ARGOS – There will be a strong connection for Kosciusko County come Saturday in the IHSAA State Finals for girls basketball in Indianapolis.
Gary Teel, the former girls coach at Tippecanoe Valley High School, will lead his Argos squad into the Class 1-A state title tilt.
Teel and his No. 6 Dragons will face No. 2 Jac-Cen-Del in the state championship contest at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the Circle City.
The personable Teel is sure to have plenty of area support come Saturday too.
Teel, a 1967 graduate of Mentone High School where he played both basketball and baseball, spent 12 seasons as the Valley coach. He put together a 158-110 overall mark during that time, guiding the Vikings to five sectional championships. Teel resigned as Valley coach in May of 2010.
Teel, who is a retired teacher, guided the Vikings to a 61-23 mark in Three Rivers Conference play during his tenure in Akron. His Valley teams won TRC championships in 2002, 2007 and 2009. The Vikings went 22-3 during the 2002-03 season and 21-3 in the 2003-04 campaign, losing in the regional finals each of those years. Valley was led those two seasons by star Rebekah Parker, who was an Indiana All-Star in 2004 and went on to have an outstanding collegiate career at Evansville University.
Argos, which boasts a 24-3 mark, will make its first-ever State Finals appearance Saturday. The team is just the second in school history to reach the State Finals, joining the 1979 Argos boys basketball team.
The Dragons have had a remarkable run this season under Teel, who is in his fourth season there. Argos was 13-10 a year ago, but has prospered with the return of four starters from that team.
Argos is led by standout Courtney Dunlap. The 5-9 junior guard averages 17.8 points, to go with 6.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game for the Dragons.
The Dragons also count on Valerie Rospopo, one of three seniors. The 5-5 guard averaged 11.6 points-per-game. Sophomore guard Macee Strycker averages seven points-per-game, while 6-2 senior Kaelyn Barlow averages 6.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per outing. Junior Kennedy Binkley rounds out the starting lineup for Argos. Mariah Lineberry is the third senior for the Dragons.
Argos ranks second in the state in points allowed per game at 32.6. The Dragons have lost this season to Michigan City Marquette (53-31), Oregon-Davis (76-29) and John Glenn (53-48).
Jac-Cen-Del, which is located in Osgood in southeastern Indiana, has won 14 straight games since its lone loss to Class 3-A Indianapolis Attucks by a 58-54 count way back on Dec. 29. The Eagles, who were 24-4 last year, claimed its eighth straight sectional title this year. Jac-Cen-Del then beat No. 8 Bloomfield (43-37) and No. 5 Tindley (66-47) in the regional and No. 1 Vincennes Rivet (46-43) in the semistate.
The Eagles feature a balanced offense and allow just 35 points-per-game on the defensive end. Lilly Simon, a sophomore guard, leads the team in scoring at 12.4 ppg. Junior forward Rosie Newhart averages 10.4 points and seven rebounds per game, while senior forward Jordan Day averages 9.9 ppg.
Jac-Cen-Del coach Scott Smith is in his 15th year at his alma mater. The 1982 Jac-Cen-Del graduate is just one of three players in school history to have scored at least 1,000 points and grabbed 500 rebounds in their prep basketball careers.
The Argos-Jac-Cen-Del game on Saturday will be televised by WHME-TV (Channel 46) at 10:30 a.m.