Archive for December 7, 2011

COUGARS OUT-DUELED BY KNIGHTS

RUSSIAVILLE – The Indiana University Kokomo Cougars completed the third of a three-game home schedule before the Christmas break with, perhaps, their most intense game of the season. The Marian University Knights came to Western High School looking to finish a two-game sweep of the Cougars. Back on November 15, the Knights had manhandled the Cougars in a 30-point win.

Without question, IU Kokomo put up more of a fight this time, but Marian still departed with an 81-67 win. Coach Jace Thompson said he was pleased with the effort of his young squad.

“That was a tough team we just played,” Thompson said. “But I couldn’t be happier with the way our guys battled. They stuck to a game plan. I told them if they come out with that kind of intensity and consistency every night, we are going to be a hard team to beat.”

The Cougars pounced on the Knights from the start, forcing a Marian timeout just two minutes into the game. Jared Lawrence’s steal and layup at 17:50 forced the timeout and gave the Cougars a 6-2 lead.  Marian responded with a three-pointer out of the break and from there the fight was on. Neither team could gain the upper-hand and IU Kokomo’s 33-28 lead with 3:02 showing was the biggest lead of the first half.

Marian’s Alex Sylvester gave the Cougars fits all night from the outside. The senior guard started a 9-2 run by the visitors, and Matt Dickerson hit back-to-back layups to give the Knights a 35-33 lead with just over a minute left in the half. Lawrence tied the game with a layup at 1:08. A defensive break down let Marian’s Jake Stafford score with one second left to give the Knights a 37-35 lead at the half.

Headed to the locker room, Thompson was encouraged with his team’s effort – considering what happened the first time the teams met.

“When we were down there, we went in at the half down 16,” Thompson said. “We came out with more intensity this time, except for the first minute and a half. That was the only time they had more intensity than us.”

That first minute and a half would prove to be costly for the Cougars. The Knights rattled off eight straight points to open the second half. Suddenly, the scoreboard read 45-35 in favor of the visitors and IU Kokomo had a mountain to climb.

Brandon Larrick ended the drought for the Cougars, but the more experienced Marian squad took advantage of the cushion. IU Kokomo never came closer than three points and the Knights pulled away at the end to pick up the win.

The Cougars were led by Anthony Graves with 19 points and Nathaniel Carroll with 17 points.

Turning a 30-point loss into a 14-point loss in less than month might not seem like much of a victory, but for Thompson’s team, it definitely shows it is headed in the right direction.

“We had some starters hurt the first time we played them, but that wasn’t the main difference,” he said. “We had time to work on other stuff and guys are buying into it and we are playing together. That is what the difference was.  It showed. They just need to get a little more experience.”

According to Thompson, playing the tougher teams is the only way to go.

“You have to have a few along the way where you can go in and dictate what you want to do,” Thompson said.  “But we’ve got to earn it against the better teams. This group of freshmen just showed that two years from now it is going to be hard for us to find a schedule. They are a special group and I really think people aren’t going to want to play them. “

The Cougars travel to Ancilla College on Saturday before taking an extended break for the holidays. Thompson said the break is coming at the right time.

“We need a little bit of time for freshmen finals week,” he said. “They’ve never been through that before. And we need a time to recruit. My biggest concern right now is the freshman wall. They could all hit the wall at once. This is going to give a chance to get their legs back and come back and work on some fundamentals over the break. I think people will see that in the second half of the season they will play more like sophomores.”

(Story by Steve Geiselman, IU Kokomo)

“THE GIRLS BEGAN SQUEALING…AS THEY WERE ALL SCARED!”

(STORY APPEARS IN THE DEC. 6 EDITION OF THE SPORTS JOURNAL)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

In an age when student safety has taken center stage after scandals in such places as Carmel High School, Penn State University and Syracuse University, the Kokomo-Center School Corporation is again facing its own unfortunate situation involving the girls swim team. On Saturday morning, Dec. 3, a Kokomo bus driver was arrested for driving the high school girls swim team while intoxicated after sheriff deputies determined she ingested prescription drugs and had a blood alcohol level nearly three-times the legal limit.

