The Columbus East and Columbus North girls basketball teams have each had a chance to play in the state finals in the past seven years.
The Olympians played in Conseco (now Bankers Life) Fieldhouse in 2007. The Bull Dogs played in the Hulman Center in Terre Haute in 2012, in the middle of the state finals’ five-year stint away from Indianapolis.
Friday, the IHSAA announced that the state finals will return to Indy, at least for next year. The 2015 girls basketball state finals will be March 7 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“Bankers Life is a wonderful venue, and I wish it had been there all along,” North coach Pat McKee said. “Nothing against Terre Haute or Fort Wayne — those are great venues and great cities with great people running the events. Being in Indianapolis should create larger crowds. Bankers Life is a world-class venue. It’s a level above.”
“I think that’s a great thing,” East coach Danny Brown said. “It’s centrally located. I think this will be good for girls basketball in general to have it back in Indianapolis.”
Because Conseco/Bankers Life has hosted the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament on the same weekend as the state finals the past six years, the state finals were moved. They were at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2009, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne in 2010 and 2011 and at the Hulman Center the past three years.
“The year that we played in the state finals, I think the kids really liked playing where the Pacers play,” Brown said. “Just the logistics of it are better. I know when we played in the state finals that year, because the Big Ten women were playing, we couldn’t practice at Conseco.”
The Olympians lost to South Bend Washington in the 2007 Class 4A title game. The Bull Dogs fell in overtime to North Central in the 2012 4A final.
“The Hulman Center is a place I like,” McKee said. “My brother worked as the sports information director at Indiana State, so I was familiar with that facility. It’s kind of a miniature version of the old Market Square Arena.
“My only concern is that it’s been out of Indianapolis so long that those general fans that aren’t affiliated with participating schools may not come back,” he said. “Some of them may go, but I don’t know if they will.”
Top 60 Workout is Sunday
Three area boys basketball players and two area coaches will be involved in Sunday’s Top 60 Workout at Marian University.
East coach Brent Chitty and North coach Jason Speer are among the five coaches selected to help with on-court coaching. East’s Bryce Lienhoop, North’s Elliott Welmer and Jennings County’s Brad Hunt will be among the participants.
Players mainly from northern and southern Indiana will be in the first session from 1 to 3 p.m., while players mainly from central Indiana will be in the second session from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Both sessions are open to the public, with $7 admission.
North standout honored
North junior Josh Speidel has been selected to the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Boys Underclass All-State squad.
East junior Connor Umphress is an honorable mention Underclass All-State pick. Honorable mention Senior All-State selections include North’s Evan Henry and Welmer, East’s Lienhoop and Jennings’ Hunt.
All-HHC players named
Several area boys and girls basketball players have been selected to the All-Hoosier Hills Conference boys and girls basketball teams.
East’s Lienhoop and Umphress and Jennings’ Hunt and Adrian Kirchner are on the boys first team. East’s Parker Chitty and Nate Nolting and Seymour’s Chase Salmon are honorable mention selections.
East’s Allyson Bunch, Jennings’ Baylee Krueger and Seymour’s Emilee Pollman
are on the girls first team. East’s Audrey Wetzel, Jennings’ Emily Ertel and Seymour’s Maci Lubker made honorable mention.
Girls basketball meeting set
McKee will host an informational meeting at 6:15 p.m. Monday in the North athletics conference room for eighth-grade girls who are interested in playing basketball at North next year and their parents.
For more information, contact McKee at email@example.com.
Talent on display at meet
The North boys and girls track teams will open their outdoor seasons with a home tri-meet against Bloomington South and Franklin Central on Tuesday.
The 10th-ranked Bull Dog girls feature senior Mackenzie Caldwell, who finished third
in the state in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters last season; senior Gabby Sims, who took third in the 400; and junior Debie Gedeon, who was 13th in the 100 hurdles. The North boys are led by returning
state qualifiers in seniors Kaden Eaton (1,600), Andy Carr (3,200) and Chris Sublette (300 hurdles).
The No. 9 Bloomington South boys have an elite level pole vaulter in junior Deakin Volz, who finished second at state last season and has cleared 16 feet, 9 inches indoors this year.
Ted Schultz is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.