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Visiting Alices bring sweet semi-state memories for Brazil

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Times Sports Editor

The stakes aren't quite as high as they were 27 years ago and the gym shorts are certainly longer, but that won't dampen the desire for victory for Northview boys' basketball coach Mitch Lancaster.

Vincennes Lincoln comes calling tonight, an opponent that Lancaster will remember playing opposite in a game as a high school junior back in 1981.

The current Northview head coach had helped his team pursue a dream postseason to the semi-state level where they would face eventual state champion Vincennes.

That the, then Brazil Red Devils, had reached that level at all was somewhat improbable after sitting at 6-11 at one during the season. But an eight-game winning streak followed, beginning with a 68-54 win against Danville.

The Red Devils hit their stride at just the right time, reaching the postseason before class basketball, with a 9-11 mark.

Brazil then took a trip to the Clinton Sectional where they rousted rival Clay City, 57-45, sectional favorite Montezuma, 44-43 and then claiming the title with a 59-37 win over the hosts.

Riding that emotional high, Brazil then tackled a daunting regional field that included standout teams from Cloverdale and Terre Haute South.

Some of the names on those teams are familiar as Brazil squeaked by the Braves by a 66-64 score despite 17 points from Doug Shouse.

The regional championship saw the Red Devils square off with the Clovers and come away with another close win, this one a 58-56 victory.

Chad Tucker led the Clovers with 18 in the title game and a combined 29 points in the two contests.

Brazil had two players named to the All-Regional team led by Sam Carpenter, who led all scorers with 34 points in two games while Jon Jeffries added in 23.

The regional title was Brazil's first since 1958 and aligned them with the 22-2 Vincennes Alices, whose only losses were to Terre Haute South and to Barr-Reeve.

Famed coach, Orlando 'Gunner' Wyman led the squad, which included 6'8 James Courtney Witte and Doug Crook.

Crook would go on to star at Eastern Illinois and Witte would spend two years at Vincennes University, playing for a JUCO National Championship, before becoming Bob Knight's first-ever JUCO recruit for the Hoosiers.

In the semi-state contest, Brazil had one-point leads four different times in the fourth quarter, but the sizable Alices came up even bigger down the stretch for a 55-44 victory on their way to a state championship.

Despite the tallest player on their roster being just 6'3, the Red Devils battled tough with the Alices, losing the battle of the boards by just a 24-20 margin.

Crook helped Vincennes extend a 36-35 lead after three quarters by scoring 15 of the Alices' 19 fourth quarter points.

Brazil hit 57 percent (17-of-30) from the field and got 11 from Jeffries and 10 from Carpenter and 10 from a familiar face to current Northview Knights.

Coach Mitch Lancaster.

Seniors on the 1981 team included John Thomas, Carpenter, Tim Liston, Jeffries and John Howes along with a junior class of Lancaster and Greg Ankney. Casey Crabb, Joby Crick, Jeff Anderson and Harry Dressler were sophomores while Jeff Buell was the lone freshman on the roster.

Lancaster hopes his team can reverse that old result this evening against an Alices' squad that has struggled this season to a 4-13 mark and owns an 83-56 loss to Terre Haute South on Feb. 2.

Indiana State football recruit, Jared Blue, is one of the Alices' leaders and had 14 against the Braves. Guard Bryant Burch added in 11 while Kyle Tucker scored 10 and Bryce Small contributed seven for Vincennes.

Northview is coming off a lopsided victory over South Putnam in its last game and should be chomping at the bit to get on the court after having one game canceled this week due to the weather.

Tip-off of the JV game will be at 6 p.m. and the girls' basketball seniors will be honored between games.

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