The season outlook looked bleak.
Teams were off to a slow start. COVID-19 was on a rampage, and games were being canceled right and left.
For a period of time it looked unlikely that teams would ever get into a rhythm, be able to stay healthy and out of quarantine. The state tournament even looked to be threatened for a second-straight year.
Yet here we are, the first week of March. Crawfordsville, Fountain Central, and Southmont all played at least 18 of 22 possible regular season games, while North Montgomery played 13. And all four teams are a healthy go for sectional week.
Since I’ve been in this job, I’ve covered numerous sectional champions — but never basketball. And outside of Crawfordsville’s boys in 2018-19, there’s really never been a team that’s threatened. To be honest it’s been a lot of up and down with numerous blowouts outside of the 2018-19 Athenian team.
That was until this year. It’s been a refreshing change of pace.
Crawfordsville has six losses by a combined 42 points, including two in overtime. The Athenians haven’t played in a game that wasn’t entertaining. Southmont secured their first winning season since 2017-18 with an 11-9 mark, and again, played in entertaining and competitive games on a nightly basis. And while Fountain Central and North Montgomery have both struggled at times this season, the improvement the Chargers have shown has been clear — while Fountain Central is 9-12 and enters sectional play with a chance to make some noise.
In early December I sat on the sideline with COVID-19, the Chargers were winless and Southmont had lost three of its first four games. And by Jan. 2 — Crawfordsville had played just four games and was 2-2. Like I said, North Montgomery has improved tremendously, and Crawfordsville and Southmont have made the most of their situations.
Both teams had potential out of the gate, but both had to shake off the previous season’s struggles and a missed summer. They’ve done that, and it’s been incredibly enjoyable to watch.
It will be tough to watch some of these seniors go as seasons come to a close in coming weeks.
Fountain Central’s Carson Eberly has been one of the best competitors I’ve seen in the last few years. North Montgomery’s Logan Kelly can fire up 3’s with the best of them, and Southmont’s Austin Bowman is one of the best dribble-drivers in this area.
And for Crawfordsville — it truly has been an honor to cover a player as special as Jesse Hall over the last three seasons.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it a thousand times. We have some of the best coaches around, and the access I’m given by especially our local basketball coaches allows me to tell these stories.
All in all, I’ve been extremely blessed to cover boys basketball in Montgomery County and I cannot wait for more to come.
Good luck teams!
Jared McMurry was born and raised in Montgomery County and is the Sports Editor of the Journal Review. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 765-918-8656. Follow him on Twitter @jaredmac26