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Emerson: Thank you for a very memorable Winter season

I really haven’t felt the need to write my first column until now. As it stands today I’ve been the Sports Editor here at the Journal Review now for eight months. Hard to believe that it’s already been that long.

The purpose of this first column from me is a simple thank you as we have officially wrapped up the winter sports season. I wanted to take some time to highlight some of my favorite moments from this past winter as it was my first full season of getting to be at the helm of covering all of the great athletes and teams we have here in Montgomery County.

So without further ado let the thank you’s begin.

Thank you Campbell Twins

In a sport that gets heavily overlooked in girls wrestling, North Montgomery’s Catie and Cailin Campbell have dominated on the mat. This Winter the twins capped off their wrestling in grand style as both of them defended their state titles in Kokomo at the Indiana Girls Wrestling State Finals. The twins end their high school wrestling careers each with three state titles, and Catie added to her stellar resume by winning the Crawfordsville sectional title at 120 lbs.

The legacy that the Campbell twins have left at North Montgomery includes each of them being a three-time state champion and helping the Charger girls wrestling program being ranked No. 1 in the state for a brief time this year. Their success on the mat has led to both of them signing to continue their careers with Grand View University which is a nationally ranked program.

Wrestling continues to be one of the strongest sports in the area and the Campbell twins have been a big part of the reason why. Getting to see two sisters win state titles and the support and love they have for one another was truly something special to watch.

Thank you Crawfordsville and Southmont Boys Basketball

Two county rivals having both stellar seasons is something that was something special to watch this winter. First off a tip of the cap to Crawfordsville and David Pierce. The Athenians coming into this season had lost both Ty Lynas and Jesse Hall. That duo combined to score 37.3 of Crawfordsville’s 68.1 points per game.

What did Pierce and the Athenians do? Just casually go 17-6 and they did it by gritting their teeth and grinding out hard fought wins. It wasn’t always pretty, but Crawfordsville more often than not came out on top. It was more of a defensive effort for CHS as they held opponents to just 47.7 points a contest.

There was no star player for the Athenians as it was collective group effort on both ends. Ian Hensley was the do-it-all type player and leader but other players like Ziair Morgan, Alex Kellerman, Mekhi Wallace, Alex Hernandez, Cale Coursey, and Gavin Kenny all had their moments where they shined as well. While CHS loses six seniors, their junior varsity just happened to go 20-1 so I’d say the Athenians will be just fine.

Now we shift to the Mounties. I don’t think a coach in our area has deserved the success that his team had this past year more than Jake Turner.

Southmont just kept making more history and the records and accolades speak for themselves. Southmont won a program record 19 games this past season, they captured their first Sagamore Conference title in school history, they earned county bragging rights by defeating both CHS and North Montgomery, and the cherry on top of it all was winning their first sectional title in school history. The sectional crown came by defeating the two other favorites in North Putnam and Parke Heritage.

Seeing Turner (who doesn’t smile often by the way) not being able to take the smile off of his face and celebrate with his team after the sectional championship even put a smile on my face.

Oh yeah and there’s the time where both Billy R and myself got bombarded by the entire Mountie team after they defeated Frankfort to capture the SAC title. That was a pretty cool moment too.

Thank you North Montgomery Girls Basketball (A special thank you to Katie Rice)

While we’re on the topic of deserving their success, that also is the case for North Montgomery girls basketball. Coach Ryan Nuppnau and this year’s senior class for the Chargers finally broke through and in a big way. The Chargers ended the year 12-10, a winning record for the first time since the 2012-13 season and the first under Nuppnau.

Led by Hadley Broadwater, Lydia Dugard, Madi Welch, and Katie Rice along with the contribution of freshman standout Piper Ramey, the Chargers also were able to finish in the top half of the Sagamore Conference with only the three powerhouses of Lebanon, Danville, and Tri-West ahead of them.

Also I want to give a special thank you to Katie Rice. The Charger senior finally was able to show everyone what she could do this past year as she averaged 15.5 points per game and 10 rebounds. Unfortunately a concussion forced Rice to miss the final five games of the season including the sectional loss to county rival Crawfordsville.

I did a feature on Rice as she wanted to let people know what she has battled juvenile arthritis throughout her entire career. The story itself tells a lot about Rice and how she wasn’t going to let that stop her from playing basketball. She wanted to let people know no matter what you might be going through, that you can overcome it and still be able to enjoy the things you love in life.

Thank you Wabash Basketball

Wow. That’s all I need to say about the season that the Little Giants had on the basketball court. Wabash saw their historic season come to an end in the NCAA Division III Final Four over the weekend and what a run it was.

Wabash captured their first North Coast Athletic Conference title in school history in a thrilling 85-84 OT win. The Little Giants rode that momentum into the tournament where they knocked off four nationally ranked teams to get to the Final Four. This season also featured a 24-game winning streak and an overall record of 28-4, both the best in school history.

I might be a little biased, but Jack Davidson in my mind was the best player in D3 this year. Just look at these insane numbers (courtesy of the wonderful Brent Harris). Davidson averaged 25.5 points over 32 games to rank third in the nation in scoring this season. He leads all of Division III in total points scored with 817 to break the Wabash single-season scoring record. He also leads the nation in total three-point field goals made with 123 to break another Wabash single-season mark, in free throws made with 210, and in total minutes played at 1,126:16. He ranks second in three-point field goal shooting (48.4 percent), third in three-point field goals per game (3.84), and fourth in total field goals made (242). He’s the best basketball player I’ve had the privilege of watching plain and simple.

I have to give another shutout to Tyler Watson. During interviews and press conferences, he speaks better than most professional athletes do. I’m not over exaggerating that whatsoever. His poise and professionalism in unmatched.

To Davidson, Watson, Kellen Schreiber, Jack Hegwood, and most of all coach Kyle Brumett, thank you for letting be just a small part in your historic season that will live on forever at Wabash College.

Thank you Macee Williams

Not only was I blessed to cover one historic college basketball team this season, Macee Williams and the IUPUI Lady Jaguars allowed me the chance to cover two. The Fountain Central graduate came back to the Jags for one last shot at playing in the NCAA Tournament, and boy did that decision pay off.

Williams and the Jags won their second Horizon League title, but this time COVID wasn’t going to stop them from playing in the tournament.

The path along the way was a challenging yet very rewarding for the Jags. In their first game of the season, they took Michigan to OT and lost 67-62. That game set the tone for the rest of the season. Unfortunately just nine days later due to protocols set forth by the Horizon League, IUPUI would have to forfeit their first two conference games due to COVID-19. Fast forward to Dec. 21 in Iowa City, IA and the Jags would pull off the biggest win in program history with a 74-73 win over No. 15 Iowa who would go on to the win the Big 10 title. The Jags along the way to their first NCAA Tournament appearance would win 14 straight games and end with an overall record of 24-7 (technically 24-5, but whose counting right).

Williams would go on to win her fourth straight Horizon League player of the year while averaging 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. She holds the top spot in Jags history in both scoring and rebounding and Coach Parkinson has routinely called her not only the greatest player in IUPUI history, but also the greatest player to ever come through the Horizon League.

Williams has dreams of playing in the WNBA and this past season did nothing but improve her chances. It’s been one fun journey for the Veedersburg native and the journey may not be done. I’m just glad I was able to watch and cover her in what was her final ride.

These are just some of the many highlights of what was fantastic winter season for us at the Journal Review. I’ll give one last thank you to all of our readers, twitter followers and those who read what I’m fortunate enough to write about.

On to the spring!

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