Earlier this season, we asked readers to jog their memories and come up with some memorable Batesville boys basketball games in honor of the Bulldogs’ 100th season.
Here are the next entries in our top 10 countdown.
8. (Tie) Batesville 45, Connersville 41 (March 3, 2006)
Batesville 64, Connersville 53 Overtime (March 2, 2007)
Behold, the great Bulldog-Spartan Wars of the early 21st century!
This area rivalry went back decades as Batesville fed into the Connersville Regional at Spartan Bowl, the two often vying for advancement in the state tourney.
Longtime Bulldog coach Melvin Siefert was going through a short dry spell when it came to sectional titles. His team lost to Rodney Klein’s Spartans in the 2005 sectional.
The arrival of freshman Colt Ryan in 2005-06, however, ushered in a three-year period that had the Dogs winning three sectionals and two regionals.
Klein had his own future Indiana All-Star in 6-foot-8 Matt Howard, a throwback presence in the lane both offensively and defensively.
The Spartans had won nine straight before meeting BHS at the 2006 Greensburg sectional; CHS was ranked No. 2 in Class 3A and Batesville was No. 3 with an identical 19-2 record.
Howard blocked five shots in the first quarter as Sparty went up 8-0. The Bulldogs came back to lead 22-20 at the break. Each side scored 10 points in the next frame.
A 4th-quarter basket by Derek Foster put BHS up for good at 36-34. Ryan led the Dogs with 15 tallies and Howard was held to just 10.
Batesville defeated Rushville 58-51 to move to the New Castle regional, when Danville ended the run, 69-62.
Almost a year to the date later, the Bulldogs and Spartans met in strikingly similar circumstances. Sporting the same 18-3 records and gracing the top 10 of 3A rankings, the schools squared off at the Knights’ Den at South Dearborn.
In a tight game, CHS went into the fourth quarter up 32-27. Still nursing a 3-point lead late, Howard fouled out at the 16-second mark, finishing with just 13 points. Alex Grimsley hit 1 of 2 at the line before a Spartan turnover seconds later.
Down by two, Ryan nailed two foul shots to force overtime at 47 apiece. With Howard sidelined, the Bulldogs exploded for 17 points over the next four minutes, scoring the first seven of the extra session. Ryan (22), Grimsley (19) and Alex Siefert (17) accounted for 91% of BHS’ offense. Sixth man Ryan Henderson led CHS with 15.
The Dogs got by Greensburg in the final, 56-41, then captured the N. Castle regional with an 83-73 win over Indianapolis Howe and 85-65 blowout of Brebeuf Jesuit (Grimsley 28, Ryan 24). At Seymour’s semistate, BHS ran into Evansville Bosse, falling 87-78.
Ryan went on to become Batesville’s all-time leading scorer, a title he still holds. Grimsley played two seasons with the Kent State Golden Flashes. As for Howard, he would have much kinder months of March with the Butler Bulldogs. Butler made the NCAA national title game in both 2010 and 2011, Howard becoming a household name to college hoops fans.
The BHS-CHS rivalry continued Jan. 25 at Batesville, with the hosts winning 47-43. The two could possibly meet at this year’s sectional, hosted by Connersville.
7. Batesville 45, Jac-Cen-Del 44 (March 5, 1976)
In the semifinal round of the Batesville sectional in the year of America’s Bicentennial, the host Bulldogs found themselves in a dogfight (pun intended) with their Ripley County neighbors to the south, Jac-Cen-Del.
Coach Paul Ehrman’s boys held a slim 17-14 lead after the first period of play. A 7-0 Batesville run in the next stanza helped the home team to a 27-24 advantage at halftime break.
The Dogs padded their cushion to nine and played stall ball to preserve a 35-28 lead heading into the final quarter.
JCD’s Tim Koger sparked an Eagle comeback that featured a 10-1 spurt and reclamation of the lead at 38-36. Three lead changes ensued, with Jac-Cen-Del holding a 44-42 edge with 1:09 remaining.
Over the next minute, the teams combined to make just 1 of 6 free throws. JCD’s Billy Vankirk missed the front end of a bonus and Marty Enzinger answered with 1 of 2 on the other end. BHS senior forward Dan Kerker missed an attempt at the stripe, but he would redeem himself very soon. With 16 ticks left, Koger misfired twice at the line.
A shot by Dan Brinkman was off the mark, though the Bulldogs earned another possession when the Eagles turned it over on an errant pass. With time running out, Kerker took the ball to the rim, drew contact and subsequent referee’s whistle.
With no company between himself and the basket, and zeroes on the clock, Kerker calmly sank both free throws to send BHS into Saturday’s final.
Kerker and Enzinger each had 11 points, while Koger and center Charles Whalbring scored 12 each for JCD.
The Dogs defeated Milan in the title game (69-58) behind a monster 31-point effort by Kerker.
At the Connersville regional, Batesville had a date with the Aurora Red Devils, who had topped the Bulldogs in the Ripley Co. tournament finals and also owned a 100-54 win over BHS.
In the rematch, the Dogs trailed 50-39 late but scored nine straight in the last two minutes and had Enzinger at the line for a chance to tie. Marty made the first but couldn’t get the equalizer as Aurora advanced 50-49. Mike Smith led the losing effort with 13.
Rushville destroyed Aurora in the championship, 86-45, to move on to semistate. There, the Lions defeated Richmond before falling to Bill Green’s Marion Giants in the state contest.
Kerker has stayed active in local youth sports, refereeing hoops for over 25 years and coaching Oldenburg Academy’s girls for nine seasons. He’s currently OA’s head softball coach.