Tuesday, April 12, 2011

State champs receive awards

By Rex Kirts

South won the state basketball championship as a team, and all who played were honored by word or trophy at the season-ending banquet Sunday.
Also, all were treated to an extremely well done, comprehensive poem of praise by Martha Holmes, wife of coach J.R. Holmes.
Senior Darwin "Dee" Davis, Jr. came way with a ton of hardware, including the B-Man award voted on by the players. Davis and senior Spencer Turner were the Captains.
Davis leaves with two state championship rings, as does Turner. Both were named to the all-Conference Indiana team this year.
Career-wise, Davis is No. 1 on the South list in assists with 417, No. 2 in 2-point field goal percentage at 61 per cent and the No. 3 scorer with 1,306 points. Counting his freshman year at North, Davis has 471 assists and is the No. 3 career scorer in Monroe County with 1,582 points.
In all of Holmes' 29 years of coaching at South he's never had anyone win the season 2-point field gial percentage award, the 3-point percentage award and the total percentage award, but Davis did it this year. He hit 59 per cent on 2s, 41 per cent on 3s and 52 per cent on all shots.
In addition to his shooting, Davis led in scoring with 606 points (21.6 average) assists with 159 and steals with 67.
Turner led in free throw percentage this season with 85 per cent and finished high in three career categories. Heis No. 3 all-time in free throw percentage at 85, No. 4in scoring with 1,234 points and No. 5 in 3-point percentage at 42.
Turner also owns one other distinction: having the lighting system changed in the gym because of him. He liked to come in early before school and shoot, and early in his career he depended on Holmes, who also gets to school early, to turn on the lights in the gym. Instead of always having to do this, Holmes installed an automatic system in which the lights come on by the motion of people walking in the gym.
Senior Desmond Marks won the rebounding award with 176 and the blocked shot award with 16.
The Sixth Man award was shared by senior Alex Forney and juniors Michael Bower and Trae Washington. The Defensive award was shared by seniors Joey Forney and Ben Stowell. The Mental Attitude award selected by Holmes was shared by seniors Alex Forney, Gabe Hull and Aaron Binford.
Joey Forney won a blanket for winning eight letters in his career, getting them in football and baseball besides basketball.
It was another historic year for the Panthers, who went 26-0 two years ago to win the state champioonship, becoming only the 12th team to go unbeaten.
This year's team was 26-2, the past four years South is 94-5. The seniors finished 48-0 at home for their varsity careers, and the Panthers won 53 straight regular season games until losing in the Hall of Fame Classic to Center Grove in double overtime. They later reversed that loss with a win over Center Grove in the regular season.
It was a senior team with eight seniors and a veteran staff led by Holmes, who was in his 41st year of coaching overall.
The Panthers won their fourth straight Conference Indiana championship and had a great tournament run that included a win over highly regarded Indianapolis North Central in the semistate. They beat Kokomo in the championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
In addition to seniors Davis, Turner, Marks, Stowell, Joey Forney, Alex Forney, Hull and Binford and juniors Bower and Washington, varsity members included Dustin Utley and Kyle Dugan.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Panther notes, after the championship

By Rex Kirts

Good things happen to teams after winning the state basketball championship in Indiana.
The 2008-09 South championship team was honored by the state legislature with a visit to the State House in Indianapolis. The same thing will happen to the 2010-11 Panther champions. The visit is set up for Monday.
Also on the agenda for coach J.R. Holmes' team is a visit to elementary schools which feed into South. That is being arranged.
Other notes: During post-game festivities in 2009, Holmes gave his state championship medal to his father, Cocky. This year, J.R. gave medals to his brother, Mike, and son, Jon. J.R. has a medal, too, but he had to buy it. The IHSAA permits schools to buy extra medals . . . On the Monday after Saturday's victory over Kokomo, Panthers Spencer Turner, Aaron Binford, Trae Washington, Michael Bower, Kyle Dugan, Aareone McCoy, Keaton Hendricks and Isaiah Gooch decided they hadn't had enough basketball and were in the gym shooting.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Davis IBCA all-state, Turner honorable mention

Point guard Davis has been named all-state by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Wingman Spencer Turner is honorable mention. The IBCA is the first all-state out.

Monday, March 28, 2011

At South, it's a team production

By Rex Kirts

Ben Stowell and Desmond Marks carved their niche in South basketball history Saturday, together with state champion teammates Dee Davis, Spencer Turner and Joey Forney.
They joined Trae Washington and Michael Bower and Alex Forney from this team and David Blackwell and Jake Mulinix and Marcus Etnier from the 2009 state champions to prove, again, that basketball is a team game.
They proved it takes more than the usual statistical leaders to win championships, that role players and bench players are absolutely vital to success.
It's a team game, and that includes coaches, too. In this case, head coach J.R. Holmes and assistants Criss Beyers, Kyle Simpson, Aaron Parker, Doug Waltz, Heath Howington and Matt Seifers.
THE 56-42 CLASS 4A state title win over Kokomo represented a masterful artwork of offensive balance, and defensive prowess, for the Panthers, who finished the year with a 26-2 record. The scoring totals are 14 for Marks, 13 for Davis, 11 for Stowell, 10 for Turner and 6 for Joey Forney. Davis and Turner have been the main 1-2 scoring punch all season. This is the first time for Marks to lead the scoring, and it was necessary because Kokomo was pushing the Panther 3-point shooters far away from the basket, so his inside presence was needed.
Marks, as he has done most of the season, led the rebounding with eight. He simply came up big and strong all the way around. He was a man inside.
"We played as a team," Marks said. "We did all during the tournament. We came together and won some games."
Kokomo gave Marks little respect inside, concentrating its defense on the perimeter. "I had to be as aggressive as possible in order to help the team," Marks said. "Dee told me after the first possession to take it to the basket because the middle was open."
Marks, Holmes said, got the Panthers started. Prior to him hitting a couple of shots the Panthers were missing from the outside.
All year Stowell has drawn the defensive assignment on the opponents' best guard, and he has done a commendable job handling things. Against Kokomo, he latched onto 16-point scorer D.J. Balentine like a bulldog and never took his teeth out. Balentine was completely out of synch and scored just eight points, making just 3 of 14 shots.
HOLMES SAID probably the biggest key to victory was Stowell's defense on Balentine, along with Marks' getting the Panthers started offensively." We wanted to deny Balentine completely and make the other guys shoot it," Holmes said.
Instead of focusing on himself, Stowell labeled it a team win. "I can't take credit for the win," Stowell said. "We've been playing together since the second grade or before. You couldn't ask for a better group of guys to be with."
But you did do OK on defense, didn't you, Ben? "I did a pretty good job of denying him the ball. I think I got into his head and got frustrated."
And, Stowell added of winning the state championship, "This is one of the coolest things I'll ever do."
Not just Stowell individually but South's defense from a team standpoint was well planned and executed, too. Kokomo hit just .293 overall and made only 1 of 16 3-point shots. South had trouble with Kokomo's defense, also, hitting .429, but the Panthers made 15 of 20 free throws to partially offset the troubles hitting from out.
All week long the Panthers practiced its blocking out on rebounding, but they couldn't contain the quick-jumping Wildkats the first half and ended up being out-rebounded, 36-30, for the game.
Rebounding was about all Kokomo could do right offensively in the first half, however. South led 22-18 at halftime, and nearly all Kokomo's points came on offensive rebounds.
Holmes saw too many wild shots at the start and too much board dominance by Kokomo early.
THE PANTHERS REGROUPED the second half, however, but by game's end Holmes said he "was glad to get the game over." The feeling was no doubt enhanced by South being on top.
Davis is the straw that stirs the drink for South, and he showed some typically brilliant moves against Kokomo. He had some trouble hitting the basket in the first half, but he picked it up and was available for hero work at crunch time.
"I had too much energy the first half. I was more relaxed in the second half. I hit the 3 to start the second half, and that started me off. I was ready," Davis said. "But it was a team effort.
" Asked how this title compared to the one in 2009, Davis said, "This year is my senior class. Des did a terrific job, and Stowell has been waiting for this his whole life. Ben has been waiting on this all week. He locked Balentine up."
Davis finished as the third-leading scorer in Monroe County boys' history with 1,582 points.
Turner, who concluded his high school career with 1,234 points, capped his evening by winning the Trester award, which is the prestigious award given by the IHSAA for mental attitude, grades and citizenship.
"Unbelievable," Turner said of it all. "These are the greatest kids and the best coaching staff in the state. I'm just honored."
Turner said the key to winning was South's overall defense and Stowell shutting down Balentine.
TURNER HIT a couple of 3s in the first half, and Davis, Forney and Stowell knocked down big 3s in the second half. "It was tough because their defense was so tight on us," Turner said.
Forney, as always, battled hard inside and found it tough to get much done there. "It was a rough night for me," Forney said. "After I realized I wasn't getting the calls I wanted I kicked it back out."
The 3 Forney swished in the second half was a welcome one. "I had a good feeling on the 3 when it left my hand," he said.
The Panthers won because "we had a will to win," Forney said. "We've been playing together so long and wanted it. We wanted it more than the other team."
The victory validates the success of the program under the 29-year leadership of Holmes. The Panthers have the best winning percentage in the state the last 17 years, and their 94-5 record of the past four years qualifies South for dynasty consideration.
"I don't think that's ever been done before," Holmes said of 94-5. "And two state championships."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Panthers ready for championship game

