Horn and Barton to officiate 1st boys state finals


Montgomery County will be well represented this Saturday at the IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. While no area team will be playing for a chance to capture a state title, two local officials will be getting the opportunity to officiate their first Boys Basketball State Finals games. North Montgomery graduate Jeremy Horn got the assignment for the Class 3A game while Crawfordsville Athletic Director Bryce Barton got the nod for the Class A game.

The assignment for Barton while it’s his first boys state finals will be his second overall state finals as back in 2022, Barton officiated a girls state finals game.

For Horn, the call came after nearly 20 years of being an IHSAA official. The journey for Horn is not only special due to him finally getting the call after two decades, but also because his late father in-law Terry Bartell was the one who got Horn into officiating.

“He pushed me to get better and made sure that I had my nose in the rule book,” Horn said of Bartell. “If it wasn’t for him getting me started, I wouldn’t be here doing it today. All three of us son in laws (including Charger girls basketball coach Ryan Nuppnau), have really carried on Terry’s legacy. Ryan getting to coach, me getting to officiate and the other son in law sells insurance which is what Terry did as well. He’s the one that took me to my first varsity basketball game as an official and we got to work the game together. That’s a memory that I’ll never forget.”

When that call did come from IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Brian Lewis that Horn would be officiating his first state finals, it was a phone call that every official in the state works towards and only a few get to see that dream become a reality.

“You just don’t know when or if that call will ever come,” Horn said. “You just have to keep your nose to the grindstone and that’s what I’ve been doing. Being an official is all about giving back to these high school athletes. Now that the time is almost here I am getting a little excited about it. I know that I’m going to get to enjoy the day with my wife and kids being in attendance. They’ve really been my rocks throu8gh this entire process. They come to so many of my games and to have them there with me is going to be pretty special.”

For Barton, he knows the hard work student athletes put in as being an AD. The chance for them to get to showcase their skills in a phenomenal venue like Gainbridge, is something that he notes is special to the Hoosier State.

“The IHSAA does a great job of putting on all of their state championship events and basketball is no exception,” he said. “The fact that these student athletes get to play their state finals in a professional arena is awesome and we are very fortunate to have that opportunity in the state of Indiana. Overall we had 13 officials from the Western Indiana Officials Association working the semi-state round this year and we have so many great officials that I’ve been able to learn from over the years.”

Horn also took the opportunity to speak for his fellow officials who are often heavily criticized by fans.

“We know our job is difficult,” Horn said. “We’ve spent thousands of hours and miles with the same guys talking about so many different situations. I can’t tell you how many clinics and camps I’ve been to just so that I and everyone who goes can get better. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes and it’s more than just showing up to games and going home.”

To round out his comments on his first state finals selection, Horn said how he is going to just try and absorb as much as he can throughout the day.

“The atmosphere is going to be electrifying,” he said. “You’re going to have thousands of fans and my family and referee buddies there to support me as well. It’s going to be an awesome day and I’m just going to try and make the most of it.”

Baton made sure to tip his cap to Horn as well for the work he’s done to get to have this opportunity.

“I’m super happy for Jeremy because he’s simply one of the best and has done it the right way to get this chance,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have him in Montgomery County.”

The Class A game will feature 23-7 Bethesda Christian taking on 18-9 Fort Wayne Canterbury. That game is slated for an 10:30 a.m. tip with the 3A game being between 24-5 Scotsburg and 20-9 South Bend Saint Joseph and that is slated to tip off at 6 p.m.