FORTVILLE — When the Mt. Vernon High School Marauders take the floor in Terre Haute Saturday for their second straight run at a state girls basketball championship, the boys varsity squad will be right there, shoulder to shoulder, exhorting and inspiring as only they can.
It’s not like the boys don’t have enough skin in the game this week themselves. After winning their first-round sectional game Tuesday night, they face Guerin Catholic in a sectional semifinal matchup Friday. But win or lose, they intend to be under the basket Saturday to, well, help things along.
“Oh, there’s no question about it,” said junior point guard CJ Coleman when asked whether he and his mates would make the trip to Terre Haute.
“This works out great,” he said about the tournament weekend. “We all are very excited about it.”
The squad, along with a student cheering block comprised
primarily of football players, can usually be found along the baseline offering “support and encouragement” along with whatever assistance they deem necessary to the opposition.
Nick Smoot, a senior left tackle and executive president of MVHS Student Government who moonlights as the de facto cheer section leader, offered the “support and encouragement” line with the same smile that says, “We hid the instructor’s laser pointer, but he doesn’t know it yet.”
“We’re hoping for a Harlem Shake theme and be as loud as we can,” Smoot said, adding that as with most inspired endeavors, one can neither plan nor coach the great stuff.
For the uninitiated, the Harlem Shake can best be described as a dance whereby self-inflicted personal injury is set to music.
Coleman, who says his signature move on the court is the right-handed pull-up shot, said he has nothing that ultimately defines his cheering style but notes that teammate Anthony Burnett has perfected the midriff shirt flip.
When asked precisely why one would pick an opportune time to expose one’s navel during a basketball game (especially during opponents’ free throws), junior Alex Chambers looked as if he’d been asked whether water was wet.
“Girls cannot not look at that,” said Chambers, who also uses the trick.
The boys are not tying themselves to any one strategy, however.
“We just seem to feed off each other and do whatever is best for our team to win,” said sophomore center-forward Zach Spears. “Whatever fits the game.”
Spears said raising a ruckus under the bucket Saturday will be far more inspirational than a distraction for the boys team.
“It gets us fired up to be there, and it will show us what it takes to win a championship game,” Spears said.
Junior guard Alec Lohman, who has fashioned a hand signal he says indicates a three-point hit from another ZIP code but which could be interpreted in a variety of different ways, agreed the best strategy is to remain fluid.
“We’ll just go with the flow and adjust our game to their game,” he said.
And the officials, of course, are equally deserving of good-natured encouragement.
“We’re big fans of the refs,” Lohman said. “We’re supporters.”
What do the girls who have to go to work Saturday to bring home the hardware think about all the, uh … support and encouragement?
Junior forward Erica Moore, who came back from a late December knee injury and will square off against Hamilton Heights’ big guns near the basket, already had her game face on in the cafeteria Wednesday. By Saturday night, she’ll probably be too busy to notice.
“It’s a good thing that we have the support and all,” Moore said. “But I don’t pay any attention to it.”
For Chambers and his steely abs, it’s probably just as well he not know that.