Kokomo-Center bus driver Theresa Mast, 56, departed Kokomo High School at approximately 8 a.m. Saturday morning en route to a swim meet in Richmond when a swim team parent noticed something was not right. Howard County Sheriff Steve Rogers said the parent was following the school bus on US 31 when she noticed the erratic movements of the bus, so she called Kokomo girls swim coach Donita Walters, who was on the bus, to inform her of the situation. The parent, Celena Hawk, told Deputy Mike Welker, “It was the scariest thing she ever witnessed.”

“(The parent) noticed (the bus driver) was driving in and out of the lane of the roadway, and that drew everyone’s attention to her driving,” said Rogers. “Just the fact the school bus is driving erratically means we need to get the bus stopped, and that is what happened; they got onto the parking lot and the children were safely loaded onto the other bus.”

Rogers said the bus drove 14 student-athletes from Howard County though Tipton County and into Hamilton County when the swim coach had the driver pull into the Gas America at Bakers Corner. According to a Supplementary Report filed by Welker, the coach was so concerned, “She finally told (Director of Human Resources and Operations Mike) Wade that she was going to get Theresa to stop the bus before she got someone killed.”

Verbal confrontation

Welker’s report also said that while standing outside the bus, Walters and Mast had a verbal confrontation. The report states, “(Walters) stated that a verbal argument ensued with Theresa because apparently Theresa didn’t think she had done anything wrong.”

David Barnes, spokesperson for Kokomo-Center Schools, said once the bus was safely stopped, the swim coach evacuated the student-athletes into a second bus that was carrying the boys swim team to the same event.

“The student-athletes and coaches were transferred safely to another bus, which transported them safely to their event,” said Barnes in a press release. “While no students were impacted by this unfortunate situation created by an individual driver’s decision, all student-athletes and available parents were updated concerning the situation at the conclusion of their athletic event.”

After the student-athletes were safely moved to the second bus, and following the argument with the swim coach, Mast drove back to Kokomo – against the wishes of Kokomo-Center officials. Welker’s report says, “After the argument, Theresa got back on the bus and drove off before anyone could say anything to her and began heading back to Kokomo.”

Barnes said, “Kokomo-Center Transportation Department officials tried and failed to contact the driver to inform (her) another driver would come for the bus. The driver failed to respond and elected to return to Kokomo with no passengers aboard.”

Corona and Lorazepam mixed

Sheriff deputies located Mast sitting in her yellow school bus parked behind the Gas America at the intersection of US 31 and SR 26 in Kokomo. As Welker approached the bus, he heard her proclaim, “Oh my God, the cops were called.” Deputies conducted a field sobriety test that gave authorities probable cause to detain her for driving while intoxicated after a Portable Breath Tester showed a blood alcohol concentration of .125-percent. Also during the investigation, Mast revealed that she was on several prescription drugs and had consumed one that morning.

“She did state that she was currently taking several types of prescribed medications and that she did take one of her Lorazepam this morning before picking up the school bus,” Welker said in his report. “I asked her if any of these prescribed medications state that you should not operate heavy machinery or a vehicle while taking and she stated the Lorazepam says that she is not supposed to.”

In fact, Welker states he found a prescription pill bottle for Lorazepam in Mast’s purse. His report said the pill container “was clearly labeled that alcohol increased the effects of this medication.”

Mast consented to a blood alcohol test at St. Joseph Hospital, which returned a much-higher blood alcohol concentration of .20-percent, well beyond the .08 limit allowed to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Indiana. During her interview with Deputy Welker, Mast said she, “only had three bottles of Corona (beer)” and “she stated that she had (been drinking) last night but that she hadn’t been this morning.”

D Felony OWI, endangering a minor

Rogers said Mast is scheduled to appear before a judge on Dec. 6 via a video arraignment from the Howard County Criminal Justice Center. She has been charged with one count A Misdemeanor Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Endangering a Person, one count A Misdemeanor Operating a Vehicle with an ACE of .15 or more, and one count D Felony Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Endangering a Minor.

