What a 2017
The list of sports talk and debate shows seems to grow and grow.
Be it on television or radio, ramblings and opinions about topics can range from who’s the greatest quarterback? Jordan or LeBron? Replay in baseball?
One topic that won’t need much debate is stating 2017 may have been the best year ever for high school sports in our coverage area.
There were multiple state qualifiers individually along with teams that reached the state finals in their respective class. The cream of the crop was, undoubtedly, the Lanesville baseball team bringing home Harrison County’s first state championship in a team sport.
Hopefully 2017 didn’t pass by with you missing out on the excitement these young men and women brought their teams, schools and communities.
Looking around while covering the postseason runs of local teams, one can see the pride supporters and community members bring forth for the next generation.
There were hugs after the 18th hole and after standing atop the podium at the conclusion of a record-breaking swim. Only those in attendance at the girls’ basketball regional in Charlestown can keep the memory of the largest group karaoke sing-along I’ve heard at a high school game, sans the national anthem.
Pick an overpass on Interstate 64 and hang a banner declaring the 2017 sports season the best for the area.
Here is a look back at some of the big moments (many featured in the collage of photos below) from the area; let’s not waste anytime and jump to the state champions:
A five-run fifth inning ” RBIs from Evan Peele, Michell Bailey and Cameron Harvey ” was plenty of scoring as Lanesville defeated Rossville in June to hoist the school’s first state championship in any sport. Harvey tossed a complete game, a 5-1 victory on the hill.
The path to the state championship in Class 1A baseball saw the Eagles never trail in the postseason, finishing off a 20-6 record. Lanesville’s closest tournament game came in the sectional championship (1-0 vs. Borden).
The spring was a busy time of year for the purple and white.
Two games in 2017 can be filed away in the ‘shock and awe’ category with one going to the Lanesville softball. The Lady Eagles, similar to many softball programs in Indiana, had struggled with defeating Borden, the 2016 1A state champions.
Playing on its home field, Lanesville pulled off what many figured to be impossible. The Lady Eagles shocked the softball community with a 3-2 win over Borden for a sectional championship.
Lanesville didn’t stop there, as the Lady Eagles shut out Orleans 8-0 for a regional title then took eventual state champ Tecumseh to the wire, falling 2-1 in the semi-state semi-final.
There are few times in my career where my jaw and camera fell at the same time. One of those moments came on a cold and wet Oct. 27 night in Ramsey.
How North Harrison football managed to come back and beat Batesville in poor weather conditions in the 3A sectional semi-final still rocks my head. An unbelievable pass from Avery Blocker and catch and extra effort from Skyler Wetzel for a game-winning touchdown was simply amazing.
It was a stellar season for the North Harrison program, which went 9-0 in the regular season for the second time in three seasons.
On the hardwood, the North Harrison girls’ basketball team was dominant on its way to a second consecutive trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
In the six tournament games leading to the final, the Lady Cats won all by double-digit margins. Celebrations were had in Jeffersonville again when North Harrison rolled Danville 65-43 for a semi-state championship. At state, North Harrison was runner-up, falling to South Bend St. Joseph 57-49. North Harrison guard Cali Nolot went on to play with the Indiana Junior All-stars during the summer.
Now, due to the success factor, the North Harrison Lady Cats will see how they stack against 4A competition come the end of January.
Kudos also to the Crawford County boys’ basketball program, which knocked off Providence in the sectional to ride the momentum to a 2A state runner-up trophy.
Others also making bids to state in their respective sports included Gracie Saulman, representing Corydon Central swimming for the second straight year. North Harrison’s Hallie Hinton pulled off a unique feat, not only going to state in basketball, but also in girls’ golf. Keeping with the tee box and greens, Corydon Central’s Joey Wiseman was the Providence Regional medalist, winning a playoff to make his first state bid.
Corydon Central’s Marcie Stewart showed her advancement in cross country, becoming the first girls’ runner to compete at the state final. She set records on the track for the Lady Panthers as well.
South Central girls’ basketball won its ninth sectional title in February, defeating Lanesville 56-40. The Lady Rebels finished with an 18-8 record.
At North Harrison, girls’ tennis player Payton Fravel won an individual sectional championship and later finished as a regional runner-up.
Also in the spring, North Harrison’s Ben Waynescott cleared 6 feet, 6 inches in the high jump at the Evansville Regional to earn a spot at state.
Crawford County’s Ty Nickelson and Haylea Crandall also went to state in the high jump with Crandall winning regional and placing third at state.