By Rex Kirts

"We're ready to play," South coach J.R. Holmes proclaimed after Thursday's practice. "We'd just rather have the bigger trophy," one that matches the trophy from winning the state championship two years ago.
The Panthers practiced well this week and are ready to take on Kokomo in Saturday's class 4A state title game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The game will start about 8:30 p.m. It was a little later than that in 2009 when the Panthers completed a 26-0 season in the state title win over Fort Wayne Snider. The start of the 4A game was delayed because the class 3A title game went two overtimes.
South is 25-2 and fresh off a confidence-building win over Indianapolis North Central in the semistate. Kokomo is 23-2 and savoring late game-winning shots in ther regional and semistate.
Assistant coach Aaron Parker said Kokomo is "every bit as good as any team we've played all year. We're going to have to play well."
PARKER IS CONFIDENT the Panthers, with five senior starters, will do that. "Our kids just have a different look in their eye. Determination, I guess."
Determination and, Holmes believes, an advantage of being in the championship game just two years ago. Point guard Dee Davis and wingman Spencer Turner started in that game, and other Panthers were there as spectators. Davis was the game's MVP.
Davis has backed up the MVP with a senior season averaging 21.9 points, 5.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game. He's headed to Xavier on a college Division I scholarship.
Turner has a Division I scholarship, too, to Belmont. He's averaging 16.3 points per game, is second in rebounding at 4.9 and tied with guard Ben Stowell in assists at 2.3.
The other starters are forward Joey Forney with a 9.5 scoring average, Stowell at 8.4 and center Desmond Marks at 7o.7. Marks leads the team in rebounding at 6.2 and Forney, who has a baseball scholarship to Xavier, third in rebounding at 4.3.
"I LIKE THE WAY we practiced this week," assistant coach Kyle Simpson said. "It's been pretty intense. I liked our focus, especially coming off the win over North Central. We ought to be (focused) - we're all seniors."
At the Kiwanis banquet Wednesday in Indianapolis, where all the state teams are honored, Holmes said this team of seniors wanted to get through the regular season and get to the tournament. They've had good effort all season, he noted, but the focus has been better after a sub-par game in the sectional against North.
All in all, however, Holmes said the Panthers have been pretty good.
Long-time assistant coach Criss Beyers has a good feeling about the team's prospects.
"I think we're ready to play," Beyers said. "I think it will be a good game. They (Kokomo) are well coached and athletic. They're a great offensive rebounding team.
"I like where we're at, though. I like the way we've practiced. If we play like we're capable of I like our chances."
SOUTH BEAT KOKOMO in a summer tournament, so each team has a working knowledge of the other.
"We can't give up offensive rebounds," Parker said. "They score half their points on offensive rebounds. They get five guys going to the basket."
Parker said the Wildkats "look every bit as quick as North Central. They're a team that knows their roles and not a man steps out of it. They understand what it takes to win."
Kokomo does a lot of things defensively. Offensively, it is led by junior point guard B.J. Balentine, the only Wildkat averaging in double figure scoring at 16.2.
"Everything goes through Balentine," Holmes said. "They're streak shooters. What they do is rebound it - they really crash the boards."
THE PANTHERS got a preview of a good rebounding team last week. They blocked out well and beat North Central on the boards, 32-25.
North Central didn't have many opportunities at rebounds, though, since South shot 59 per cent from the field.
Against Kokomo, Holmes said, "We'll have to handle their pressure, handle their man-to-man and keep them off the boards. We've got to attack their defense."
South's pre-game ticket sale was about 2,700. Single session tickets should be available at the gate for $15.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Panthers ready to get after it

By Rex Kirts

The preparation is finished and the preliminaries disposed of. South's basketball players are ready for the main attraction.
Ring the bell, come to the center and, once again, bring your toughness.
One of the great venues for high school basketball in the country, the Indiana state championship, is ready to crown a new king. It will be South (25-2), the unbeaten champion just two years ago, or Kokomo (23-2).
They meet Saturday about 8:30 p.m. in the class 4A title game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where coach J.R. Holmes' Panthers defeated Fort Wayne Snider in the finals in 2009.
SOUTH STARTS FIVE SENIORS and is coming off a big semistate victory over Indianapolis North Central, a win which undeniably boosted their confidence aplenty.
"Ready to go," smiled center Desmond Marks, a first-year starter along with guard Ben Stowell. Forward Joey Forney is starting for the second year, and wingman Spencer Turner and point guard Dee Davis are four-year starters.
They are part of a program that is 93-5 the last four years and 48-0 at home on the J.R. Holmes court.
"We're looking pretty good," Stowell said of his outlook for the big game.
"Ready to go," said Turner, never at a loss for words. "The whole team is ready to go."
"I'm just excited about being on the floor," Forney said. "Two years ago I didn't dress. I'm just hoping we play well and get a win out of it."
Davis was the MVP of the championship game in 2009, but by Wednesday of this week he hadn't gotten round to serious contemplation of the matchup with Kokomo.
"I HAVEN'T thought much about," Davis said after a hard practice. "His thoughts had mostly concerned the week's practices.
Of 2009, Davis recalled being "really nervous before the game. But I knew what my job was, and that calmed me down.
"During the game I didn't get tired. I had a lot of energy, never got winded. Afterward, there was just the celebration."
"I remember everything (about the 2009 game) like it was yesterday," Davis said. "Having (Jake) Mulinix and (David) Blackwell coming through (two average free throw shooters who each hit two clutch free throws at crunch time).
THIS WEEK THE PANTHERS' FOCUS has been on Kokomo and not on last week's very satisfying win over North Central. But they admitted getting a confidence boost from beating the Indy school.
"I think it did, definitely," Davis said. "We have a lot of heart on this team."
Heart and toughness and coaching and talent and chemistry and basketball savvy. Just look at where those things have taken South, not just this year but for many years now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Holmes says Kokomo 'like us'

