RUSSIAVILLE — Western’s Class 3A girls basketball state title win on March 8 was a victory for the little guy. And the big guy.
In a record-setting upset, Western defeated Evansville Mater Dei 38-35 to capture the 3A crown in the 39th Annual State Finals at Indiana State University.
On the Western sideline that day and throughout the season was assistant coach Adam Morelock, a 2002 Greenfield-Central graduate.
The son-in-law of former longtime G-C wrestling coach Bill Yozipovich, Morelock was in charge of developing the Panthers’ front line, which featured a pair of players five-foot-11 and another at 6-2.
Morelock, who stands 6-2 and suited up as a 235-pound lineman at DePauw University, is in his second year teaching at Western. The Science Department chair helped out with the boys basketball team in 2012-13.
“Last year, the girls got beat in the sectional, and the administration asked me to move from guys over to girls,” he explained. “We had girls 6-2, 5-11 being underutilized. Working with the bigger players is kind of my specialty I guess.”
Under head coach Chris Keisling, the Panthers’ utilized a zone defense featuring the Morelock-tutored posts to hold seemingly invincible Evansville Mater Dei to a State Finals record 35 points. The previous defensive best was 37 by Fort Wayne Bishop Luers in a 3A title win over Gibson Southern in 2002.
Mater Dei, a 20-plus point Sagarain favorite to defeat Western, was aiming for its third straight state title and first since moving up to Class 3A via the IHSAA’s success factor. Led by Miss Basketball candidate Maura Muensterman (Indiana University), the Wildcats hadn’t lost to a school its own class size (or lower) since 2011 and were averaging 64 points heading into the 3A showdown against Western.
Muensterman was held 10 points below her season average by the Panthers. She finished with 12 points in 3-of-13 shooting.
“Zone was big deal with that,” Morelock explained. “They hadn’t seen a lot of zone, so we really worked on a few things.
“They have excellent guard play and are normally able to control the tempo and get the game into the 60s. But, we held them to half what they normally score.”
Morelock’s basketball acumen was honed at G-C, where he was a two-year varsity player for the Cougars, in addition to suiting up for the football and baseball squads.
As a senior on the hardcourt, Morelock helped G-C and head coach Dan Carmony finish 12-9.
He gave up playing competitive hoops to focus on football at DePauw, but Morelock’s passion for the game remained.
“Even though I’m built like a lineman, basketball has always just been fun and enjoyable,” Morelock said. “And the nice thing about basketball in terms of coaching, it’s a smaller group of athletes. You really see them grow.
“You’ve got 12, maybe 15 kids between JV and varsity. With football, you can have 100 athletes. In basketball, you really get to know your kids, know their strengths and weaknesses.”
Morelock, who has two young daughters with his wife, Delaney (Yozipovich), has caught the basketball coaching bug. Kiesling, a former administrator who quit coaching in 1998 before being lured out of retirement in 2011, might be ready to finally step away, Morelock said.
The former Cougar would relish the opportunity to take over at Western.
“I’d prefer not to leave Western,” Morelock said of the Howard County school, located near Kokomo. “But if that doesn’t happen, I’ve been talking to Kokomo High School about their (girls) opening.”
Morelock is leaning toward staying with coaching girls, but he’s got an open mind. He’d consider returning to or near Hancock County, as well, with either boys or girls.
“If the right coaching opportunity came up, we’d definitely consider coming back,” said Morelock, whose wife is also a G-C grad. “I just really love working with kids and seeing them develop.
“That’s what made winning state so rewarding. We did something no one thought could be done, and we made it happen.”