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Trojan boys basketball team honored

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This banner was on display during Thursday evening’s banquet at the old New Castle Armory honoring the 2017-2018 New Castle High School boys basketball team, outlining the major accomplishments the Trojans had this past season.
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Members of the New Castle High School boys basketball team enjoy their meal as others wait in line to choose their food during Thursday evening’s banquet honoring the team at the old New Castle Armory.
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From the left, New Castle High School boys varsity basketball players Niah Williamson, Mason Gillis, and Luke Bumbalough receive their awards for being named to the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference Team. Gillis and Bumbalough also were named to the IBCA’s Underclassmen (non-senior) Supreme 15 Team while Williamson was named by the IBCA as Honorable Mention Senior All-State.
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Daniel Cox (left), head coach of the New Castle High School boys varsity basketball team, presents the Heart & Hustle award t-shirt to senior Bryce Webb during Thursday evening’s banquet honoring the team at the old New Castle Armory. Cox indicated to those present that Webb won the award hands-down, as it wasn’t even close.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

The members and coaches of one of the most successful New Castle High School boys basketball teams in school history was honored with a banquet Thursday evening at the old New Castle Armory.

New Castle boys varsity basketball Head Coach Daniel Cox welcomed those assembled for the banquet and gave the blessing. Afterward, a meal of chicken strips, mashed potatoes, green beans, noodles, and assorted salads and desserts was enjoyed by all.

Cox introduced first-year junior varsity Coach Cory Criswell, who then introduced the players on his team and talked a bit about the season.

Criswell explained that the Trojan JV was 14-8 this season and 5-2 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference. The team played four freshmen extensively during the 2017-18 campaign and Criswell said he was very glad he got the opportunity to coach the boys.

Freshmen coaches Mark Boatright and Clay McDaniel were introduced next. Boatright called out the names of the freshmen players and talked a bit about the past season.

Boatright stated that the team fell behind Anderson by four points in the first game of the season and ended up winning by 12 points on the way to a 10-5 record. He said the boys got valuable experience for next year’s junior varsity (and perhaps varsity) team.

Cox then thanked a number of individuals by name who were instrumental to the success of the program this past season, starting with the team managers, the Trojan Warrior, and then the parents, administrators, media personnel, scorekeepers, PA announcer, and film person April Swim.

Cox then introduced the coaching staff of Derek Alexander, Criswell, Boatright, McDaniel, James Allen, Dave Allen, Steve Burris, and Steve Swim, and mentioned how long they had been on his staff and in the program. Cox thanked the coaches’ wives for their sacrifices this past season.

Some highlights of the varsity season were given by Cox. Among them were the record of 27-3 (second-best all time in winning percentage and tied for the most wins in a season in school history), the two double digit winning streaks of 16 games to open the season and 11 more after the two regular season losses, the 600+-point seasons of juniors Mason Gillis and Luke Bumbalough and the fact that those two were the first Trojan teammates to average more than 20 ppg apiece in the same season, the three-point shooting prowess of the team, the undefeated conference championship for the first time in school history, and the Hall of Fame Classic championship for the first time in six attempts.

Gillis was named an Indiana Junior All-Star in the Core group (top six juniors in the state) and Bumbalough was named an Indiana Junior All-Star in the Central group. Both also were named to the IBCA’s Underclassmen (non-seniors) Supreme 15 Team.

Cox gave Gillis, Bumbalough, and senior Niah Williamson their awards for being named to the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference Team, and mentioned that New Castle was the only school in the conference to have three players on it (Coach Cox was named HHC Coach of the Year, although he didn’t mention it during the program).

Cox gave junior Nicholas Grieser his HHC All-Academic Team patch, and Williamson and senior Matthew Dickerson were given certificates for being named to the IBCA Academic All-State Honorable Mention list.

Cox then presented the Heart & Hustle award, a t-shirt, to senior Bryce Webb, and said that it wasn’t even close.

The eight juniors on the varsity team, Gillis, Bumbalough, Grieser , Blake Burris, Mason Hardwick, Rylan Huntley, Wes Chamberlain, and Nolan Beam, were introduced and Cox talked a little bit about them. Cox explained that those eight were superstars in their roles and part of something special this season and had memories that would last a lifetime. He encouraged them to work hard and make next season at least as good, if not better, than this past season.

Cox then introduced the seniors individually and said a few words about each one.

About Matthew Dickerson, Cox stated Dickerson never met a shot he didn’t like (to chuckles from the audience) and that he wasn’t worried about Dickerson succeeding in the future because he handles himself so well in every situation.

When commenting about Bryce Huntley, Cox stated that he never saw anyone recover from a knee injury as quickly as Huntley did. He praised Huntley for doing everything the team asked and that he was a good protector as he got in the face of opponents who tried some stuff with his teammates.

Cox mentioned that Dickerson was going to Ball State to study sports media and that Huntley intended to study sports marketing in college, so perhaps the two could form some sort of partnership.

Bryce Webb was the third senior introduced and Cox praised his perseverance and hard work. Cox explained that Webb was just a manager on the 7th-grade team, but made the 8th and 9th-grade teams, improving every year and working himself up to a starting role on the team as a senior, who played a vital role in the Trojans’ success. Cox mentioned that Webb was going to attend college at Ivy Tech.

Niah Williamson was the final senior introduced. Williamson had two 20-point games this season and was one of the team’s best three-point shooters. Cox said that Williamson dressed for varsity as a freshman and worked up to a starting role his junior and senior seasons. Cox stated that Williamson was good on both field and court as well as in the classroom, and that he was going to play football and study pre-med at Wabash College.

The evening concluded with those in attendance viewing a video (on sale for $10) about the seniors and highlights of the 2017-18 season. The seniors were presented with basketballs painted by Chad Niccum and a bag of gifts before they left.