By Rex Kirts

Kokomo coach Brian McCauley said. "We have some really good basketball players."
South coach said the same thing in a different way. "They're a lot like us. They all can play, and everybody guards you."
The South coaches also compared Kokomo favorably to Fort Wayne Snider, whom South beat in a struggle for the 2009 state championship.
So it sort of looks like Saturday's class 4A state basketball championship game could be a tight one. South comes in at 25-2, Kokomo's Wildkats at 23-2.
These teams actually know quite a bit about each other because they met in a tournament at Carmel in the summer. South won when it held Kokomo scoreless in the fourth quarter.
"It was a struggle," Holmes said.
THE PANTHERS played without Joey Forney in that summer game, and Kokomo was without a forward, too, 6-3 senior Parker Salinas, who averages 7.7 to Forney's 9.5.
Kokomo features junior point guard D.J. Balentine, who averages 16.2 points per game. He's the only scorer in double figures, but six others average at least 6.5, giving the Kats real good
offensive balance.
Kokomo has good average size and is similar to Indianapolis North Central in that it scores a lot of points on offensive rebounds.
The Wildkats have shown they can win with any style. Against a pretty good schedule they were scoring a lot early in the season. Opponents have slowed the ball against them in the regional and semistate, and they handled that, too. They have clutch players, also, with two different players hitting late game-winners in the regional and semistate finals.
"We're playing really well right now," said McCauley, 32, in his fifth year with a 72-41 record.
"I'M PLEASED with our defense and our offensive execution. We beat a very good Munster team (Munster had been undefeated) in the semistate. We defended well and made plays on offense when we had to."
South had met several great point guards this season, and Balentine is another.
"He's extremely skilled," McCauley said. "He's a good passer and good shooter, a good combination. He has outstanding hands on defense.
"Balentine draws a lot of attention, so that opens things up for the other players. We wouldn't be here if we didn't have others. We have outstanding balance."
TICKETS AND TRAFFIC: Tickets are on sale at South. They are $15 for the two games at night and $25 for all four games at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis (South and Kokomo will play about 8:30 p.m.).
South fans are urged to avoid taking highway 37 all the way to I465, where there can be a bad traffic backup because of road construction. Instead, take Southport Road or Epler Road and go east to highway 31. Go north and it takes you right to Conseco.
KOKOMO NOTES: The Wildkats are in the finals for the first time in 50 years, since winning its only title in 1961 . . . They have won more sectionals than any other school, 71. Lafayette Jeff and Vincennes are second with 68 . . . McCauley's second cousin is David Cooke, the American Idol winner in 2008.
OTHER NOTES: The only previouis meeting between Bloomington and Kokomo teams was in the 1919 state tourney quarterfinals, with Bloomington winning, 23-14, on the way to the states championship . . . Bloomington and Kokomo are among the 15 charter members of the IHSAA in 1903. The others are Anderson, Alexandria, Eaton, Fairmont, Goshen, Huntington, Indianapolis Manual Training, Indianapolis Shortridge, Marion, Noblesville, North Manchester, Salem and Wabash.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

South 'bit their toenails off,' will play for state title again

By Rex Kirts

When former South coach Bill Springer, now in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, really liked the toughness of a team, he would say, "They'd bite your toenails off."
Saturday night in the class 4A semistate at Southport, the Panthers (25-2) bit the toenails off Indianapolis North Central, 76-66.
Now they'll be playing for the state championship for the second time in three years (they won in 2009), taking on Kokomo (23-2) Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
They'll be doing because J.R. Holmes, the Panther coach of 29 years, knows a lot about how to make teams tough and how to set them up for a ball game. He had to toughen the Panthers up after a lacklustre sectional performance against Bloomington North, and he had to change some things to counter North Central's physical superiority in speed.
SOUTH'S PLAYERS listened, learned and executed. North Central had numerous outstanding individuals, but South had a little more in the team department and enough toughness to win.
And the Panthers aren't too bad individually, either.
They have the remarkable Dee Davis, who scored a career high 31 points, including 20 in the first half as he dazzled NC's defenders with moves around the hoop. Davis hit 12 of his 16 shots to lead a team that shot 59 per cent for the game. He also had four rebounds.
They have the resilient Spencer Turner, who scored 21 of his 24 points in the second half. He made a living at the free throw line, going 12 of 13 for the game and 7 of 8 in the fourth quarter. Frustrated by NC's expected tight defense, he kept working and got free to drain a couple of 3-point baskets in the second half. He pulled down six rebounds, too.
The Panthers also have Joey Forney, who takes some lickings and keeps on ticking. He had six points and seven rebounds this night.
THEY HAVE Ben Stowell, who scored eight points, and Desmond Marks, who had three points and four rebounds and didn't play nearly as much as usual because he had the flu recently.
They have sub Michael Bower, who played a lot in place of Marks and had four points and five rebounds.
"Dee did what Dee does," Holmes said. "Dee was good at the start, and Spencer was good as the game went along. And we got some baskets from Stowell, Bower, Forney.
"Our kids showed some moxie. We planned on going at them, challenging them. We came here as men and are leaving as men."
Speaking of his 20-point first half, Davis said he "was just trying to help my team win. I felt like I had to turn my game up." That took some doing because NC was pounding on him pretty good and guarding him with fresh players.
"We had a lot of energy," Davis said. "We knew we needed only one more to make the show. We wanted to be aggressive, get them in foul trouble.
"I don't think this is a surprise. We just came in prepared. We didn't get to play them last year."
South's defeat in the regional last year left it one game short of playing North Central in the semistate. North Central went on to win state.
TURNER, WHO went hard to the basket more than usual, said he didn't start feeling good about the Panthers' chances to win until "there was about two minutes remaining, once they started fouling more."
The Panthers won, Turner said, because it had heart. "The hustle plays, all the loose balls. Switching to the zone helped us a lot."
North Central came in with a couple of big regional wins and had to feel good about itself, with a potent and fast-moving offense. Forney said South's win was not a surprise, though.
"We felt like we could compete with them. We rebounded well. We had a lot of turnovers but handled the ball at the right time and hit our free throws (21 of 25)."
Stowell said, "Pretty awesome," of the victory. "It's well deserved for all these guys. When everyone knows his role and executes, good things happen. We knew we had to play as a team."
THE KEY, MARKS SAID, "was being tougher than them. This shows we can play with anybody." Another key was keeping NC off the boards, Marks said. North Central got some putbacks but also missed a bunch of them.
"We knew Johnson and Smith would get their points, so we had to keep them (the others) off the boards."
Bower said South won because of "the discipline part of it. North Central was on the court arguing with each other.
"We knew all week we could play with them. It was not a matter of being scared or intimidated." South had a lot of trouble taking care of the ball, turning it over 22 times to 11 for North Central (22-3), but made up for some of that by out-rebounding NC, 32-25.
It was North Central's great ability to cause turnovers that forced Holmes to alter his offense slightly. He wanted the Panthers to attack NC straight ahead and not go east-west with the ball. He also cut down on the number of sets the Panthers run. The strategy succeeded in drawing a lot of fouls, and three NC starters fouled out.
DEFENSIVELY, SOUTH started with man-to-man, but the second half saw a lot of zones, including some 2-3, some triangle-and-two on NC stars D'Valuntes Smith-Rivera and Ronnie Johnson, some box-and-one. Most of the first half, North Central was out of synch offensively but stayed close, South leading 34-32, by capitalizing on turnovers.
When the clock reached zero and South was ahead, it was the culmination of a good plan coming together.
The third quarter is a good example of South doing what it needed to do to win. North Central rallied to take the lead a couple of times, but each time South took NC's best shot and counter-attacked. It was gladiators at their finest.
With 1:06 left in the quarter, Turner hit a 3-pointer for a 52-49 lead, and South led the rest of the way.
SIBLING NOTE: South assistant coach Kyle Simpson had a few mixed feelings afterward. "It's hard when my brother Jeremy is on the losing side," Kyle said. His brother is a freshman coach at North Central.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Overcoming North Central's quickness a must

