HOONERS! - Calhoun’s Version Of The Movie ‘Hoosiers’

(03/16/2004)

By Gaylen Duskey
realfang@citlink.net

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 great drama.

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 County.

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 Glen (456).

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 season.

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 ‘Hooners.’


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