Predictions are like sand castles. Everyone can make them, but most fall apart before they come to fruition.
At the beginning of the high school basketball season, I shoveled a few guesses into our boys and girls basketball previews, aiming to predict the 2013-14 success of the local squads.
With the Eastern Hancock, Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon and New Palestine campaigns for both sexes ending last weekend — this is the first year since 2007 that none of the eight county teams advanced to a regional — let’s take a look back at the preseason prediction building:
THE GOOD GUESSES
(+/- two victories)
The G-C girls went 15-7, I forecasted 14-7. New Palestine’s girls were 9-11; me — 8-14. And Mt. Vernon finished 17-5, not too far off a 15-8 guess for the girls group.
I could make a 2014-15 prediction right now: Minimum 15 wins across the board. Greenfield and the Dragons return the entirety of their rosters, while MV will be led by Sydney Shelton — the county’s leading scorer — and a capable surrounding unit.
It’s a good time for local girls basketball. After a now-defunct 31-game Hoosier Heritage Conference win streak, Mt. Vernon finally has a rival — it split a pair of games with the Cougars this year, including the HHC streak-buster — and New Palestine is gaining ground fast on both.
We’re also toward the beginning of what could be a string of Indiana All-Star selections from Hancock County.
Jessica Brown (Indiana Wesleyan) finished third in the Miss Basketball voting in 2012 out of Mt. Vernon. Current MV senior Erica Moore (Purdue), from what I’m told, has a real shot at this year’s All-Star team. Shelton is a virtual lock in 2016, and she could be followed in 2017 by current G-C frosh Maddie Wise, who has attracted significant Division I attention.
That’s potentially four All-Stars in six seasons. From 1978-2000, Hancock County had six female All-Stars.
THE SO-SO GUESSES (+/- four victories)
I had the G-C boys down for an 8-16 finish and they were 5-18. Eastern Hancock was going to go 12-11 in the boys season, according to this guy, and they went 16-6. And I thought New Palestine’s season would end at 14-8, but they were 10-11.
The pleasant surprise in this group, obviously, is Eastern Hancock, which fell in the sectional semifinal 45-43 to Union County (19-5). A supremely athletic Northeastern (22-2) club demolished Union County 80-45 for the title.
An EH-Northeastern title tilt would have intrigued — Northeastern beat Eastern Hancock 51-45 in the Royals’ first game of the season, a game in which EH wasn’t at full strength.
The Royals will have to replace Isaiah McCormick’s 13.5 points per game next season, but a team built on defense and depth should hold up well next winter.
Ryan Curry (16.7 ppg) will return for his senior season with the Dragons, who never found quite enough scoring to compliment its capable shooting guard. In winning 32 combined games in 2012-13 and 2011-12, New Palestine averaged 61 points and allowed 53.3. This season, the defense was again sound (52.7) but the offense (54.4) occasionally lacked.
The Dragons lost five games in which they held their opponent to fewer than 50 points.
G-C suffered its second straight five-win season. The average margin dipped from 9.7 points two years ago to 7.7 points this time around.
THE MISSES (+/- six victories)
The Mt. Vernon boys looked like a 15-8 team to me and the Marauders went 9-15. I had Eastern Hancock at 23-5 and the girls were 17-5.
MV’s injury and other issues have been well-documented. In peak form, the Marauders were formidable: they beat 4A Evansville Harrison 70-53 in the Hall of Fame Classic consolation Dec. 28. Following that loss, Harrison went 14-2 to close the regular season and finished 17-9.
A host of MV underclassmen will benefit from the experience they received this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they increase their win total each of the next three seasons.
I had Jeremy Powers’ EH girls down for a deep postseason run, hence the six extra wins. They fell short of their own oft-stated goal of winning a sectional title, losing 59-55 to Knightstown in the championship game.
And, although the Royals graduate their top three leading scorers, Powers has enough young talent in the pipeline (evidenced by the abundance of EH elementary/middle school/JV team championship pictures that are frequently published in this Sports section) to be a continual sectional contender.
Brian Harmon is The Daily Reporter sports editor. Contact him at (317) 477-3227 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.