Boys Basketball Feature

Fountain Central Basketball: A tradition of winning


VEEDERSBURG - Years ending in “3” are becoming the best of years for Fountain Central.

The first boys basketball sectional championship came in 1973.

The only state football championship came in 1983.

There is another sectional hoops championship in 2023.

There were smiles everywhere Saturday night on Dave Sanders Court, from FC players only minutes after cutting down the nets, to guys from the ‘73 team, who recalled cutting down nets in that same gym 50 years ago, to coaches who remembered exactly why Mustangs coach Greg Dean said “a sectional is hard to win.”

The Wall of Champions gets an extra line after the Mustangs won the 11th sectional championship in school history. This team, with 22 wins, one away from tying the 1990-91 team for most in school history, has the banner folks already busy after winning the first outright conference title in 32 years and Bi-County tournament in 34.

What this team really wants now, and all the rest are crossing fingers for, is a line on an empty banner.

There are no regional championships.

In fact, there is not a win in a regional game in the 10 previous trips.

Think it’s hard to win a sectional?

It’s steeper and even harder the rest of the way.

“It’s a great feeling - surreal actually,” said Mustangs senior Mason Larkin, who has been a four-year factor on the team, along with fellow seniors Luke Foxworthy and Isaac Hehmann. “It’s a great win, but we have more to do.”

“The mission’s not over,” Foxworthy added.

Saturday’s schedule was as much written on the fly due to a power outage in the area Friday. The two semifinal games were pushed into Saturday morning and noon, with the championship game re-set for 8 on Saturday night.

Considering that Indiana high school tournament history has three games on Saturday since they threw balls into peach baskets, the new schedule probably made purists ecstatic.

Not so much for the nuts and bolts folks running the action.

First was making sure that everyone scheduled to work Friday night could make it back early Saturday.

Most could, although FC football coach Herb King, who has done a lot of radio and TV work, was pressed into PA service for the morning.

The ticket takers and janitors all were in place at 9 in the early morning when the doors opened. The nice ladies in the hospitality room even had semi-smiles on their tired faces.  They got a break though, as the BBQ and soups in the crock pots only needed to be reheated. Nobody got much of a break, however, as everything had to be done over for the night session. The bleachers got a quick mop-down, pizza arrived at the hospitality room. Even the referees were figuring out what to do. A nap in the teacher’s lounge was a leading candidate since they all came from a good distance. A working TV with some afternoon college games on was a big plus.

The participants had some serious re-scheduling as well.

The winning teams, Rossville and the Mustangs, had to find places to go and things to do for a few hours until the championship game.

Easy enough for the FC guys and coaches - they just went to regular locker rooms or went home for a few minutes. “I got a little nap, and ate,” Larkin calmly noted. “We had a team meeting with the coaches going through the Rossville scouting report.”

Foxworthy said they even watched the Rossville win over Faith Christian on video.

What about the Hornets?

A 90-minute bus ride from home made that option worthless, and remember, things only got canceled about 12 hours earlier. Not much time to make new plans.

The answer was just down the road.

“We have a really nice youth center at Sterling Christian Church,” said Rob Bowers, who is the clock operator at FC games, and a member of the church. “There are couches and plenty of room for the guys to stretch out, get a nap or just chill. The Rossville parents made arrangements for food for the guys, and they went over there, about a five-minute ride away.”

Both teams appeared rested enough as a close, back-and-forth championship game kept a crowded gym noisy.

In the end, it was the home Mustangs prevailing, with a trip to Frankfort for the regionals next up on Saturday.

The happiest non-player or parent was FC Athletic Director Jason Good.

Good, who coached Fountain Central’s boys teams to three sectional titles, including the last one in 2015, was on the pointy end of the spear getting everything ready with the change of plans. He was quick to note and thank the many people who stepped up to do a lot of work in a short amount of time.

But, he was also looking forward.

“I can’t wait for next Saturday,” he said. “I get to go to Frankfort and just cheer for these guys! It’s been so busy, but I’m so thrilled for the kids, for the parents, for Coach Dean and the program. It was just great watching them go around and hugging their parents, their grandparents. I won a sectional as a player at Rossville, and I remember that more than any other thing. It’s always a special part of my life, and it will be for these guys now.”

One guy doing a lot of hugging wasn’t a grandparent, but has a close family connection.

Coach Dean’s father, Max, was all smiles as he made laps around the celebration.

Max was an assistant coach on the ‘73 FC team, and won his own sectional while head coach at Indian Creek in 1978. He also owns a very nice ring that is given to coaches for their 200th win by the Coaches Association.

“I remember last year,” he said. “I knew that this team could have a special year if they put the work in, and they have. They have accomplished three goals in winning the Bi-County, the WRC and now the sectional. We didn’t lose a game on this home floor this season. I’m here to yell and not get in the way. I’m just so happy for Greg and the team.”

Jerry Quirk, a member of that ‘73 team, was on the floor as the nets were coming down.

“We won that championship by four point also,” he said, giving the exact 64-60 score and the win over Covington. “Our fans flooded the floor, and I got a ride on some shoulders.”

Considering that Quirk was about 6-5 and good-sized, we can guess it was some football players.

“We had five guys in double-figures, and it seems like yesterday sometimes,” he continued. “After 50 years, I still have people stop by to talk about it and remember. I’m so happy for this team and the kids. It’s a dream come true in some ways, and we are all so proud of their efforts and wish them well next week.”

Greg Dean, now a two-time sectional coaching champ after winning one at Wes-Del in  2007, spread the happiness around.

“Our fans are fantastic,” he said, after the pep rally following the game, which followed the net-cutting, which was followed by a caravan around the Greater Veedersburg area. “Our community has been superb, our students, our parents, staff and faculty. It’s a tremendous moment for Fountain Central basketball. The way this team has come together and become a family is our strength. We combine our talents for a common goal.”

That next goal, and the open line on the wall, awaits in Frankfort on Saturday, as the Mustangs take on Liberty Christian. In a twist of Indiana hoops, Liberty Christian is the team Coach Greg Dean defeated while at Wes-Del for his other sectional title.


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