By Rex Kirts

North Central's quickness on defense concerns J.R. Holmes the most.
Well, its offensive firepower isn'tbad, either. So is the way it attacks the offensive boards.
And . . . in other words, NC has a lot of weapons to throw at South in Saturday's semistate.
But, as Holmes said, "We're not bad."
South (24-2), the team with the best winning percentage in the state the last 16 years, is in the semistaste for the fourth time in the last six years. North Central (22-2) is the defending state champ. On paper, it's another good Hoosier Hysteria matchup.
Two years ago South beat Franklin Central in the semistate on the way to a 26-0 state championship. Three years ago South lost to North Central and the dynamic Eric Gordon, who scored 21 points in the first quarter to lead the Indy school to victory.
WHEN THE TEAMS clash at 3:30 p.m. at Southport High School, North Central will again feature outstanding perimeter players. Prior to Gordon last year, guard Jason Gardner helped beat a great South team in overtime in 1999. This year, NC is led by guards D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Ronnie Johnson.
Smith-Rivera scored 37 points in the regional championship game. In the first game of the regional against Pike, he didn't play, but Johnson took over and keyed the win with 25 points, 21 in the sescond half. Smith-Rivera didn't play because he threw a punch in the sectional, and the IHSAA suspended him for a game.
"North Central is unbelievably athletic," Holmes said. "They put so much pressure on you."
To stay competitive, Holmes said, his club will have to rebound defensively, stop the fast break and beat the pressure.
North Central has been beaten by Pike and Lawrence North. Pike hit the basket very well, and LN's 7-foot center dominated inside.
South can hit the basket, too. In the regional it shot 52 and 53 per cent in wins over New Albany and Castle. The Panthers rebounded well, but NC's Panthers are better on the boards than New Albany and Castle.
"We'll have to shoot the ball really well," Holmes said. "Joey (Forney) and Desmond (Marks) will have to get some baskets inside.
"WE'VE GOT TO BEAT their run-and-jump (defense). Spencer (Turner) can't get too frustrated."
North Central has done a good job defensively on taking away the best offensive players of the opposition. Holmes expects NC to be all over Turner and try to deny his outside shots.
"They're the best defensive team we've seen," Holmes added. "Their quickness concerns me. Transition defense is important, and defensive rebounding."
South, of course, hasn't gotten to 24-2 without weapons of its own. It starts five seniors, two of whom, Dee Davis and Spencer Turner, started on the state championship team in 2009. Davis was MVP in the title game win over Fort Wayne Snider.
Davis is a concern for any defense. He's an outstanding penetrator and hits the 3-point shot at 42 per cent. His averages are 21.6 points and 5.6 assists.
Turner is a long-ball theat averaging 16.1.
DAVIS AND TURNER get solid help from Forney (9.7), Ben Stowell (8.5) and Marks (7.8). Forney and Marks dominated the boards in the regional, and Forney was very effective defensively against Castle's big man, holding him to 14 points under his average.
South's bench also played an important role in the regional. Juniors Trae Washington and Michael Bower and senior Alex Forney contributed key minutes.
The winner advances to the state finals at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis next Saturday. It will play the winner of the Munster-Kokomo semistate for the championship.
PANTHER NOTES: Forney has had an impressive defensive season. He held three college Division I players, Jeremy Hollowell of Lawrence North, Hanner Perea of LaPorte LaLumiere and Alex Stutz of Castle, to 5, 4 and 8 points . . . South's crowd at the regional ins Seymour was twice Castle's at night. As of Friday just before noon South had sold about 940 tickets to the semistate, and that's with many students away for spring break.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can't do what South has done without bench help

By Rex Kirts

Alex Forney, Michael Bower and Trae Washington are the latest examples in what has become a major force in South basketball.
That's outstanding contributions from players off the bench.
Without it the Panthers probably wouldn't have gone undefeated and won the state championship two years ago. David Blackwell, Marcus Etnier and Jake Mulinix were absolutely essential in getting the team to the finals and then beating Fort Wayne Snider in the title game.
The relief job of Bower and Washington was the key in the Panthers' regional title game win over Castle last Saturday. When Dee Davis went to the bench in the third quarter with four fouls, Washington, Bower and Ben Stowell hit shots to not only stop Castle's momentum but extend the lead from six points to 12 going into the fourth quarter.
WITH THAT CUSHION, the Panthers dominated the fourth quarter and won by 19 points.
Sitting the bench requires patience. It also requires concentration on the action because the subs are expected to know what's required when they're called.
But in the case of this year's team, which is 24-2 going in the semistate Saturday against North Central, the subs understand why they are sitting. And it's OK.
"When we're winning, the kids in front of us are better, so it's not so hard," said Forney, a senior who's prized for his understanding of how to play the game.
Forney and juniors Washington and Bower go hard in practice, and they do it knowing their game minutes will probably be limited. None of them feel cheated, though, none feel that practicing hard should guarantee game minutes.
"I might as well do the best Ican," Forney said. He pushes those ahead of him. "But they're not worried about me taking their job. They're better offensively."
At the start of the season Bower, the starting quarterback in football, knew he'd be a sub in basketball, and he never flinched at the prospect.
"I SAID TO COACH HOLMES I didn't care as long as I can help the team. I can try to bring energy, and that's fun."
Bower brings a ton of energy. He's non-stop and bats away lots of balls and gets loose balls and rebounds. He's also strong on defense.
"Since I was growing up in sports I was told to go as hard as I can," Bower said. "Get every loose ball, every rebound, try to play defense as best as I can.
"I always loved watching Marcus (Etnier) when he played with Matthew (Bower's older brother). Marcus was kind of my mentor my freshman year in football. So I've learned a lot from him.
"In practice you just go as hard as you can. If you're not going to play many minutes you can still make the team better."
The main purpose of Washington, a multi-purpose football player, is to take over the point when Davis comes out. Davis, a Mr. Basketball candidate, doesn't come out much.
"IT WOULD BE HARDER (sitting the bench) if I wasn't behind Dee," Washington said. "He is creative on the go. Guarding him in practice youi think you've seen everything, but you see something you've never seen before. It's rough guarding him."
Obviously, sitting the bench hasn't created chemistry problems with the trio.
"We've been around each other a long time," Washington said. "We're always smiling and laughing. It's awesome.
"Coach Holmes always makes us work hard, but we have a lot of fun. It's great. It's the most fun I've had playing basketball in a while."
The Panthers struggled in the sectional opener against North, and that was a wakeup call for them. Practices became more intense during regional week, and the Panthers played tough in the wins over New Albany and Castle.
"WE WEREN'T RELAXED sectional week," Forney said. "We were just relieved to get it over with. We thought teams might try slow-downs against us, but in the regional, we knew teams were going to play us straight up."
They know North Central (22-2) will come at them hard and with great speed.
"North Central is obviously talented," Bower said. "We've just got to go out there and play our game, focus and do what we've been doing."
South has been in the semistate four of the last six years. Saturday's class 4A game will start about 3:35 p.m. at Southport High School in Indianapolis.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Semistate tickets on sale now

