 

Reason 3: It would reduce anticipation in the last minute

Not having a shot clock at the end of the game would make the last minute much more anti-climatic. If we knew we are guaranteed the ball again, then that possession would have meant less. Obviously we are still hoping they do not score, but it is basically a regular possession because that is what the goal always is. Without the shot clock, you expect when the last shot will be and that minute or so of waiting adds to the excitement. 

Reason 4: It really would not change the game for the better and increase scoring

For some reason, people associate the shot clock with more scoring. It works that way in the NBA, but NBA players are freaks. There are fewer than 100 high school players like that. We played a pretty slow game. We pass the ball around and look for a good shot and rely on having a good defense, which seems to be working pretty well for us. But if we were limited on the time we had the ball, it would result in some bad looks. With junior Jake Heidbreder on the team, they would probably go in pretty consistently, but for other schools without a Heidbreder, they would start scoring fewer points. Plus, with a shot clock, teams with very athletic players like Silver Creek and Jeff would just go to the hole and it would be hard to stop because of their quickness. It would take some terrific coaching (which I think Floyd has if push comes to shove) to not slow down on the offensive end and continue to play well on the defensive end. 

High school basketball in Indiana is a tradition that rivals sports in all other states, and adding the shot clock to the game would lessen the value of the sport. People think that the shot clock would make the game better. But clearly, it would ruin the game and is tough to add to the game.

 

My take on sports over Christmas break

Photo by Brock Kennedy

Story by J.D. McKay

Christmas break has the best sports action of any break, from high school all the way up to the pros. I was also able to get to a wrestling meet, a swim meet, two boys’ basketball games, and two girls’ basketball games. So I’ll give my take from each sport as well as some college and pro sports. 

Swim– Our boys’ and girls swim teams are the best in our area, no question. But things

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Senior Gabe Anderson takes a breath while swimming freestyle against Jeff on Dec. 19. Photo by Brock Kennedy.

get much tougher as we get into the Indianapolis area. Both teams dominated Jeff, the second best team in the area the Thursday before break. Then, two days later, we
performed pretty well again but not better than Brownsburg, an Indianapolis school. However, we should dominate sectionals again before scoring a few points and hopefully getting a couple of athletes on the all-state wall. 

Wrestling-I am going to start this off by saying I do not know much about wrestling.

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Senior Jonathan Kervin prepares to start the next period against Bloomington South on Dec. 17. Photo by Brock Kennedy.

However, I went to the New Albany meet because it was Senior Night and to support my football teammate senior Sean Burk. We were much better than New Albany. They did not even have a wrestler for several weight classes, one of which was Burk’s. I could tell that we had some extremely talented wrestlers in senior Jonathan Kervin, junior Gavinn Alstott, and sophomore J Conway. They all three have a chance to win state and should definitely be all-state; that will be back-to-back all-state seasons for Alstott and Kervin. It is also worth noting that Alstott’s win against New Albany was his 100th as a Highlander. 

Boys’ basketball– The boys’ are better than people were expecting. In fact, they have

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Senior Ben Purvis shoots a three over New Albany on Dec. 13. Photo by Brock Kennedy.

been one of the most underrated teams in the state. They are not as good as Silver Creek, and have a tough matchup against the Dragons in February, but they proved in the game against Bloomington South on Dec. 21 that they can play with some of the best teams in the state. Most people were expecting a 20-point victory for Bloomington South, but after four quarters, the score was tied. Bloomington South eventually won on a buzzer beater. The officials cannot be blamed for the outcome of a game but I really think it is worth mentioning that the officiating was terrible. That game proved that we can play with the best teams. If junior Jake Heidbreder gets rolling, the seniors lead the team through four quarters, and the underclassmen can step-up, we are very dangerous. 

Girls’ basketball– I have a very unusual view on the girls’ basketball team because I

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Sophomore Keegan Kaiser communicates with her teammates against Austin on Jan. 4. Photo by Brock Kennedy.


practice with them several times a week. They are very young and expectations were not very high for them. But, throughout break, they have improved greatly. They have played pretty well at times. But their main problem is that they do not hit shots for about five minutes and dig themselves a hole. If they could be a little more consistent, they could very easily be .500 on the year. The next three years should be good, though, behind junior Grace Suer, who is injured this season and a major loss, sophomore Keegan Kaiser and freshman Mandy Hess. 

 

Now to pro and college sports. I said the Titans would win in the week leading up to the Patriots Titans game. Then it happened. I think it ended the Patriots dynasty because for the first time in 10 years they will not be in the AFC Championship game, and, unless the Patriots get Rob Gronkowski to unretire or add some significant talent, they will not be back next year. They might not even win their division because the Bills look like a very talented and young team. On another note, the Titans will beat the Ravens this week. 

I also decided over Break that Bowl season in the best season. On New Year’s Day, I watched close football games for almost 12 straight hours. If that is not the best day possible, I do not know what is. Anyway, LSU is ridiculous. They thumped Oklahoma in the playoff which I expected. Their QB, Joe Burrow, went off, setting several College Football Playoff records. The second game was closer. Clemson won on a TD late in the fourth quarter and then a pick to seal it with under a minute left in Ohio State’s endzone. The championship is Monday and even though I am rooting for Clemson, I am taking LSU in a closed game. 

My other take from college football is that the SEC is the best conference. The SEC was 7-2 in bowl games and 7 SEC teams on LSU’s schedule played LSU closer than the best team in the Big 12, Oklahoma. It would not be a tough to argue looking back that Florida, Georgia, and maybe even Alabama should have been in over Oklahoma. I would go as far to say that a two loss SEC team should be in over a 1 loss team from any of the other Power 5 conferences. 

My biggest take from break is that officiating is becoming a huge issue. Several of the meaningful close games over break had a significant seemingly bad call as a talking point following it. Again, the Saints got the short end of the stick with playoff officiating, which should be talked for a while this off season. The biggest game that officiating was talked about was the Ohio State-Clemson game. I believe both questionable calls were correct, but in a game that close any calls that could be debated will be viewed as wrong by the losing team’s fans. I also say that you cannot blame a loss on the officials, which is true for the Ohio State game as well. 

My final take is on the NFL overtime rule. It is ridiculous. No other sport do you see a team score and their opponent not get a chance to match, except for some reason, the NFL. Both teams should get the ball at least once. The Saints lost in overtime because the Vikings won the coin toss and scored to start the extra period. I do not get why the NFL would want it’s most popular and best players to never see the field and lose. I have been saying this since Super Bowl LI in 2017, where the Patriots Tom Brady scored to start overtime without the Falcons Matt Ryan ever seeing the field in overtime.