Tourney had positives for all teams


By Bill Barrows

This year’s Wabash County Basketball Tourney had a little bit of a number of positive things. Other than the teams competing at a higher level, the highlight was an individual achievement by a classy youngster, more on that later.

This is the traditional halfway point of the season. Not every team had success, but every program did, in my eyes .... stay with me on this. Only one team from each gender went undefeated and won the title. But each program sparkled in one way or another.

The Northfield Boys, coached by Patrick Hopkins, are a program with youth, injuries and an unfortunate lack of depth. After being mauled by Southwood, they came back, played under control and although they lost to Manchester, they scored 27 points in 4th quarter, led by Joe Halderman and Kyle Reed, setting the tone for the rest of the season.

The Lady Norse, coached by Melissa Allen, methodically took down Southwood and then Wabash to win the Girls tourney title in impressive manner. They are young and on a roll, led by the likes of Kelsie Thomson, Ariel Dale and Ali Keaffaber. They also have depth at the JV level coming and that makes them dangerous.

The Lady Knights of Southwood grew up some under a young excitable coach in Chad West are learning to execute in his system. And along the way are showing some fire led by Erin Lerner and Mekenna Pace. Now they need to convert that into wins.

The Lady Squires of Manchester looked like they were learning under the guidance of Josh Troyer, who was subbing for Jacob Everett. They gained some shot confidence during the tourney led by Sidney Day and Kennedy Fierstos.

Lessons were learned in two very tight games by the Manchester boys, lessons taught by an ultimate teacher and positive influence in Mark Underwood. He has a mixture of veterans in Mason Hamby and Kohle Fluke and underclassmen like Weston Hamby, which bodes well for the Squires.

The Lady Apaches of Wabash are still learning how to weather tough spots during games. Bailey Yoakum, Kylie Stone and Abby Vinopal set the tone, but injuries have taken their toll on Matt Stone’s squad. An infusion of youth will pay off.
The Wabash boys have learned that execution is paramount in an up tempo offense. Paul Wright’s squad, paced by the likes of Logan Vander Veldon, Luke Mattern and Trenton Daughtry are much improved. Their depth, youth and resilience are paying off.

Southwood’s boys team is a culmination of years of dedication of playing from baseline to baseline in an up tempo combo of John Burrus’ offense and defense led by three seniors, Payton Trexler, Matthew Nose and Carson Blair. Trexler and Nose are approaching the 1,000-point goal for their careers.

Blair, who broke the school point record during the championship game held by his dad, may be the most unselfish scorer in this area since 1975 when Kyle Macy of Peru led the state in scoring and assists. Macy also won a national championship at the University of Kentucky.

Oh, and by the way, the Knights won the Wabash County Tourney for the second year in a row .... impressively.

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Posted on 2018 Jan 09