Tickets for Saturday's class 4A semistate at Southport are on sale at South now. The $7 tickets are on sale Tuesday in the main office from 12-3 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 8-11 a.m., 12-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m.-12 noon.
South will play Indianapolis North Central about 3:30 p.m. The class 1A semistate between North Daviess and Indianapolis Metropolitan starts at 1 p.m., so fans attending the South game will find parking a problem.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Panthers define 'team effort,' in Final Four again

By Rex Kirts

In a crisis situation, juniors Trae Washington and Michael Bower hustled off the bench and saved South's season Saturday.
Leader Dee Davis went to the bench with four fouls late in the third quarter. The Panthers' lead had shrunk to six in the regional championship game against Castle. It was a perilous time for the Purple.
Washington, Bower and Ben Stowell calmed the fear, however, and because each scored in the final minutes of the quarter South's lead rocketed back up to 12 by the end of the period.
It was the key moment in what became a 68-49 win and helped send South (24-2) to the Final Four for the fourth time in the last six years.
THERE WAS ANOTHER singular key moment in the game, Spencer Turner's 60-foot basket to end the half. Castle had crept back to within four points, but Turner's launch returned momentum to South heading into the second half with a 37-30 lead.
Castle put up a stiff fight until very late. The Panthers had no such challenge from New Albany in the morning game, being dismantled, 53-37, as 25-point scorer Davis got great board help from Joey Forney and Desmond Marks.
Davis said, that while he would rather have been on the court, he was "excited" about seeing Washington, Bower and Stowell contribute in a big way at a crucial time.
"I was thinking I didn't need to go back in if they kept playing that way," Davis grinned. "I was happy to be a cheerleader.
"This (winning the regional) was a great experience. I've been here before, but I'm happy. This does not get old."
Davis started on the Panther team two years ago that went undefeated and won the state championship. He was MVP of the state finals game as a sophomore.
TURNER SAID his 60-foot basket to end the half against Castle was "all God" and felt the Panthers played well. He appreciated the production off the bench, too.
"Trae came in and played tremendous," Turner said. "It's tough, with a lot of pressure. He hit that pull-up jumper with five seconds left in the third quarter. And Bower got numerous rebounds and that layup."
Washington said, "We knew we had to make plays" with Davis sidelined. "Michael stepped, and Ben.
"I just tried to make up a fourth of what Dee does because he's too tough to replace."
Bower thought the whole thing was awesome.
"We just tried to do what our role is, what the coaches say," Bower said. "So awesome."
Stowell, who finished with nine points against Castle, said, "We just tried to fill the void of the guy who runs the show."
Marks had 10 rebounds and nine points against Castle.
"We won. It's a good feeling,"Marks smiled. "Trae stepped up, and Bower. And Stowell is unconscious most of the time (with his shooting). They did exactly what we needed them to do."
SOUTH JUMPED OUT to quick leads and kept up the pressure by scoring quickly at the start of the other quarters in both games. The Panthers played with the lead all day. They rebounded well and played outstanding defense throughout.
Solid, solid, solid.
Individually, Davis continued to prove why he's one of the best basketball players ever from Bloomington, scoring 25 and 18 points. Turner threw in some long, long 3s and scored 17 in the title game.
But it was the team thing that will remain in memory for a long time.
"Somebody else has to step up besides the two big guns (Davis and Turner)," Panther coach J.R. Holmes said. "This morning we had 19 rebounds from Des and Joey, and tonight Trae, Bower and Ben stepped up. Everybody had a contribution to it."
And, like most Holmes-coached teams, there is resiliency and scrappiness, to go along with great ball movement and people movement.
Castle turned up the defensive pressure late with a trapping defense. Davis, the primary ball handler, was on the bench. The Panthers had some trouble at first but and adapted and prevailed.
"THERE WAS SOME TOUGHNESS down the stretch, once we got organized against their trap," Holmes said. "It was a good effort for us."
Another key to the win over Castle (22-3) was the defensive strategy. Instead of the strong, 6-5 Marks taking on 6-8 Eric Stutz, it was surprising to see the 6-4 Forney on him.
"We did that because Stutz goes out on the floor. He's a good 3-point shooter,"Holmes said. So Forney, who is more mobile than Marks but still strong, got the job.
"I was pretty nervous," Forney said of his assignment. "He has a lot of skills, and in warmups he was hitting 3s from the volleyball line. I just tried to contain him."
Stutz averages 22 points, but Forney and friends held him to eight before Stutz fouled out. Forney scored nine points.
Defensively, South had a great day, limiting New Albany to 31 per cent shooting and Castle 44.
The Panthers will take on Indianapolis North Central (22-2) in the semistate Saturday about 3 p.m. at Southport High School in Indianapolis.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beyers moving up to varsity assistant

By Rex Kirts

Criss Beyers is moving up the corporate ladder, and taking a pay cut.
The veteran of three decades of coaching basketball at South, Beyers has spent much of that time as the JV coach. Starting next year, he'll be a varsity assistant under J.R. Holmes and take a small pay cut in the process.
"It's time for one of the younger guys to coach the JVs," Beyers said.
The younger guys on the staff are Aaron Parker, Kyle Simpson, Matt Seifers and Doug Waltz with the vasrsity-JV and Heath Howington and David Alexander with the freshmen. Parker and Simpson have been around for more than 10 years, as has Waltz, and Seifers played for Holmes.
SOUTH'S VARSITY has the best winning percentage in the state the last 16 years. The JVs have been strong, too, and continued that success with the varsity.
Like Holmes, who will be in his 30th year as the Panther head man next year, Beyers is demanding. His teaching style is direct, and it gets results.
Beyers' No. 1 highlight as JV coach came his first year, when the team went 17-3. That was also his first year coaching with Holmes.
"That team had Billy Beggs, Brad Jackson, David Archer, Randy Perine, and Steve McDay played some," Beyers said.
"Probably the No. 2 highlight was when we beat Lawrence North when both of us were undefeated," he added.
Also, the Panther reserves won 43 straight games in the mid-1990s, with two straight unbeaten seasons.
BEYERS LIKED THE WAY this year's team finished up. It started 5-5 but won its last nine to wind up 14-5. "We had eight freshmen and four sophomores this year," he said.
Of course, the biggest overall highlight of Beyers' coaching career at South came when the Panthers won the state championship in 2009. Also ranking high was their first sectional in the Holmes' era in 1985.
Another highlight came during his five-year tenure as the head girls' coach. That was the sectional championship in 1994-95 by the Erica Henrich-led team.
Beyers has done a lot in his career. Besides work with the boys' and girls' basketball teams, he coached golf and is a major force in state AAU basketball. He runs the Addidas AAU Classic in Bloomington and the big Addidas AAU tourney in Indianapolis.
"The Indianapolis tourney is one of the premier tourneys in the country," Beyers said. "Last summer we had over 400 college coaches there and 221 teams."
South is Beyers' primary focus, obviously, and he enjoys the opportunities.
"THE BEST THING here at Bloomington South is that J.R. lets you coach," Beyers said. "And coaching with him on the varsity he really wants and listens to your output. I couldn't be at a better situation."
Beyers graduated from North in 1975 and Indiana University in 1982. He had worked at several jobs, including once as the Community Corrections director.
But what he's done mostly is coach, and coach well.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

