Concord’s 1987-88 and 1989-90 teams journeyed as far as you figuratively can journey in boys high school basketball — to Indiana’s single-class state championship game.
As it turns out, many of the players from those teams also have journeyed literally far.
Whether coincidence or something more, perhaps the most striking theme from the Friday, Jan. 10, reunion for the two teams at McCuen Gym emerged when introductions were made, complete with where those ex-players reside now.
Just among those who were able to make it back Friday, there was, of course, Shawn Kemp, in from Seattle, but there was also Tom Rector, in from Phoenix; Jade Hagen, in from Jacksonville, Fla.; Shane Bechtel, in from Greenup, Ky.; Ryan Sumrak, in from Geneva, Ill.; Bill Mutch, in from Plymouth, Mich.; and Chris Bailey, in from Zionsville.
That many traveling that far in early January on the heels of the hazardous weather that started the week throughout much of the country is testament to just how important that time was in Minutemen lore.
And among those who couldn’t make the trip, it certainly was understandable.
Those located, but not on hand, included Phil Eddy, middle school principal at American University School in Safat, Kuwait; Jeff Massey, a Saint Bonaventure (N.Y.) University assistant, whose team was playing early the following afternoon at UMass; Jamar Johnson, Steve Larkin and Duane Wickey, who each happen to live in the Phoenix area; Todd Hansen, who lives in San Diego; Donny Hackworth, who lives in Florida; Micah Sharp, who lives in Tennessee; Mike Swanson, who lives in Cleveland; and Matt Stender, who lives in Fishers.
Ryan Culp, whose Elkhart Christian Eagles stand 7-1, and Cien Asoera each still live in the Elkhart area and were on hand.
Among the ex-players, only Colby Denman, according to Concord athletic director Dave Preheim, could not be located before the reunion.
Of course, there’s also Maceo Sharp, who died in 2010 after a long and courageous battle with health issues.
Upon mention of Sharp’s name over the public address on Friday, the McCuen air chilled as fans wistfully clapped and a couple of the ex-players pointed skyward.
There were plenty of other sentimental moments, too.
Most of the players sported wide grins on their faces all evening, and Concord backers seemed to revel in the nostalgia that permeated the gym.
Some of the players shot their own photos as they were welcomed back.
Mutch — one of the only two individuals who started for both state runner-up clubs, along with Johnson — kept looking all around him like a star-struck kid. He was either seeking the ideal panoramic shot, or perhaps seeking Damon Bailey, so he could try to draw another charging foul.
Whichever the case, it was a memorable night, well worth all those journeys back.
Due in part to rescheduling caused by the weather and due in part to conference tourney play, some teams will face busy game schedules this week.
Elkhart Memorial will play three games in four days beginning Wednesday.
Elkhart Central will play three in five days beginning Tuesday.
Westview could play three in four days — after not playing any in 17 days thanks to postponements.
And Fairfield is hoping to play four in five. That would mean the Falcons are in Saturday’s Northeast Corner Conference Tournament championship game.
A slate that might have some NBA players filing grievances with their union isn’t necessarily all that bad.
“If you play that first night and you’re able to get through to the final, you’ll be playing three games in five days in the sectional, so it’s very similar and a chance to experience something similar,” Crimson Charger coach Mark Barnhizer said after Saturday’s loss at Penn.
“A lot of kids like to play games, and don’t like to practice this time of the year, so there are positives,” said Barnhizer, whose next win will be his 100th in less than eight years at Memorial. “The negative is you just don’t have much time to prepare. You just kind of show up and play, which isn’t always good.”
Fairfield (5-3) hosts Lakeland (2-5) in an NECC Tourney first-round game Tuesday, and the winner hosts three-time defending champ Westview (4-2) on Wednesday.
All NECC Tourney contests are girl/boy doubleheaders, and per the alternating-year format, boys results will determine home teams. Thus some girls games could wind up at neutral sites.
Semifinals are Friday at two of the boys winners and the finals Saturday at West Noble.
Word is spreading about coach Al Rhodes’ Kingsmen.
With two more authoritative wins last week to move to 9-0 — matching the best start in program history — Penn surged all the way from No. 10 to No. 4 in this week’s statewide coaches’ poll.
Only No. 1 Carmel (8-0), Greensburg (12-0) and Indianapolis Tech (12-1) are ahead of the Kingsmen in the all-class ratings.
Meanwhile, Elkhart Christian has its first-ever Associated Press Top 10 ranking this week, checking in at No. 8 in Class 1A.
STATS OF THE WEEK
Some wacky numbers came out of Fairfield’s 39-28 win last week over Eastside, one of them simply being an overtime game decided by 11 points.
The Falcons prevailed despite scoring just three points over the middle two quarters. They missed 16 straight field-goal tries from the second quarter through early in the fourth, and their highest-scoring period of the night was their 13 points in the four-minute OT.
It’s rare enough when even one player outscores an entire team, but Elkhart Christian had two do so in Saturday’s 97-21 win over Lakeland Christian.
Cory Waycaster finished with 24 points and Ryan Kupferschmid 22, surpassing 1,000 for his career in the process.
ECA recorded its most lopsided win in at least the last 22 years (data incomplete before that) and matched a 2000-01 contest for its most points in a game during that span.
Contact Anthony Anderson at email@example.com or on Twitter @AnthonyAnders11.
ANTHONY’S TWINE 12
Team W-L 1. Penn (1) 9-0
2. NorthWood (2) 8-0
3. Northridge (3) 9-1
4. Warsaw (4) 7-3
5. SB Washington (5) 7-2
6. SB Adams (6) 8-4
7. SB St. Joseph (7) 4-4
8. Elkhart Christian (9) 7-1
9. Westview (10) 4-2
10. West Noble (11) 8-0
11. New Prairie (12) 5-2
12. Concord (—) 5-3
Last week’s ranking in parentheses. Dropped out: Triton (8). Teams chosen from among the 38 making up the NLC, NIC, NSC, NECC and independents Bethany and Elkhart Christian.
IHSAA BOYS AREA RECORDS
W-L Off. Def.
Penn 9-0 72.0 54.0
NorthWood 8-0 55.1 42.4
Northridge 9-1 61.1 53.4
Elk. Christian 7-1 75.0 44.5
Westview 4-2 59.7 51.2
Concord 5-3 54.0 50.1
Fairfield 5-3 58.5 48.9
Jimtown 5-3 48.0 37.3
Memorial 4-5 52.3 56.9
Goshen 4-6 43.8 51.4
Central 3-5 63.1 60.1
Marian 3-5 54.8 56.5
Bethany 3-7 46.6 59.7
Wawasee 1-8 43.9 53.0
G Pts Avg
Nate Ritchie, Nridge 10 245 24.5
Devin Cannady, Marian 8 190 23.8
Jordyn Bontrager, Wview 6 140 23.3
Cory Waycaster, ECA 8 157 19.6
Joe Line, Fairfield 8 148 18.5
Zach Zurcher, NWood 8 144 18.0
Ramon Johnson, Concord 8 142 17.8
Treyton Harris, Central 8 137 17.1
Ryan Kupferschmid, ECA 8 128 16.0
Jordan Geist, Penn 9 140 15.6
Jon Wilkinson, NWood 8 123 15.4
Chandler Aspy, Wview 5 76 15.2
Dimitri Giger, Memorial 9 131 14.6
Filip Serwatka, Concord 8 116 14.5
Alex Clark, Wawasee 9 121 13.4
A.J. Gary, Memorial 9 118 13.1
Deric Haynes, Goshen 10 130 13.0
Billy Doslak, Penn 9 116 12.9
Abe Thorne, Bethany 10 119 11.9
Pete Smith, Nridge 10 110 11.0
Sol Brenneman, Bethany 10 106 10.6
Kenny Bearss, ECA 8 82 10.3
Nick Floyd, Jimtown 8 79 9.9
Taylor Brooks, Penn 9 87 9.7
Ryan Lutz, Penn 9 87 9.7
Aaron Flax, Central 8 77 9.6
Chase Hoeflinger, Jimtown 8 76 9.5
Brady Bechtel, Goshen 2 19 9.5
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Tuesday, Jan. 14
Elkhart Central at Warsaw (7-3)
SB Clay (3-7) at Concord
NorthWood at New Prairie (5-2)
Elkhart Christian at SB St. Joseph (4-4)
Lakeland (2-5) at Fairfield in NECC Tournament first round
Wednesday, Jan. 15
Mishawaka (2-6) vs. Elkhart Memorial at North Side Gym
Marian at Jimtown
Westview at Lakeland/Fairfield winner in NECC Tournament quarterfinal
Thursday, Jan. 16
NECC consolations (pairings, sites TBD)
Friday, Jan. 17
Mishawaka vs. Elkhart Central at North Side Gym (6 p.m. girl/boy varsity doubleheader)
Elkhart Memorial at Wawasee
Concord at Plymouth (4-5)
New Prairie at Jimtown
Northridge at NorthWood
Goshen at Warsaw
Penn at SB Washington (7-2)
Marian at SB St. Joseph
NECC Tournament semifinals at sites TBD (Lakeland/Fairfied/Westview survivor is one host)
Saturday, Jan. 11
Wawasee vs. Elkhart Central at North Side Gym
Hobart (3-6 before Chesterton Tuesday and Andrean Friday) at Elkhart Memorial (on campus)
Elkhart Christian at Oregon-Davis (2-7 before Argos Friday)