It was exciting to watch Southport win its first sectional and regional titles in 16 years. Senior Joey Brunk will be fun to follow during his career at Butler.
Southport lost to New Albany 82-64 in Saturday’s semistate game in Richmond. Brunk paced the Cards with 22 points. The Bulldogs were led by Romeo Langford, who lit up the scoreboard for 46 points, many of which came on long-range 3-pointers.
The Marian University women’s team played so strongly throughout the season that it hosted the Crossroads League tournament. The lady Knights had a great run in the tourney but lost to Indiana Wesleyan in the championship game.
The week after that they won five games in seven days to win the NAIA Division II championship March 15 by defeating Southern Oregon 59-48 in Sioux City, Iowa.
There are some strong Southside ties to the team, which is coached by Beech Grove High School graduate Katie Douglas. She played on the Hornets’ 2003 3A state championship team and was named Miss Basketball that year. She played four years at Purdue and in the WNBA and overseas before being named the Knights’ coach in July 2013.
Assistant coach Mark Parker also has a Southside connection as he was the girls basketball coach at Beech Grove High for several years. He is a Beech Grove police officer and works with his drug-sniffing police dog, Wyatt, who is a friend of my therapy dog, Stuart.
Two of Marian’s players, Jessica Almeida and Joana Soeiro, are from Portugal, having met Katie when she played there. After being named coach, Katie reconnected with these gals.
The team traveled by charter bus to Iowa. The driver, Homer, told me that he has driven the team since Katie was named coach. It was easy to see that he was a vital part of the team.
The Knights qualified for the tournament last year (also in Sioux City) and were paired with Hunt Elementary School, which they reconnected with again this year. The team ensured that many of these children, their parents and staff members were able to see the games.
The final two games of the tournament were aired on ESPN3, which – as far as I know – can only be seen on a computer. My wife, Lynn, and I tried to watch, but the screen frequently froze up for 30 seconds or so, and the same commercial was repeatedly shown.
Lakan Hasser-Smith scored 16 points in the championship game to finish her college career with 2,000 points. Roncalli graduate Kellie Kirkhoff also scored 16 points.
From all of the Facebook postings after the game, I knew everyone was really excited. I figured the team would head home early the next morning, but I was wrong. The ladies returned to Hunt Elementary the following day because they had promised to show their trophy to their young friends.
I was standing with friends and family members of the team as it arrived back to Marian on March 17. It was a special honor to see the team greeted by its many fans.