Tag Archives: JD McKay

Boys’ basketball wins sectionals for the first time in 31 years

Photo by Brock Kennedy

Story by J.D. McKay

The streak is finally over. After a blowout 70-33 win over Jennings County tonight in Seymour, the boys are sectional champions.

Senior Grant Gohmann and junior Jake Heidbreder led the team in scoring with 16 each.

Gohmann said, “This is something special. We have seen the failure. and to come out here and play like we did, I mean we didn’t even play them within single digits. That’s something really special. You don’t see that very often, and this is 31 years in the making.

7C1F661C-AB5D-4072-977F-BC87DDFF3733
Senior Seth Burks celebrates after winning the sectional championship 70-33. Photo by Brock Kennedy.

After the first quarter, it seemed like it was destiny for the Highlanders to snap the streak, but it did not start out that way.

“We got great contributions from our sophomores off the bench,” said head coach Todd Sturgeon. “They got off to that lead (11-4 Jennings County), Cole (sophomore Cole Harritt) coming off the bench, now it gets forgotten after we win by 30, but those were two big buckets.”

Harritt said, “I knew we needed to score

when I came in, so as soon as I got the ball I had an open look and just shot it. That kind of got the crowd going and it just took off from there.”

This win was particularly special for the seniors after not playing much in the past two years in these sectional games before finally getting their shot.

95B974CA-8967-4D54-AB13-D0ED84B5F0B7
The team celebrates with the trophy after winning sectionals for the first time in 31 years. Photo by Brock Kennedy.

Senior Ben Purvis said, “We only had one shot at this and we knew we had to make it count. So we got in the gym, put in the work and we got it done.”

“This feels really good, we are excited,” said Sturgeon. “Most happy for this group of seniors. It hasn’t been easy for those guys. They have had their own struggles, whether it was injuries or playing behind the 17 guys in the two classes ahead of them. So they have had to wait their turn and to see those guys rewarded is really satisfying.”

Floyd will be playing Bloomington South Saturday at 12 in Seymour. For more sectional coverage and a preview of regionals, check out next Friday’s print edition of The Bagpiper.

A Baddude’s Journal record-breaking athlete profile: Senior Dalton Lawver

Photo by Grace Allen

Story by J.D. McKay

Senior Dalton Lawver just finished a perfect weekend. He was in four events, the 400-yard freestyle relay, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard butterfly, and 200-yard medley relay. But that was not even his biggest accomplishment this weekend. Lawver broke the school’s 100 backstroke record with a time of 49.02 seconds. 

“I really only had one goal this season,” said Lawver. “That was to break the 100 backstroke record, so now that I did that I can just relax and go hard at state.”

Breaking records is something that typically takes years to work up to; however, that was not the case for Lawver. 

“When I really focused and started was my freshman year, before that I did not really do any swimming,” said Lawver.

Even though he has not been swimming for long, that does not mean he does not work hard.

“My four years of training came down to that moment,” said Lawver. “It was always my goal but the early mornings in the weight room with [strength and conditioning coach Donnie] Gumble or early morning swim practice or the long hours after school, just working hard with my teammates led to breaking the record.”

However, some of the hard work needed came from work in the water, according to Lawver.

He said, “I needed to tighten up my underwaters this year to break the record. You want your underwaters bigger when you dive in and as you start coming towards the surface you make them faster.”

However, just the hard work was not what allowed him to break the record. To be record holders, any athlete must be extremely competitive, and Lawver is no exception. 

“My favorite part of swimming is competing during practice. You are there with your friends and you just start racing and it’s just an absolute blast,” said Lawver. 

Lawver is also potentially doing something that has not been done by a Highlander swimmer since Meg Taylor in 2015, getting on the all-state wall. He comes into state seeded second in the 100 backstroke. The top eight are all-state and, of course, Lawver wants to do that. But being seeded that highly adds some pressure, and Lawver is feeling it a little bit. 

“It makes me very nervous, because there is going to be a lot of competition up there. The Indianapolis kids are very well trained and very hard workers and they are going to go out there trying to break state records, but I am excited to see what happens,” said Lawver. “But hopefully I will be on the podium at the end of the day.”

 

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

E065BA52-C905-4252-B124-586CDEF09C05
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

Fall Sports wrap-up

Photo by Brock Kennedy

Story by J.D. McKay

Well, it snowed yesterday and I still have not written my fall sports wrap-up yet. So, even though football is still playing, it is time. 

Girls’ golf had a successful season as they always do. They won sectionals and got sixth at regionals. Junior Halleigh Cullins won, and senior Sydney Juliot got first and second. Sophomore Sophia Cook also tied for third. Cook led the team at regionals with an 80. This year, they won their eleventh sectional in the past 12 years, and their seventh straight. 

Boys’ and girls’ cross country also continued their success. They both won conference before moving on to the IHSAA post season. There, both teams won sectionals and regionals, before both finishing third at semi-state and 19th at state. The girls’ top runner was Sydney Liddle, who finished 51st. The boys’ top runner was senior Luke Heinemann, who finished 82nd. Throughout the season, they won other big meets like the Tiger Run at St. X. Including the post season, the boys won six races and the girls won six races. 

