As we head into 2020, here are some facts, hopes, possibilities and thoughts, as well as a Happy New Year to those of you who follow us in the Noblesville Daily Times:

I’m entering my 56th year in the sports writing business. I’ve pretty much been there and done it all; seen so much, marveled over many exciting finishes in high school and college sports; and I’ve been blessed to meet many great athletes and coaches and to be able to write about them and their teams.

I grew up in the business under a veteran and gifted sports editor at The Kokomo Tribune. He used to take pride saying he loved his profession, that he was blessed to be working in his favorite vineyard.

Likewise . . .from 1963 as a sophomore at Kokomo High School to now as I prepare to enter yet another decade, I cannot imagine doing anything else. I’m also doing what I love in my favorite vineyard!

Hopefully good health and an ability to continue coming up with things to write about, including reminiscing, will remain a dependable sidekick.
I’ve always been amazed with the ability of athletes who can deliver such great scoring feats in basketball.

I got thinking about some of top individual records I’ve either seen or heard about.

The latest one to come our way was delivered by Hamilton Heights junior Gus Etchison. He scored 56 points against the Mt. Vernon Marauders earlier this month. That effort broke the Hamilton Heights single-game record of 54 points, which Rick McCoskey held since 1971.

So where does that 56-point performance put Etchison, who averages 26.6 points per game, among some other great performances, especially in Hamilton County?

Carmel brothers Billy and David Shepherd had great senior performances on their way to earning Indiana Mr. Basketball recognition.

Billy scored a state-record 70 points in a 1968 regular-season game. Two years later, David scored 66 points in a regular-season game. 

Most of us so-called old-timers, I’m sure, remember David scoring 40 points in the 1970 championship game of the state finals that year. 

Of course, David’s final-game record came in the single-class tournament. In 2008  Washington’s Tyler Zeller scored 43 points in the state championship final game in the Class Basketball tournament. So both records in different times!

LOOKING BACK ON 2019 SEASON:

It was quite a championship year for Hamilton County teams.

*—Hamilton Southeastern recorded a pair of Royals firsts. The Lady Royals won the Class 4A IHSAA state basketball tittle, and the boys brought home the 4A state baseball plaque.

*—Carmel won the state boys basketball championship, producing the school’s best single-season record ever at 26-1, and the Greyhounds also won the state football championship. Both teams were state runners-up the previous season.

*—Noblesville’s girls soccer team won the school’s first 3A state soccer championship.

*—Carmel’s girls splashed to their 33rd consecutive state swimming title, and the Greyhound boys won a fifth successive state swimming championship.

*—Carmel won its third straight boys tennis title.

*—The Carmel boys made it two state golf championships in a row.

*—The Carmel boys also won a second straight cross-country championship.

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEW YEAR:

*—The Lady Tigers are off to a14-0 start in basketball. It’s the school’s best start since Fishers High school was re-established as a high school in 2006. Coach Lauren Votaw’s fifth-ranked squad is idle until a Jan. 4 game at Fort Wayne South.  . . . Coach Matt Moore’s Fishers boys basketball team is also unbeaten this season. The Tigers were 7-0 going into the Dec. 27 Bedford North Lawrence holiday tournament.

*—Two other Hamilton County basketball unbeatens: Coach Justin Blanding’s University Trailblazers (14-0) play in the Bishop Chatard tourney on Dec. 30.  . . .  and Coach Shane Sumpter’s Westfield boys are also enjoying the holiday season with a 6-0 record. The Rocks don’t play again until Jan. 4, when Victory College Prep pays a visit.

*—Hamilton Southeastern’s Sydney Parrish, who has scored 313 points this season, now has 1,620 career points. She passed former girls career leader Taya Reimer (1,374), and then No. 2  Gary Harris (1,552) among the boys. Zach Gunn is the school’s all-time leader with 1,660 points.

By the way, Parrish, the 2019 Indiana Gatorade Player of the year, also ranks second in the state in scoring this season with a 26.1 average.

*—Hamilton Southeastern has won three boys basketball sectionals, all coming at The Mill in Noblesville. The Royals last brought home the sectional plaque in 2014. Hmmm….

Keep in mind that Fishers boys and girls teams have defeated both HSE teams this season in close, competitive overtime finishes.

The Fishers boys have never won a sectional. Could this be the the Year of The Tiger?

And don’t overlook Westfield, led by sophomore scoring phenom Braden Smith. Actually the Rocks’ top three scorers are only sophomores. Smith is averaging over 23.7 points. Nick Depasquale and Cam Haffer are averaging 13.3 and 10.7 points, respectively.

As usual, the sectional tourney draw could play a major role in both outcomes for both the boys and girls.

*—Best of luck to recently named Noblesville varsity football coach Dave Sharpe. He brings a lot of experience and knowledge to a program that is desperately looking to produce some positive results. 

Ironically, the former LaPorte coach served as defensive coordinator at HSE this season for Adam Morris, a former assistant football coach for the Millers three years ago. Shape, by the way, is the son of former Jimtown coach Bill Sharpe, who won three Class 2A state championships at Jimtown. Bill Sharpe retired in 2008 with a 277-53 record and  an incredible .839 winning percentage. Dave obviously comes from good genes.

This looks like it could be a positive hire for the Millers Nation!

IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS:

Several Hamilton County student-athletes were 2019 Fall Sports nominees for the IndyStar Sports Awards.

Noblesville juniors Jenna Chatterton and Sara Kile played key roles in the Lady Millers’ 3A state soccer championship victory. Chatterton scored a team-high 13 goals and added 14 assists. Kile had 48 saves, allowed only 7 goals and recorded 7 shutouts

OTHER COUNTY NOMINEES:

GIRLS 

Golf — Senior Jocelyn Bruch, Westfeld; Senior Katie Kuc, Carmel.

Soccer — Senior Kelsie James and junior Erin Bake, Carmel.

Volleyball — Delaney Garner (first-team all-state selection, Hamilton SE). She helped the Lady Royals to HSE’s first state finals. She also had 316 kills and 112 blocks on the season.

BOYS

Soccer — Sophomores Palmer Ault and Spencer Holland, Noblesville.

Tennis — Presley Thieneman, Carmel. The senior won the IHSAA state singles title, going unbeaten on the season (26-0) and helped the Greyhounds win the team state title . . . Jones McNamar & Uday Lomada, Carmel: The duo finished the season unbeaten en route to the doubles state title.

Hopefully, Hamilton County student-athletes will fare well when the individual fall winners are announced!

*—Mark Morrow, a Hall of Fame Indiana sportswriter, has resided in Hamilton County since 1989. You can follow him in The Times, and on Twitter at mmediamarko12. He can be reached at mediamarko5@gmail.com or by calling 317 460-8018.