Rob Hunt: Turning the Page
Mar. 16—After a second basketball season ended in the heartbreak of a last-second defeat in the postseason, it felt like a time to collect some thoughts on the boys hoops season as well as some warm hopes for the spring.
The Liberty Christian Lions suffered a tough two-point regional championship loss that left the players and coaches both speechless and teary-eyed. It was difficult to stomach, not just because of how close the final outcome was, but it was a game LC had in its control before letting it slip away in the final minute.
Much like the Lapel girls after a one-point loss in the state finals, the Lions were left wondering what could have been or what play could have been made at some point earlier in the game that could have switched the outcome.
The answer is always the same.
Never in the history of sports has a game been decided by one play, one call, or one missed shot. There is always a collection of moments during the competition that, if it had been reversed, the loser would have become the winner. In fact, add those moments up and the loser wins by a lot.
But that's not how it played out.
Despite the heartache they felt in the aftermath of that loss, the Lions need to keep their heads held high. That's especially true for a group of seniors that won back-to-back sectional titles to end a five-year drought for the school.
So that's the end of basketball for 2022-23 in the area.
Time to look ahead to different sounds, different venues and some excitement to be had as the Hoosier State continues to thaw.
The sound of squeaking sneakers will be replaced by the glorious ping of ball meeting bat, that almost silent thud of a well-struck golf ball, the crescendo of a crowd as the runners make the final turn for home and the whack of a racquet on a tennis ball.
It may take a couple weeks before the temperatures are consistently in that perfect comfort range — it is Indiana, after all — but spring is here, and there is much to look forward to.
We can start with the known commodities.
State track finalists Tremayne Brown of Anderson, Ava Jarrell of Pendleton Heights and Tanner Brooks from Madison-Grant are back and should contend to return. But watch out for Arabians Whitney Warfel, Will Coggins and Andrew Blake, Zoe Allen from Anderson, Skylar Drake and Sydney Duncan of Frankton, Noah Price from LC, Cameron Smith of Lapel, Connor Etchison from Alexandria and Jayden Reese of Elwood.
As usual, the area's softball talent is deep and widespread. The Argylls and Arabians return plenty of key players from last year's semistate run and Butler-commit Makena Alexander returns to anchor the sectional-champion Frankton Eagles once again. Look for Elwood, Shenandoah, Lapel and Daleville to challenge this year while Alexandria, Anderson and Liberty Christian take steps to improve.
On the golf links, the season seems to start where it left off with Pendleton Heights trying to repeat as Madison County champs and Shenandoah pushing to get through its sectional as a group. The entire Arabians team returns, and the Raiders have most of their talent back as well.
Dominant players Jamison Geoffreys and Abby Cruser have graduated, leaving a lot of questions about the upcoming tennis season. But one constant seems to remain, and that is the depth of Alexandria keeping it on top in terms of area teams. Kerith Renihan will lead an experienced group of Lapel netters that will challenge the Tigers in both the county and sectional this season.
On the baseball diamond, Anderson is a defending sectional champ and has many of the pieces in place to repeat in a really tough group. Keep an eye on a Pendleton Heights team that will be deep and wants to reclaim its Madison County and sectional champion status. Shenandoah has been close the last two years, and this could be the season it breaks through at sectional, while Lapel, Frankton and Madison-Grant will also be in the county and sectional mix. Two proud programs — Alexandria and Daleville — have struggled of late, but both are more experienced this time around and should be very much improved.
All of this is to say there is enough returning talent to be really excited about the spring season, but maybe the best part are the surprises we'll see during this magnificent two-month sprint to the postseason.
Let the pings begin.
Contact Rob Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-640-4886.