Boys’ soccer struggled at times this year, but that often is shown when you play strong competition, which the boys did. They play five strong Louisville schools and ended up losing four and tying one. However, at the end of their season they upset Columbus North in sectionals before losing to Columbus East, who lost in semi-state, in the sectional championship. 

The girls’ soccer team went a little further than the boys did. The girls won sectionals this year, as well as winning conference. They won the Hoosier Cup Tournament in early September. Last season, senior Katie Yankey was all-state as a junior. This year, she was injured for most of the year, but senior Audrey Brumfield has a good shot to be all-state. 

Boys’ tennis is another of the three teams to make semi-state. They won conference again, sectionals again, and regionals again. They also had a big win early in the season against North Central. They eventually lost to Columbus North in semi-state.

Volleyball had a slow start to their season but got it rolling as they went along. Several of those games were against good teams like Sacred Heart and Providence. Providence finished the year ranked 24th in the country, and Sacred Heart was ranked fourth in Kentucky. However, as they got some momentum, they won conference, and 13 of their last 15 going into sectionals. They got a tough sectional draw and had to play Providence again. However, they gave the Pioneers a scare by taking the first set, but the Pioneers won the last three. 

The last sport I am coming to is football. Football is still playing after winning sectionals for the first time in 10 years Friday night against Jeff. We are the sixth team to win nine games in a season and have a chance to be the first to get past regionals and third to win 10 in a season. But we also have two losses, one to Columbus East, and one to Louisville Male, who is ranked second in Kentucky and will probably win state in 6A. Friday, the Highlanders are playing at Bloomington South, who is very talented, on the road. If they win, they will be playing semi-state at home.

 

It is time to start seeding sectionals

Photo by Brock Kennedy

Story by J.D. McKay

Of the sports associations I pay attention to — NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA, and IHSAA — IHSAA is probably the most well run. I cannot recall a time where I heard that they laid out a significant ruling on a team for next to nothing like the NCAA just did to Mary Hardin-Baylor, who recently had their 2016 championship revoked because a coach allowed a football player to use his car. 

The IHSAA rule most often criticized is the transfer rule. To explain it in one sentence, if a player wants to transfer the athletic director must sign off that he or she can play at the school they are transferring to. I do not have any problems with this rule. However, I do see three noticeable flaws in the IHSAA. 

One is that not all sports are classed and I already wrote a column about that (read here https://wordpress.com/view/fchsbagpiper.wordpress.com), and the other is that not all deserving athletes can make the state tournament in individual sports (read here https://wordpress.com/view/fchsbagpiper.wordpress.com). The third is that the IHSAA does not seed team sports. 

So, it is possible that next year New Albany and Jeff could be top five or even the top two basketball teams on the state. Then, when sectionals roll around in March, if their ping pong balls roll out first, they could be playing each other on a Tuesday night in Seymour. That would be the most anticlimactic way for a game of that caliber to go down, and I think most of my readers would agree that it should not be that way. 

This year, there was an unlucky draw that affected our volleyball team a little bit. They have Providence, a top 25 volleyball team in the country, in their sectional. Providence should have had one of the byes as well as New Albany, because they beat us in the regular season. Then, we would have probably played Seymour before playing New Albany. However, we got the bye and will be facing the winner of Providence and Jennings County. Had that sectional been seeded, we probably would have gotten another shot at New Albany and maybe one more game for our seniors. 

Supporters of the blind draw would say that sometimes you just need to play with the cards you have been dealt and suck it up. However, if that is the case, some coaches could not play regular season with the intention of winning. If they had a really good team that had almost no depth, they could play their studs for a quarter, then put in the JV to avoid injuring the stars until the postseason. I am not saying I view it like this, but in the right situation it might make sense. 

As I have made clear, the solution to this is seeding. It makes sense to have the team with the best record against other sectional teams to play the worst team first and to play both games at home. Sectionals where the teams do not play each other could be a problem. However, the tournament makes could compare their records, and records against teams that teams several of the teams in the section have played. If that does not solve the problem, the IHSAA could look at total points scored and points allowed to make their seedings. 

There are a few situations where it would not make sense to just give home field to the top team, though. For example, it makes sense to play basketball sectionals at Seymour because they have one of the biggest high school gyms in the world. Those could be decided by the IHSAA and, if needed, the teams in the sectional.

Some times, the ball does role in your favor and fixes seeding on its own. Football was 3-0 in the regular season against three sectional teams that are all pretty good. So, FC gets the team with the worst record, Bedford at home and the winner of Jeff versus New Albany at home. Plus, Jeff beat New Albany in the regular season, so it makes sense that they have home field advantage against the Dogs. It should make for an interesting November at Ron Weigleb Stadium. 

And, while I am mentioning football sectionals, come out and support the Highlanders on Nov. 1 against Bedford.