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Final weekend for local high school sports was a mixed bag

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Cheerleaders from around the state dance on the Fieldhouse floor before last Saturday night’s awards ceremony of the Indiana Cheer Championships. Shenandoah and Knightstown picked up trophies during the ceremony after New Castle had gotten one earlier in the day.
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The Northview High School student section cheers its team on against New Castle during last Saturday’s Class 3A state championship match at Ball State’s Worthen Arena in Muncie. The Knights’ students booed the Trojan girls during player introductions and chanted “Overrated” at New Castle even though Northview was behind in the match. They eventually were rendered almost silent as the Trojans completed the three-set sweep for a repeat state championship.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

After last weekend, fall sports for our local high school teams are over, except for occasional all-star games, and attention now shifts to winter sports, which already have begun for several schools with girls basketball.

Honestly, I thought I’d still be covering a football regional game this Friday, as I was almost certain Shenandoah would be playing. All of the contestants in our Pigskin Picks contest thought so, too, as none picked Lapel to defeat the Raiders, but the Bulldogs turned the tables on the host 42-41 in overtime.

It was almost deja vu for me, as two weeks prior I had witnessed a double overtime sectional opener when Greenwood came to town and defeated the New Castle football team 35-34, knocking the Trojans out of the tournament.

What are the odds of a reporter witnessing two overtime sectional football games over three Fridays? Not too high, I would suppose.

Lapel must love to feast on our area teams when sectional football time rolls around. Without looking it up, I can recall the Bulldogs ousting Hagerstown and Shenandoah (twice) in sectional football championship games in the not-too-distant past.

I was really impressed with Lapel junior quarterback Cole Alexander. The Raider defense sacked him for losses several times, but he always seemed to produce a big play when needed. Many of those huge plays came on third or fourth down and long, and Lapel got the yardage to either move the chains or score a touchdown.

The Hagerstown football team also lost to Indianapolis Lutheran in the Class A Sectional 46 championship game for the third year in a row. When sectional realignment comes at the end of this academic year, I kind of hope the Saints aren’t in sectionals involving our local teams.

Saturday afternoon, I ventured to Ball State’s Worthen Arena in Muncie to cover the Class 3A No. 1 New Castle High School volleyball team in its state championship match against Northview, with the goal of back-to-back state titles for the first time in school history in any sport, boys or girls.

Ball State charges $5 to park in the Worthen Arena lots. As I’ve stated in previous RR&R columns, I hate to pay for parking, not because I can’t afford it, but it’s the principle of the deal. Why pay for something when you don’t have to?

I tried to find parking on the streets near Worthen Arena, but signs state “Permit Required” or “2-hour Parking 6 a.m.-6 p.m.” and did not state that Saturday wasn’t included. I didn’t want to get a ticket or get towed, so I didn’t park there, passed a couple lots where attendants were standing to take the $5 fee, and finally got to a residence hall lot within reasonable distance of Worthen Arena where I could park for nothing, and did so.

I would say the walk was not more than a half mile away from Worthen Arena, it was a nice day weather-wise, and walking is good for you, anyway, so I got to view the major differences in BSU now from when I was a student in the early to mid 1970s as I made my way to Worthen Arena.

The length of the Class A match forced back the starting times of the three other state championship matches, so I got my media pass at the ticket window and was there to see much of the Class 2A match between North Judson-San Pierre and Christian Academy of Indiana, and the Blue Jays won in three sets.

There was no assigned seating at the press table on the Worthen Arena floor, so I finally found a seat next to Don Shondell, the legendary volleyball coach of Ball State whom I already knew, and we chatted some.

Actually,I had tried out for Don’s Ball State men’s volleyball team as a freshman in the fall of 1971. I never was cut, but gave it up when I realized I couldn’t jump very high, and went back to playing intramurals in the Ball State gym.

My seat at the press table happened to be in front of the Northview (adult) fan section, and it behaved itself pretty well throughout the match.

But I have covered volleyball for The Courier-Times every fall beginning in 2004 (back then I was a sports correspondent), and I have never encountered a student section as obnoxious as Northview’s. It was primarily the males of that group that made it so.

They started their antics well before the match with the Trojans began and it only intensified as the start approached. I never have heard a fan section boo the opposing team’s girls during introductions as the Northview students did.

New Castle won the first set, but that didn’t quiet the Knights’ students much. They then began chanting “Overrated” to the Trojan team during the second set. I thought to myself, “Dudes, you don’t use that chant when you’re behind in the match.” I was really hoping New Castle would sweep to shut up the Northview students.

The Trojan girls even noticed it, as Zoe Conway commented to me after the match that she had told Mabrey Shaffmaster after the first set that they needed to do something to quiet the Northview students down.

The New Castle team fulfilled my wish, as it won the second set and it was like the air had been let out of a big balloon. The Northview students were almost silent after that as the Trojans completed their sweep.

I stayed around for the start of the Class 4A match between Avon and Yorktown. Both had defeated New Castle during the regular season, and I wanted to see how close the Orioles (who had lost to the Tigers 3-0 during the regular season) could come against Yorktown for all the marbles.

Yorktown won the first set 25-16. I left, figuring the Tigers would win (they did with a 3-0 sweep), and headed back to New Castle.

I arrived back in town, was home for about 15 minutes, and then went to the Fieldhouse for the awards ceremony of the Indiana Cheer Championships. I like attending the evening awards ceremony because all the girls go down on the floor and dance to the music before it begins.

Shenandoah and Knightstown picked up trophies in the Varsity D Division. New Castle picked up a fifth-place trophy in the Time-Out Division earlier in the day when I wasn’t there, so a photo of the NC Cheer Team is in today’s paper for those who think I was slighting the Trojans.

The New Castle volleyball team will move up to Class 4A for the next two years because of the IHSAA’s tournament success factor rule. With almost everybody back with one more year of experience under their belts, I think the Trojans are capable of winning it all again for a three-peat.

Will they do it? Only time will tell. Until then, on to winter sports!

David Risley is sports editor of The Courier-Times.