All agree, team play is the key

By Rex Kirts

Everyone agreed, team play is the best way.
Team play had gone into hibernation in recent weeks, reaching lows the past two games. It resurfaced in Saturday's sectional championship game against Columbus East, and the Panthers were sharp all around on their home court in a 66-34 win.
Now the Panthers (22-2), winners of three straight sectionals, travel to Seymour Saturday to play New Albany (16-7) at 10 a.m. in the first game of the regional. Terre Haute North (18-7) plays Castle (21-2) in the second game.
South beat New Albany, 65-39, in the season opener at New Albany. But New Albany was a young team without its best player, Chris Whitehead, who is back now and playing well.
BEATING NEW ALBANY this time will require another team effort like the Panthers had in the opener and in the sectional title game, like they had most of this season until the recent slump.
After scraping by North in the first game of the sectional Friday, coach J.R. Holmes had a long private chat with is ball club. Holmes rarely has long talks after games.
"That was the maddest I've ever seen him," senior center Desmond Marks said after cutting down the nets Saturday night. "We were told we had to play better as a team."
The Panthers listened and then did as they were told. Against East they shot 50 per cent from the field, 70 per cent at the free throw line, won the boards by a whopping 33-13, committed just 11 turnovers to 20 for East, had a bunch of assists and limited East to 36 per cent shooting.
Senior wingman Spencer Turner started hot, stayed hot and destroyed East in the first half. He hit five 3-point shots and scored 19 points in the first half, outscoring East by himself (South led 34-15).
"We played so well as a team," Turner said. "Dee (Davis) and Des and Ben (Stowell) were finding me. It's so much better to come outand get a team win.
"DEE IS THE BEST POINT GUARD in the state. He had a flip pass back to me and a screen on the same play!"
Davis was all over the place, with 14 points, three rebounds, six assists and five steals. Sort of a typical all-sports package for the senior.
With the 14 points (in only seven shots) Davis moved into fifth place ahead of Chris Lawson on the all-time Monroe County scoring list. He has 1,495 points and trails Garrett Butcher (1,820), Sean May (1,664), Jon Holmes (1,536) and Duany Duany (1,532).
"We did a great job," Davis said among numerous well-wishers. "We came out with a lot of energy and had great support from the fans. We closed it out right.
"We played more like a team tonight. Spencer came out hot, and we found him. We had a lot of defensive pressure."
Senior forward Joey Forney had a solid game, with six points and five rebounds.
"It helps when you have great players like Dee and Spencer," Forney said. He did a good job of letting the game come to him.
"THE DIFFERENCE from last night," Forney said, "was we just shared the ball and were running our sets, being patient and finding the shot we wanted."
"We played as a team," Marks said. He played fewer minutes than the others because he picked up two fouls in the first minute of the game and his third later on in the first quarter. Michael Bower and Alex Forney did some good things in relief of Marks, who had four points.
Senior guard Ben Stowell scored six points and came up with some loose balls.
"It was a good game to be able to bounce back as a team," Stowell said. "We didn't have much flow last night.
"We all seemed to be pretty tired after the first quarter. Then we didn't seem to hit anything."
Holmes had to be relieved at the finals' performance before another good crowd.
"They did a good job of finding Spencer when he was hot and then Dee when he got hot," Holmes said. "We had good ball movement.
"I thought we defended well and hit some shots. It was a better team effort both offensively and defensively."
HOLMES SAID Davis was getting people involved against East's 1-3-1 zone that had given other teams trouble.
"The difference from Friday was that we played together,"Holmes said. "We found people better, moved the ball better."
Asked about his post-game speech after the North game, Holmes smiled and said, "We had a little talk last night."
And Saturday that translated into another sectional championship.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Shaky win over North sends South into title game

By Rex Kirts

The bottom line in the tournament is to win, to win and keep playing. And that's what South did Friday night against North, 54-46, in the sectional semifinal at South's gym.
The victory sends South (21-2) into Saturday's sectional championship final against Columbus East (9-1), an upset winner over Columbus North, 68-53, in the second game Friday.
In the regular season, South beat East, 91-61, at South. But regular season wins don't count for much in the tournament. The Panthers beat North by 31 points, 86-55, in the regular season and were fortunate to win by eight in the sectional. Neither team shot well.
For the second straight game, and third time in four games, the Panthers' play was not as strong as it has been throughout most of the year. They also struggled in the regular season finale at Decatur Central, winning by just two points, and four games ago at Perry Meridian, winning by three.
CLEARLY,SOMETHING is amiss, and coach J.R. Holmes isn't sure what all is involved.
The offense, for sure, is out of synch. It is rare for a Holmes' team to operate without good precision, but this club has hit a snag.
"Mentally we didn't play very smart," Holmes said of the North game. "I was worried the whole ball game (even though South led most of the way). If we got beat, we beat ourselves.
"I don't know why (the Panthers were sluggish on offense). We've been playing that way the last couple of weeks."
Dee Davis took a while to get going, but he ended up doing some typically marvelous things and led all scorers with 21 points, some key offensive rebounds and some assists.
"We didn't move the ball as much as we could, but we worked it out," Davis said. "We didn't have enough movement on offense."
Joey Forney knocked down several free throws and had 14 points. Spencer Turner didn't get as many good looks as usual but wound up with 10 points and a game high 10 rebounds.
"IT'S TOUGH," Turner said. "Most rivalry games are never easy."
The difference between the regular season blowout and Friday, Turner said, was "we didn't play together at all. We didn't run our offense, had some individualism."
The Panthers had a couple of chances of pulling away to a more comfortable win, but North rallied and stayed until about three minutes remained, when South went to the stall with the score 50-43.
One statistic heavily in South's favor was offensive rebounds. The Panthers pulled down several, often in bunches, but had difficulty in capitalizing. It was not a good night for hitting shots, by either team.
SOUTH WAS HELPED down the stretch by North turnovers and missed free throws (8 for 23 at the
line for the game.
It was an emotionally draining game. Asked if they had anything left for Saturday's game, Davis and Turner answered in the affirmative.
"Definitely," Davis said.
"We'll have a lot left. We're ready for a sectional championship," Turner said.
What the Panthers need to remind themselves of is that East, like North, is not the same team it beat badly in the regular season.
PANTHER NOTES: Going into the sectional title game, South has won seven straight games. It has beaten North 11 in a row, and it's home court winning streak now stands at 47. The seniors have never lost a home varsity game . . . South had an overwhelming fan advantage Friday. It looked as if 80 per cent of the big crowd wore purple.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sectional here, and Panthers try to beat North again

