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Recruits bring hype, but basketball still a team sport

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By John Shindlebower

HYPE AND HOOPS

High School basketball used to be huge in Kentucky. It still is in some corners, but it seems the only way to fill up a high school gymnasium these days is to lure some big-name college recruits and bank on fans of a prospect’s future college buying up the tickets.

That was the formula behind Sunday afternoon’s Louisville Play-By-Play Classic. A double-header that pitted Bullitt East against Spencer County in the 4 p.m. game. However, it was the first game that brought out the crowds. Of the announced 2,500 in attendance, I doubt if more than a few dozen could have told you where Morgan Park High School or Upper Rock Christian Academy are located. (Chicago and North Carolina, respectfully - for the record) and so it wasn’t support for the schools that drew the masses.

Rather, it was support for two high-profiled recruits, both of whom have committed to the University of Louisville. Wayne Blackshear of Morgan Park is a senior and will be wearing Cardinal Red next year, while Rodney Purvis, a junior, has agreed to follow him the next season.

Blackshear struggled in the first half, seemed to be a bit quick to argue with the refs, and was the benefactor of an official’s decision not to pin a fifth foul on him early in the third quarter. However, he did show signs of real talent, draining a couple of three-pointers, driving for several dunks and scoring all of his 24 points in the second half.

Purvis meanwhile looked more consistent and maybe better overall. He had 18 points on the day, was quick to operate within an offense and made some great passes which should have left him with more assists if his teammates would have finished. He also unselfishly ran the offense at the end of the game and found an open teammate to take the game-winning shot in the closing minutes.

While the athletic display can’t be denied during that first matchup, there wasn’t anything “fundamentally about basketball” that was overly impressive. In fact, and this is unfortunate for Spencer County, but the most complete team that took the court Sunday afternoon may well have been Bullitt East, who had good size, great shooters and more discipline than the two out-of-state teams.

BEARS BOUNCE BACK

While Bullitt East looks like it belonged on the court with the traveling teams, Spencer County came out flat. They’re a much better team than the 74-47 score indicated and you could tell within the first few minutes the atmosphere may have overwhelmed them a little.

It was still a good experience, but only if they will let experience be a teacher. If this team is to advance in the postseason, there’s going to be similar atmospheres they’ll have to contend with. When this team is thinking solely about basketball, it can be tough to beat. A win over Shelby County next week will give the Bears top seed in the district tournament, which the Bears will host this year.

The team has enjoyed good support this season, but there are still empty seats in the gym at home games and that should not be the case with a team like this. Fans really need to get behind this team right now, they need to come out and support the Bears, to be loud and to give the team a real home-court advantage.

THEFT

The Bears didn’t just lose the game Sunday afternoon at Bullitt East, but players lost money, wallets, cell phones and other items that were taken from their bags sometime during the first half of their game.

When a crowd of that size is expected at an event like that, security should have been tighter.

Barmore said some of the items were later recovered out in the parking lot, but he hadn’t heard any more about the investigation of the incident.

LADY BEARS

Coach Daniel Cox enjoyed a great run with his first team at Spencer County three years ago, advancing to the Regional Tournament, but it has been a bit of a struggle since then.

From that team, he lost players to graduation and some who quit on him mid-season last year.

This year his team continues to be young, but there are signs of promise.

Support is great when a team is doing well, but sometimes it’s most needed when a team needs to be motivated and encouraged.

Most of the scorers from this year’s team are going to be back next year and there’s even a sign of improvement lately. Schools like Spencer County usually aren’t blessed by the sheer numbers of talented players every year that larger schools may have.

So success isn’t guaranteed each season.

Instead, success is something that has to build over time and that process is only helped by supportive fans, regardless of the record.

FOOTBALL COACH

Word is that Spencer County High School has selected a new football coach who will be announced later this week.
Look in next week’s Magnet for more details.