Rogers said Mast does not have a previous criminal history and he cannot remember investigating a case like this during his long law enforcement career. Because this incident involved children under the age of 18, the Indiana Department of Child Protective Services is also investigating and additional charges, including child neglect, could be forthcoming.

“It is unusual for us to deal with this situation and I am sure, to the (coach) who wasn’t a law enforcement officer, this was a very unusual situation too,” said the Sheriff. “We have been in contact with state CPS because there were minors on the bus and that does fall into the category of a possible neglect situation with the minors that were traveling on the bus.”

The arrest comes nearly four years after another incident where Lady Wildkat swimmers were put in harm’s way. Former Kokomo swim coach Brian Hindson was arrested in February 2008 on federal child pornography charges after he secretly videotaped student-athletes in the girls swimming locker room. He pleaded guilty to 16 charges and is currently serving a 33-year sentence for taping 11 female swimmers undressing in KHS facilities.

Based on the Kokomo-Center investigation, the Board of School Trustees terminated Mast at its regularly scheduled board meeting Monday night.

“Kokomo-Center officials express their deepest apologies for the decision made by this individual,” concluded Barnes.

HOWARD COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT

Excerpts from Supplementary Report

Written by Deputy Michael Welker

Celena Hawk informed me that her and her mother and father were following behind the girls bus. The bus went off the roadway and then back across into the on-coming lane of traffic. She stated that “it was the scariest thing she ever witnessed.” She informed me that her mother and father both witnessed this as well and were very sacred for their grand daughter (who was onboard).

(KHS) girls swim coach Donita Walters stated (Mast) was also hitting the brakes very hard which caused some of the papers and the swim supplies to go flying inside the bus. (Mast) yelled back to the girls, “have a party girls, I’ll clean it up.” Then (Mast) turned on the radio very loud and Walters told her twice to turn it down. Every 30 seconds the bus would go off the roadway hitting the rumble strips then back to the opposite side hitting the rumble strips. The girls began squealing each time they would run over them as they were all scared.

TAYLOR’S ANDY LEWMAN EARNS FIRST WIN

Taylor High School boys basketball head coach Andy Lewman. (SJ Photo: WILLIAM GIBSON)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

For the first time in 20 years, a coach other than Jeff Fisher earned a victory on the Taylor boys basketball sideline. After a tough 67-58 opening night loss on the road to a very good Lapel (3-0) squad, the Titans bounced back to knock off Tri-Central 70-54 for Andy Lewman’s first win as the Taylor head coach. The following night, Lewman and his Titans snared a statement win as they knocked off Class 2A No. 17 Oak Hill 55-50.

“It felt good,” said Lewman after his first varsity victory. “Our guys played well in spurts (against Tri-Central) but I saw some overall improvement from the Lapel game. It is going to take a little bit of time to get some things ironed out.”

As with any new coach, Lewman acknowledges that it will take time for his squad to understand his system and coaching philosophy.

“It is just a matter of getting more reps and more time in the game,” said Lewman. “They have to get more familiar with it before they get better. Again, it will take some time.”

Lewman found a star emerging as senior Dale Ray Washington led the Titans against Tri-Central with a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds. He followed that with a team-leading 11 points in the upset victory over Oak Hill.

“He has looked more comfortable and his energy on the defensive end really helped the team,” said Lewman. “I liked what I saw and he is improving. That is some night (against Tri-Central) for a young man.”

But despite the good start, Lewman does not want his Titans to coast through the season.

“We still have a ways to go, but it will come,” said Lewman. “It is an early part of the season and we have a long way to go. In an ideal situation, you would want to be ramped up by Christmas, but I am still learning about these kids and they are learning about me. We are making progress and I am happy.”

Taylor (2-1) is back on the floor Friday night when they host Northwestern (2-1) at 7:30 p.m.