By Rex Kirts

On Jan. 7 South hosted North and won a convincing 86-55 regular season victory.
Sure, that counts. It helped South go on to win the Conference Indiana championship and claim its 10th straight win in the city series.
It won't county for nearly as much, however, if the Panthers don't back it up with another victory in Friday's sectional semifinals in the Panther gym.
South has won the last two sectionals and five of the last six.
THE PANTHERS come in having already accomplished a great deal, posting a rare 20 wins in the regular season. They are 20-2 with a six-game winning streak. North is 12-8.
Neither team comes in hot.
South struggled in two of its last three games, barely beating teams with losing records, Perry Meridian and Decatur Central, sandwiched around a significant win over LaPorte LaLumiere. They trailed Decatur by 10 points with four minutes to go before scratching for a 65-63 triumph. North has lost two of its last three, like South coming on the road. The last game was a 71-46 defeat at New Albany.
South starts an all-senior lineup of Dee Davis on the point, Spencer Turner and Ben Stowell on the wings and Joey Forney and Desmond Marks inside.
DAVIS LEADS the team in scoring with a 22-point average and assists and steals. Turner averages 16.4 points, Forney 9.7, Stowell 8.9 and Marks 8.3. Marks is the leading rebounder with a 6.4 average.
First off the bench for coach J.R. Holmes' Panthers are juniors Michael Bower and Trae Washington and senior Alex Forney.
The winner of the city rematch plays for the sectional title Saturday night against the winner of Friday's other semifinals, Columbus North vgersus Columbus East. East upset East Central in the tourney opener Tuesday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Get your tickets, get your sectional tickets!

Tickets for the Bloomington basketball sectional tourney at South are on sale at the schools. Season tickets are $10.
The tournament opens Tuesday, with Columbus East playing East Central. On Friday, South hosts North at 6 p.m., and Columbus North will play the East-East Central winner in the second game. The championship game is Saturday night.
Fans are urged to get their tickets as soon as possible. With South and North playing each other on Friday the gym may be sold out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Four years have gone fast, and well, for Davis

By Rex Kirts

Dee Davis "usually starts laughing" when he watches the tapes of him in action.
It's not the reaction South basketball fans experience. With them it's an amazed look and wonderment at how in the world he makes all those shakes-and-bakes.
"It's just stuff I work on and think about the next time I can use it," he said.
So now we know - he does plan some of that stuff. From the stands it
Dee Davis
all looks like completely unrehearsed moves, reactions from what the defense does, something he was born with.
There's one particular move that brings derisive comments from his teammates.
"When I flop," Davis smiled. That's normally on 3-point shots.
"Spencer, everybody comments. I'm more dramatic with it. I've been voted the best actor of the night," he laughed.
Spencer Turner shouldn't really be giving Davis grief because Turner is pretty substantial with the drama on the flop himself.
WHATEVER MOVES Davis is making, Bloomington basketball fans who haven't seen him should do so soon because his sparkling high school career is just about over. Then it's off to Xavier University in Cincinnati for basketball and studying sports administration.
"Time goes fast," Davis said. "It feels like last year we won state."
It was two years ago, and Davis was voted the Most Valuable Player in unbeaten South's championship game victory over Fort Wayne Snider.
It was not his first MVP award. That came with his nine-year-old baseball team. He is not, however, planning a return to the diamond this spring.
Davis said he's enjoying his senior season "a lot," and it's been his best statistically. He's averaging 22.1 points a game and has moved up to sixth in Monroe County's all-time career scoring list with 1,441 going into Thursday night's regular season finale at Decatur Central.
Leading the county in boys' scoring is Garrett Butcher of Edgewood with 1,820, followed by Sean May of North with 1,664, Jon Holmes of South with 1,536, Duany Duany of North with 1,532 and Chris Lawson of South with 1,481.
ONLY THREE SOUTH players have averaged more than 20 points in a season. Lawson tops the list at 26.6 in 1988-89. Chris Brand averaged 20.6 in 1990-91 and Chris Miskel 20.5 in 1991-92.
"I knew I had to step up the scoring, me and Spencer," Davis said. "J.R. said I had to be more selfish."
Well, selfish isn't exactly what was meant. More aggressive offensively is a better description.
And Davis has accomplished that. Always a great penetrator, he's become more of a 3-point threat this year.
"After the state game J.R. told me I had to shoot better and we'd have a better relationship," Davis laughed. I thought about that when I was shooting 50 per cent at one point this season (he's at 47 now)."
His 3-point improvement didn't just happen, either. It's the result of a great deal of practice in the summer. There's a mechanical device called "the gun," which collects shots and shoots them back out to the shooters. Davis became real familiar with it.
"I USED IT A LOT," he said. "Five hundred to a 1,000 shots every day. Three thousand one day."
Good Lord! Three thousand!
He's been sick lately, so his 3 wasn't falling. No legs. That's OK, Davis just turned to his driving. Last Saturday against LaPorte LaLumiere, which started a 7-foot center and 6-9 forward, he took the ball right at them. Go left, go right, spin and lay the ball up soft as a cotton ball. What a show, way worth more than the price of admission.
And afterwards the 6-foot Davis wanted to know how many rebounds he had (six).
"I was trying to get 10 rebounds. I wanted to go two nights with a double-double," he grinned. He had 13 points and 11 rebounds the night before at Perry Meridian, a Panther win that meant their fourth straight Conference Indiana championship.
Davis started at North as a freshman and transferred to South as a sophomore. Holmes put him into the starting lineup immediately.
"He gave me a lot of structure," Davis said of the veteran Panther coach. "He gave me the chance to run the team, let me make decisions on the court, gave me the freedom."
It's worked out real well.
Two Davis stories:
Story one: Dee took his little sister, Dominique, to South's football game at North last fall. Now, some guys might not feel comfortable taking their little sister to a game like that, but Dee doesn't.
"I don't mind," he said. "She's the coolest person I know."
Story two: The Panthers attended a big IHSAA function last year that celebrated 100 years of Indiana high school basketball. Dee and Turner went up to Oscar Robertson, probably the greatest player in the state's history after leading the 1956 Indianapolis Crispus Attucks team to the state title.
"We asked for his autograph, and he snapped at me and Spencer for asking," Dee said. The Big O walked away without giving his autograph.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Coaching, contributions from everyone beat LaLumiere

