A Hill Too High
J. C. Tilton
For most of the season the South basketball squad has been the little engine that could -finding a way to climb almost every hill. Short in height, but tall in heart the team of over achievers has had a successful season. They successfully transitioned their offense to spread out the court this season and provide offense from both sides of the arc. Either popping a three or driving to the hoop for a layup. Defensively they were almost always short defending the post, but found a way to keep most from dominating the paint. But this past Thursday they ran into a hill too high to climb when they encountered North College Hill in the district finals.
For those not familiar, North College Hill has built a team around a couple of AAU friends, Bill Walker and OJ Mayo. Both moved into the district in order to play together. There was a third player from outside the state that moved in with the head coach, but 6'11” Keenan Ellis elected to move back to Indianapolis earlier this season. They are ranked in the top 10 high school basketball teams, not in the State - in the US! In this game of David versus Goliath, it was David who was down for the count.
There was a good sized crowd on hand at UD. The lower tier was at capacity so I am sure around 7000 were on hand. So it's intimidating enough to go against a nationally known team, but to also do it in front of a large crowd that was there to see the Walker and Mayo show was enough to make the knee's wobbly. South came out cold, only scoring 2 baskets in the first quarter. North College Hill reeled off 23 points. Dale Spitler found the range in the second quarter and scored 10 points in the quarter. This wasn't to the Trojan's liking and they matched up 6'6” Bill Walker against Spitler in the second half.
The fans got a show, a reverse dunk by Mayo, several dunks by Walker and company. South had a rough time scoring against the Trojans trapping defense. It was a tough way to end the season with a 78-25 loss. One bright spot for the Panthers was Dale Spitler who scored 19 points against a nationally ranked team, not bad when you consider that a different points of the game he drew defensive coverage from Mayo and Walker.
“I know what Poland felt like in 1939”, responded Coach Augspurger when asked about the game, “They definitely played with more intensity than they did last week in the sectional finals. We got some looks, but the players were tight. When you play in front of 7000 for the first time in your life, and these guys [North College Hill] have been doing it all year long there is bound to a difference. We wanted to keep it competitive, but when the shots didn't drop in the first half, then the wheels began to fall off. Some of the guys seemed like they were star struck, but Wes Rehmert and Dale Spitler played really well tonight. We only have one guy on our team that can dunk at all, Steve Summers [Steve got a technical for hanging off the rim in the third quarter], and that is only when the moon is right.”
On the other hand, Coach Augspurger was happy with the team this season. “This is the smallest team I've had in 13 years. We only returned one starter from last year. To get back to the district finals after falling short these past few years is great accomplishment for them. We want to improve on that to get a little better and be back at district next year. For a team of this size and athleticism to be 17-6 is an achievement, I am extremely proud of them.”
“We were happy to be here”, said South Senior Dale Spitler after the game. This is my first trip to district finals. We knew we couldn't beat them, but we wanted to be competitive. I think that we were all a little awestruck. They were bigger than I thought they would be - big, strong, and athletic. But when you get to the district finals you expect to play against the best.” A final testament to Dale was from a North College Hill fan I overheard in the stands in the fourth quarter, “That number 4 - now he's a player.” Comments: email: Chris Tilton