|By Gaylen Duskey|
A few years back there was a highly popular sports movie titled ‘Hoosiers.’
It starred Gene Hackman and was set in the fictional town of Hickory, Ind.,
and was based on the story of Milan, Ind., a small school which one the
Indiana state championship by knocking off a huge school from Indianapolis.
There are some great scenes from the movie – nice basketball action – and
One of the classic scenes takes place at the huge arena where the tournament
championship is to be played. In this scene Hackman gets out a tape measure
and measures the height of the basket and the size of the lane just to show
his players that the game is still the game.
While it is doubtful Tim Davis will get out a tape measure and start
measuring off the Charleston Civic Center as Hackman did in the movie, there
are still many similarities between Milan, Ind., (Hickory) and Calhoun
For instance there is the similarities of the nickname of the residents:
Indiana folk are Hoosiers … Calhoun folks are ‘Hooners.
Then there is the enrollment: Milan, Ind., was by far the smallest team in
the state tournament … Calhoun County is by far the smallest Class AA team
in the tournament, smaller even than two of the Class A teams.
And more, Milan, Ind., had a star player named Jimmy Chitwood and a strong
supporting cast … Calhoun has Marcus Davis and a strong supporting cast.
And fans … this is the first time in the state tournament for Calhoun and
the only time for Milan, Ind. Both fan bases are rabid and buzzing.
Calhoun plays in the first game of the tournament; taking on Winfield
(ironically the largest Class AA team in the state) Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
and should the Red Devils win they will play the winner of the Oak
Glen-Westside game at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the semifinals. The championship
game is scheduled for noon on Saturday.
Calhoun’s last game will be is last game as a Class AA team probably
forever. The Red Devils will drop to Class A next fall and they are only a
medium size Class A team, 70 students below the cutoff line between Class AA
and Class A.
Calhoun has 267 students in the top three grades, which makes it smaller
than the entire Class AA field and two – Wheeling Central Catholic and
Tolsia – of the Class A field. Winfield is the largest Class AA school in
the state with an enrollment of 625. Keyser, also in the tournament, is the
second largest with an enrollment of 616. Other Class AA tournament teams
include Logan (582), Lincoln (518), Bluefield (505), Westside (491) and Oak
Despite enrollment sizes a school is only allowed to put five players on the
court at the same time, and when it comes down to that equation Calhoun
stacks up quite well.
Calhoun’s starters include:
Marcus Davis, 6-3 senior, averaging 26.8 points per game. He is a two-time
all-state selection and should be a three-time selection once the all-state
team is announced. He has signed to play basketball at Glenville State
College next year.
Zach Houchin, 6-1 senior, averaging about eight assists a game. He has
played the same position in different sports for the last three years.
Houchin was the quarterback on the football team and as the point guard is
the quarterback of the basketball team.
Jake Perkins, 6-3 junior, averaged a double double for the Red Devils with a
scoring average of 16.8 and a rebounding average of 12.9. Perkins is an
extremely energetic player and when he stays out of foul trouble Calhoun is
a very strong and dangerous team because he provides another scoring threat
and a strong presence on the boards.
Mike Batten, 5-11 junior, plays at the off guard position. Batten has played
some very tough defense this year and has become a threat to shoot from the
outside. He has had several three-point goals in the latter part of the
Tristan Harris, 6-3 junior, is the antithesis of Perkins at the other
forward slot. While Perkins is spectacular and foul prone Harris is steady
and silky smooth. He provides support on the board and possess a deadly shot
from the corner.
Calhoun reserves include:
Chris Sampson, 6-0 senior, would be a starter on many teams but the Red
Devils have found he is more valuable off the bench where he can provide an
instant spark anytime the team bogs down. He was only eligible to play in
the second half of the season but the team is 9-0 since he returned.
Ryan ‘Goob’ Fitzwater, 5-11 senior, had the potential to be one of the best
players in school history before suffering a near-fatal tractor accident
three years ago. He fought back from that to play football and basketball
and will continue his athletic career next fall at Glenville State College
where he plans to play long snapper. On the basketball court he is deadly
from three-point land.
Shawn Hillegas, 5-3 senior, proves it is not the size of the dog in the
fight but the size of the fight in the dog. Hillegas is often the first guy
off the bench because of his excellent ball handling skills and his ability
to shadow the opposition’s point guard.
Derek Roberts, 5-8 senior, plays amazing strong inside for his height. He
plays tenacious defense and is capable of hitting double figures is he sees
enough time on the court.
Tommy Gerwig, 5-11 sophomore, led the junior varsity team in scoring
including one game where he outscored the other team. That happened in the
Webster County game at Webster where he scored 33 to Webster’s 32. Calhoun
won the game 58-33.
Chad Conley, 6-0 sophomore, has vast potential. He is an outstanding all
around athlete and was a starter on the Calhoun football team.
In the movie ‘Hoosiers’ there was a great ending with tiny Hickory (really
Milan) winning a state championship.
Calhoun is three steps away from the same storybook ending to the saga