By Rex Kirts

There's a reason why J.R. Holmes has won more than 600 games in his career, and it showed Saturday afternoon against LaPorte LaLumiere.
He can coach.
He works awful hard. He prepares his teams well, and they work well together and play hard and smart.
And it helps to have players like Dee Davis, Spencer Turner, Joey Forney, Desmond Marks and Ben Stowell (the all-senior starting lineup), with junior Michael Bower coming off the bench. None have ever lost a varsity game at home.
They ate up basketball factory LaLumiere's tall bunch, 56-48, before a nearly full house that included lots of IU people interested in seeing recruit Hanner Perea.
The Hoosier group didn't see much to be encouraged about because the 6-4 Forney defended the 6-9 Perea out of the gym, holding the Colombian junior to four points.
MARKS WAS ON the other big man, 7-0 junior Obij Aget, and held him to four points.
Junior guard Bobo Drummond came in highly touted, but he didn't accomplish much against the combined defensive effort of Stowell and Davis, hitting just 2 of 11 shots.
South, said LaLumiere coach Alan Huss, was better prepared and better coached and out-toughed his team. South was the more physical team and hustled more, getting most of the loose balls, and committed few turnovers.
LaLumiere, which is not an IHSAA member and recruits players internationally, had won 15 in a row and South came into the game wore out from two weeks of illness and a hard game at Perry Meridian Friday night. The Panthers were totally gassed in the fourth quarter and made some turnovers but hung on.
They actually dominated the game much more than the score indicates. They didn't shoot well (.396), however, so a ton of missed layups kept the margin from being about 20 points.
LaLumiere didn't shoot well, either (.422). Nor was LaLumiere interested in playing a whole lot of defense. In fact, LaLumiere didn't even look too interested in playing the game.
South's defense might have had something to do with LaLumiere's flatness offensively. And the penetrating of the dynamic Davis certainly had something to do with LaLumiere not being effective defensively.
DAVIS, WHOSE outside shooting was off, charged into the long arms of the 7-0 Aget and 6-9 Perea and shot layup after layup to score 16 points. Turner had 18, including several free throws down the stretch.
And look at this remarkable stat: rebounds, South 31-27.
Marks had eight rebounds, Forney and Davis six, Turner five, Stowell four and Bower two. Bower didn't play a lot but made a couple of big plays, including a steal and keeping a ball alive that resulted in a layup for Turner.
A key for the Panthers (19-2) coming in was keeping LaLumiere away from the offensive boards. And they succeeded in limiting the tall visitors to just four offensive rebounds.
"I had fun," Marks said. "I've played them in AAU, so nothing was different.
"I knew I had to keep the 7-footer and Hanner off the boards and keep them from dunking. They got only one dunk, and that came on a fast break."
Forney worked on Perea pretty good.
"I just did the same thing as I did against Hollowell," Forney said. "I got under him and tried to make him uncomfortable."
FORNEY LIMITED Jeremy Hollowell of Lawrence Central to five points and Perea to four. Those are two major college recruits, three and five inches taller than Forney, who got a total of nine points against him. That's a life-long memory.
"I thought our defense was great all night long," Holmes said, speaking not just of Forney but the whole team.
Forney, and the other Panthers, were mystified that LaLumiere didn't get the ball inside more to the big men and mystified at the Lakers' demeanor.
"I think they were kind of star-struck by Indiana basketball and our fans," he said.
In addition to his defense, Forney hit a big 3-point shot and two big free throws in the fourth quarter.
Several of the Panthers have been sick lately, including Davis. He hasn't had his legs, and his 3-point shot isn't falling.
"I'VE HAD THE FLU," Davis said. "Tonight we had a lot of adrenalin at the start."
Davis' attacking the big men off the dribble was highlight stuff, as usual. He was cradling the ball and then getting it over them. "I practice that," he said.
"I played with these guys in AAU," Davis added. "They were just being nice to me and not blocking my shot.
"I think we just came out and played hard. We had a lot of momentum going into this game, after winning the conference." The win at Perry Meridian gave South the Conference Indiana title four straight years, this year sharing it with Franklin Central, which beat Pike on Friday.
Davis, all (listed) 6-feet of him, asked, "How many rebounds did I have?" It was six, after getting 11 at Perry Meridian. That means, despite being sick, he's still hustling.
TURNER SAID the game, "was a lot of fun." It was Senior Night and the last regular season home game of his career, although South will host the sectional.
"It came fast, four years," Turner said. "I haven't lost a game here. I've been so blessed to have the coaching staff I have."
While other Panthers started slowly shooting the ball, Stowell picked up the slack with a couple of 3-balls. Another one who's been battlling the flu, he finished with seven points.
"I thought we didn't play well for a long stretch but kept fighting and hit our shots when we had to," Stowell said. "Other than 4 (No. 4, point guard Aaron Emanuel, the only Laker in double figure scoring with 14 points) they weren't attacking at all."
Holmes felt a key to holding down Perea was keeping him from getting the ball where he could drive and keeping him off the blocks. That countered all the missed Panther layups
HOLMES HAS ENJOYED bringing in, and beating, high profile teams the last three years, Detroit Country Day and Lexington Catholic before LaLumiere. Now he's hoping for the 20th win this year when the Panthers close out the regular season Thursday at Decatur Central.
"It's an opportunity for 20 wins in the regular season. That's huge," Holmes said.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

After years of work, shooting starts with confidence

By Rex Kirts

There's no doubt at all in Spencer Turner's mind that shooting begins with confidence.
But that confidence starts building with a tremendous work ethic that includes a lot of shooting.
Five years ago South coach J.R. Holmes said the best shooter in town might be a kid in middle school named Spencer Turner. At the time, Holmes had a pretty good sophomore shooter named Jordy Hulls, who went on to perform many fine feats and become Mr. Basketball.
Spencer Turner
Turner stepped onto the court at South and became a four-year varsity player and one of the school's best long-range shooters ever, with a ball so high-arching that it silences the gym until it collides with net or iron.
This season season has had some downs as well as ups for Turner, who is shooting 36 per cent on 3s compared to 40 last year, 46 per cent during the state championship year and 43 per cent as a freshman. A lot of the downturn can be traced to just a couple of games, however. Lately the 6-4 senior has been back on target.
"Once you miss three or four it's almost like you've forgot how to hit a shot," said Turner. "The basket gets smaller. But I try to stay positive.
"SHOOTING ALL STARTS with confidence," Turner said. "The guys around me, Dee (Davis) is always picking me up and telling me to shoot the ball. And Joey (Forney). It's all in your head." It's been a positive season for the 6-4 senior and 17-2 Panthers. He's second on the team in scoring to Davis with a career high average of 16 points a game, is second on the team in rebounding to Desmond Marks and second in assists to Davis.
Turner and Davis were the obvious two for opponents to concentrate their defense on this year, but he said he's not being defended differently.
"We saw a lot of triangle-and-2 last year but not much this year. I think we'll see it in the sectional," he said. "When they do that, trailing you and face-guarding you, you almost have to become a screener to get open shots for other guys. You've got to screen hard and screen well.'
If the triangle shows up, that should mean good looks for Ben Stowell, Marks and Forney. All have shown the ability to take advantage of such opportunities.
During the pre-season Holmes said this is one of the toughest schedule he's ever had. That's OK with Turner.
"I DEFINITELY GET UP for some teams more than others," he said. "You've got to get up for someone like Center Grove. I think the stats show I play tougher against better teams."
He slumped in the Hall of Fame loss to Center Grove but bounced back for a 24-point night in the winning rematch meeting last week.
Center Grove is one of the "pothole" games Holmes has highlighted for this season.
"We wanted to fill the potholes on the white board," Turner smiled. The Panthers just finished a three-game homestand with a Conference Indiana win over Columbus North, the rematch win over Center Grove and a victory over a talented Warren Central team.
This weekend is a challenge, too. They can win the conference championship Friday at Perry Meridian and on Saturday afternoon host LaPorte LaLumiere and IU recruit Hanner Perea.
Few players enjoy practice as much as Turner, and he likes to joke around. But he's totally serious at game time.
And he's still waiting to see what happens when everyone hits their stride at the same time.
"I don't think we've reached our peak yet," he said.