FORTVILLE — Progress.
For Travis Daugherty, a 12-year boys basketball coaching veteran, nothing means more, except for maybe winning.
But without the first there can be no second. This season Daugherty’s Mt. Vernon Marauders achieved both, leading to a successful 18-5 campaign and everything the head coach hoped to see in his third year at the helm.
“The longer I’ve coached, the more I’ve realized how much there is to the game then just winning and losing,” said Daugherty, the 2015-16 Daily Reporter Coach of the Year, who has steered three different programs to seven winning seasons since 2007. “The reason we play is to win, and everybody enjoys winning, probably nobody more than me.
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“But what really makes it fun is when you have a group of guys, who want to do it the right way. Who treat each other well. Who want to get better and work hard to improve. That’s what this team did.”
As a collective whole, the Marauders jumped out fast this year at 8-1 and were 16-2 before the final month of the 2015-16 season, earning votes in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association’s top 20 rankings.
Their win total surpassed both of Mt. Vernon’s previous two seasons at 9-14 in Daugherty’s first year and 13-9 finish in 2014-15.
Their final two wins last month, however, signified their best.
By knocking off both New Palestine and Yorktown, the Marauders secured their first Hoosier Heritage Conference title in six years by tying New Castle with a 6-1 league record.
The HHC championship marked the program’s third in eight seasons, third in 21 years and first since winning the title outright in 2010.
Most significantly, said Daugherty, it was a result of 10-man varsity roster working for one common goal.
“No matter how many games we would have won this year, that group that we had this year, had those qualities,” said Daugherty. “I loved coaching this team. Sure it was fun to win, but even more than that, I loved this group because they did it the right way every day.”