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At Halftime, KHS Resembled Night at The Improv
While digging through some very old issues of the Knightstown Banner, I came upon a quote by former Knightstown basketball coach Harlan Clark, the coach of the 1958 Sectional Champion boys team.
Clark said he wasn’t concerned about how many games his team won during the season. His philosophy was to take the team through the schedule with the sole purpose of improving each week in preparation for the tournament.
That brought to mind a similar philosophy preached by former Anderson Coach Norm Held, who regularly had his team in the sweet sixteen. Former Panther Coach Bill Bergmann, who led KHS to the 1987 New Castle Sectional title, can be found saying the same thing in old issues of The Banner. That was the last non-class basketball sectional the school won.
Despite a 1-14 record, it’s beginning to look like that may be the case with this year’s edition of Knightstown Panther basketball. The team has suffered through more than its share of growing pains. There exists an ever-present lack of experience and immaturity, leading to a very high turnover rate. You expect to see that with an inexperienced team.
But when you look past the turnover ratio – the Panthers turned the ball over 50 times in the two games last weekend – the team is playing much better basketball than they were before Christmas. They played their best basketball of the season last weekend.
Coach Chad Ballenger is still experiencing with lineups, has adjusted his offense periodically, and has thrown a literal buffet of game plans onto the court this season. The end result has been this team is beginning to play better basketball.
Even though they lost to Shenandoah by 18 points Friday and to Mt. Vernon by 14 Saturday, the Panthers showed signs of doing many things better. The 29 turnovers Saturday followed 21 they committed Friday. Despite those ridiculous numbers, the team wasn’t really blown out either night.
The Panthers are fighting and scraping for everything they get, and are never giving up. Not one time this season has anyone on the team packed up the tent before the game ended, and that’s a tribute to those kids and the coaching staff.
They are still losing, but they are getting better. Their last three opponents (Centerville, Shenandoah and Mt. Vernon) were three of the best teams on the schedule, and after getting whipped by the Bulldogs, the Panthers played well.
That’s what it’s all about. You take your lumps, learn on the court, and get better.
Expect the turnovers to be whittled down in the coming weeks, and expect this team to start to see the light. Of the remaining six games, four are very winnable for this young team, and at least two should be wins without question. When that happens, expect these kids to finally gain the confidence needed when tournament play commences.
Even though the Knightstown boys are just 1-14, the fan following has been surprising to a lot of people. Several Shenandoah fans I spoke to Friday night were actually shocked by the size of the home crowd.
There could be several reasons for that huge crowd, considering the girls and boys varsity teams were playing their first double-header this season. Also, the Purdue University cheerleaders performed a brilliant halftime show, warming up the crowd for the hilarious halftime show by Cameron Mohler and Corey Hiatt. More on that later.
But the crowd was impressive and loud again Saturday, which leads me to believe that we all know something everyone else is going to eventually find out. It really is fun watching this team grow, knowing what their potential has in store for this community. The fan base has hung in there, and that’s probably one of the reasons why this team fights to the very end. A tip of the Chrome Dome to both.
Mohler versus Hiatt
The Purdue University Cheerleaders put on a rousing performance during halftime of the Knightstown-Shenandoah boys basketball game, bringing fans on both sides of the gym to their feet for several standing ovations.
When their performance ended, students stormed the court to help remove the safety mats, and the PA system started blasting the disco-era hit song, “YMCA.”
KHS house comedian Cameron Mohler, known for his antics and “never been embarrassed” behavior, took to center court and started dancing to the song. Fans on the Knightstown side started clapping to the music and cheering him on, and the louder they got, the more animated Mohler became.
Suddenly, Shenandoah High School’s own house comedian, Corey Hiatt, stormed the floor, put his back toward Mohler, and began his own dance to the song. Raider and Panther fans alike rose to their feet, half cheering and half laughing, as the two dueled to “YMCA” in a scene reminiscent of … Well, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like that before.
Once Mohler realized Hiatt was behind him, the dance competition was on. But Hiatt took it to the next level, shaking like ... Well, I’ve never seen anything like that before either. But the crowd loved it. Then Hiatt threw the ultimate challenge toward Mohler, dropping his sweat pants to expose bright yellow Shenandoah Raider shorts, and offering up a family-friendly mooning.
Mohler saw that move, and turning back to the Knightstown crowd, raised his eyebrows as if to ask, “Should I?” The crowd roared again, and Mohler dropped his pants, exposing what appeared to be an extremely colorful, flower-patterned pair of boxer shorts. The crowd on both sides roared with laughter.
Call it just another Knightstown-Shenandoah halftime.
Correction and apology
In last week’s column I spoke about the talent level in the junior high girls basketball programs, giving credit to the coaches and the Optimist Club basketball program for being so effective in working with those kids. I failed to give credit to Kevin Hiner and all of the parents and coaches who make the existence of the traveling teams possible. Many of these talented young girls didn’t play in the Optimist Club program and received most of their coaching and guidance from those who lead up the traveling team programs. I apologize for that omission.
I would also like to apologize to Kandy Kiehl, who was one of the subjects in last week’s column. I have known her for 40 years, and in no way meant to insult her by the content in my column. If I offended anyone by writing that column, I apologize to you as well. Finally, I’d like to apologize for omitting Coach Justin Linch’s name when we published the junior varsity team photo two weeks ago.
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