Clovers have tough WVC route; Marian eliminated

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A few more holiday leftovers, and some new stuff:

• The Cloverdale boys’ basketball team wanted to play better teams this year in its quest to repeat last year’s sectional title and go even farther in the tourney.

The Clovers are getting their wish.

They played a good Illini Bluffs team last week in Illinois, and on Tuesday found out their draw for the First Financial Wabash Valley Classic in Terre Haute. The 16-team tourney, which will take place the last week of December, has three ranked teams in the field — Class 2A No. 8 Linton-Stockton, Class 4A No. 20 Terre Haute South and Class 3A No. 17 Northview.

In order to get to the championship game, the Clovers will have to beat each of those teams in that exact order of succession (or anyone who might knock one of them off).

Pat Rady was the person drawing the names to fit into the bracket, and clearly did not do any favors for his son’s team.

The Clovers will open play against Linton-Stockton at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 26 as the sixth of eight games on the first day of the four-day event.

• Wittenberg, the North Coast Athletic Conference football champions, recorded a 33-30 first-round win over Thomas More in the NCAA Division III championships on Nov. 19. The Tigers were eliminated on Saturday, falling 37-9 to No. 2-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater.

• Top-ranked and defending national champion Marian had its football season ended earlier than usual on Saturday, as the Knights lost at home 17-0 to Eastern Oregon in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA playoffs.

The Knights, who defeated Robert Morris 32-7 in the first round, had won their previous 20 games.

The game marked the end of the Marian career of South Putnam grad Robert Gibson, who carried the ball five times for 29 yards. Gibson had 81 carries for 468 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season.

A full “College Report” summarizing the fall sports will be upcoming in early December.

• Tri-West football coach Chris Coll has been hired as the new head coach at Franklin High School.

The Bruins are losing Indiana University-bound tight end Peyton Hendershot and standout quarterback Jake Hill, who inexplicably has not been as highly recruited as he should be, to graduation.

• There is good news and bad news for the schools currently grouped in Class 2A Sectional 39 for football.

Monrovia, which has won the sectional for the past two years, is required to move up to Class 3A because of the IHSAA’s “success factor.” This policy is a ranking system that requires schools to move up in class once they accumulate enough points for advancing through the state tournament.

Monrovia’s departure would have to be considered good news, but the bad news is that a likely replacement (unless other changes are made) would be Linton-Stockton.

The Miners have been dominant in Class A for many years, and with their recent state title they have now accrued enough points to be moved up to 2A. They could easily slide into Monrovia’s spot.

Not that the Western Indiana Conference is looking to expand beyond 12 teams, but if anyone bails out it would seem that making a call to Linton should be high on the list. The Miners are one of only 26 teams statewide who are not in a football conference.

The other schools currently in Sectional 39 are Paoli, Mitchell, Cloverdale, Cascade, South Vermillion and Southmont.

The “success factor” has been a welcome addition to the IHSAA tournament structure, although it cost North Putnam a baseball sectional title last spring when the Cougars lost to Rockville (which had been bumped up from Class A) in the championship game.

• Apologies for a few recent errors.

I misspelled the last name of South Putnam senior basketball player Jessica Vensko when she was the “featured athlete” recently, and Nick Costin’s passing yards were incorrect in Monday’s Banner Graphic. His total should have been 787 yards.

An editing error mislabeled a photo of a Cloverdale basketball player last week (it was actually Jake Wilkes), and I called Cloverdale’s Sammie Shrum by her sister’s name in a game story earlier this month.

• I find it interesting to follow opposing players of the teams I’m covering, and 6-8 senior Taylor Bruninga of Illini Bluffs will definitely be one to keep track of in the future.

Bruninga and his team played five games last week (finishing second in a tournament besides playing a game against Cloverdale), and he averaged 38.4 points and 16.8 rebounds in those contests.

Bruninga had offers from three schools below the Division I level as of signing day earlier this month, and chose to wait and see if he improved his stock. He definitely did, as Bruninga is visiting Illinois tonight and has also had recent interest from Loyola, Toledo, Northern Iowa, DePaul, Indiana State, Valparaiso, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and Wright State.

Bruninga’s school is more than 100 students smaller than Cloverdale, but he competed with the Illinois Irish AAU program and should have gotten good exposure there.

He was one stroke away from advancing from the first round in the Illinois state golf tournament last fall, and also played on a travel baseball team last summer.

I learned long ago to never judge anyone by seeing them play one game, so it’s really hard to judge at which level he should play collegiately. Bruninga is listed as a post player in most online articles I have read, but appears physically to be more suited for the perimeter.

He made one 3-pointer against Cloverdale, and if he is consistent from that distance then he’s definitely a Division I talent.

College coaches will undoubtedly want to see him play inside against defenders of equal size.

That will tell them if he’s a Division I guy or not.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: