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LEWIS: Montgomery County Remembers: A record setting boys basketball season

While two of the three boys’ basketball teams have struggled a bit this season it has been a record-setting season nonetheless. Of course, leading the way is Crawfordsville who enters this week’s play with a sparkling 14-5 record and no worse than a piece of the Sagamore Athletic Conference title. The Athenians are a perfect 6-0 in league play with only a date with Danville on Friday left in its SAC schedule. A win by Crawfordsville would give the school its first outright title since the 1972-73 season. If fact, it would be only the school’s second outright title since joining the conference in 1967-68. The team also shared the conference title (with Frankfort and Lebanon all at 4-1) in 1974-75 and in 1986-87 (with Lebanon at 4-1). So this year’s team has accomplished something that either five teams or just two teams have done in the school’s 52 years of belonging to the conference. That’s not too shabby. In fact, it has taken longer for the school to claim a conference title than a sectional title (last won in 2014). Even prior to the 2014 sectional title the last sectional crown was in 1989, still since the last conference title. The school has won six sectional titles since its last outright title. Still more tidbits about Crawfordsville’s season. - The team is 6-0 for the first time in league play. - It is going for a 7-0 record in the first time. - It has only finished the conference season undefeated twice in 52 years (4-0 in 1967-68 and 5-0 in 1972-73). So who were those players who made up that 1986-87 championship team? Those players were: John Jones, Matt Petty, Chad Fiedler, Kevin Gallagher, Mike Heinhold, Chris Arvin, Tony Bean, Sam Lashley, Jason Gould and Troy Noard. Gary Lester coached the team. That team went 16-6. The only conference loss came at the hands of Western Boone In triple overtime 37-35. Seven of the 10 varsity players were seniors. Jones led the team in scoring with a 16.4 average, while Petty added 13.3 and Fiedler averaged 11.5 points a game. The team came up just short in the quest for a sectional title losing to McCutcheon 47-44 after beating North Montgomery 57-41 in the first round. If the Athenians manage to win and go undefeated, they will join the 1972-73 team as outright and undefeated conference champions. Who can name those players? A little bit tougher but I bet some avid fans like Steve Baldwin or Mike Shubert will know. In case you need your memory jogged, the players on that team were: Clint Dennison, Randy Ragsdale, Mark Hesser, Dennis McDonald, Tim Elmore, Sam Shelton, Chris Kaitson, Al Plunkett John Schetzsle, Jon Arvin, Curt Stevens and Bill VanHook. Paul Curtis coached the team. The team won all five conference games by eight or more points with the exception of a 61-60 win over Carmel. The team ended with a 20-5 record - the last 20-win team in Montgomery County. The team went on the win the sectional and advanced to the final game of the regional before losing to Lebanon 69-50 after beating the Tigers 70-62 in the first game of the season. Dennison led the team in scoring with an 18.5 average and Ragsdale averaged 16.8. Hesler was the third starter in double figures with a 12.7 average. In addition to the conference records, the Crawfordsville team has a chance at ending the regular season with 17 wins if it wins out. Should that happen it would mark the most wins in a season since the semistate team from 1978-79 which ended 17-9. A few weeks ago, the three county teams all won conference games on the road. It was the first time all three county teams had won roads games on the same day since Feb. 24, 2017. Then came the question when was the last time the three teams had won away conference games. Our research has not turned up any other single dates where all three county teams won road SAC games. Keep in mind there aren’t a lot of nights where all three teams play conference games on the road the same night. This past weekend Crawfordsville and North Montgomery won SAC games giving the county a five-game winning streak against league teams. Readers, and fellow writer Jeff Nelson (who just tries to come up with a question I can’t answer) asked the question has the county ever won five conference games in a row collectively? That research is taking a really long time but so far I have not found that it has ever happened but we are still searching. Once again, the schedule makes this nearly impossible. I found a couple of times we had a three or four game winning streak but then two of our county teams played each other so we got a win, but a loss as well thus ending the streak. So, there you have it. If you are a history geek then this has been a fun season. If you are not, it has still been a fun season. Barry Lewis has been playing or covering sports in Montgomery County for more than 40 years and enjoys helping to keep our sports heritage alive with his bi-weekly column for the Journal Review.

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