By J.D. McKay
Friday night’s game against New Albany was what Indiana high school basketball is supposed to be. A gym that holds 2,500 fans had about 2,600 fans from rival schools, with an atmosphere that reminded long time Highlander fans, including my mom, of past games between Pat Graham and Damon Bailey. Bobby Knight attended the Graham vs Bailey games. Last Friday, it was current Indiana head coach Archie Miller watching New Albany senior Romeo Langford. The Highlanders came out on top by two back then, just as they did Friday, mainly because of an average performance from Langford and an above average performance from senior Luke Gohmann.
Last Wednesday I predicted that to win, we would need to shut Langford down, rebound, and hit three pointers. Langford was stopped. Holding the fifth best player in his class to 15 points is basically shutting him down, and he travel on two of those. Rebounds weren’t much of a problem, and while we hit five threes, the lack of points didn’t seem to matter.
The Bulldogs main threat was senior Sean East. East was hitting shots from all over the court, including hitting a buzzer beater from the volleyball line to end the first half. East had 19 points.
Defense was really the key to success Friday. Only scoring 12 points in the second half obviously makes that important. With junior Cobie Barnes being out in the second half, that task came down to senior Matt Weimer, Gohmann, and senior Evan Nichols. Barnes missing most of the second half probably wasn’t in Coach Todd Sturgeon’s game plan, so those three stepped up well.
Final, in overtime, two guys that hadn’t scored yet, senior Gabe Shireman, and Weimer, stepped up. Shireman went straight to the hole twice to take a 43-47 lead. Then, after four New Albany points, Weimer made a backdoor cut and hit a layup to go up 49-47. After Langford missed a three and the officials called a questionable travel, New Albany had one last chance. Sophomore big man Trey Hourigan missed a three, and time expired.
After a quick handshake line that seemed to take two hours, we stormed the court. After 21 tries, the Highlanders finally beat the Bulldogs. So, I guess you could call that game an Indiana high school basketball classic.