Girls basketball

HILLARY SMITH: Not every shining moment needs a soundtrack

2013-02-24T21:30:00Z 2013-02-25T00:12:05Z HILLARY SMITH: Not every shining moment needs a soundtrackHillary Smith Times Columnist
February 24, 2013 9:30 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | The Class 3A girls basketball teams at Saturday's Crown Point semistate weren't in attendance of the region's boys basketball sportsmanship banquet last week.

But their moment of sportsmanship was enough to bring tears to their coaches eyes.

In the last 13 seconds of what had been a close, hard-fought game, the winner was secure. Hamilton Heights would go to the Class 3A state title game to face Mount Vernon.

While that much was known, coming out of a timeout, Benton Central was preparing to dump its reserves and pull its starters. That's when coach David Baxter walked out to the top of the key, waving his hands to tell his fans to stand.

The Bison student section was on its feet. The parents and community was beginning to rise to salute the seniors that had reached their second semistate game in three years.

Before Baxter could even reach one of his players, the Hamilton Heights athletes on the floor were already embracing Benton Central's starters in hugs.

Hamilton Heights and Benton Central haven't met before in the postseason and haven't played each other in the last four years.

Some know each other from AAU ball, but it's not as if these are teams that fight season after season for the same wins.

It was a pure, unplanned moment of sportsmanship that Baxter couldn't talk about after the game without replaying the emotion.

"That was a mind-tingling moment, it's hard not to be emotional about it," Baxter said. "(Hamilton's Heights' Dakota) Weatherford and (Benton Central's Caitlyn) Tolen know each other, so there's a mutual respect there."

Coach Todd Windlan heads a Hamilton Heights team that is clearing its own path through the record books with its first regional win in school history, and first semistate win that leads to the first state appearance.

"We've preached all year that we play hard, but we play with class and sportsmanship," Windlan said. "We play until the horn sounds, but in that instance right there, our kids were a class act and I thought his kids were a class act."

In the moment that had nothing to do with basketball, the hugs on the Crown Point floor had more to do with being a human.

The Hamilton Heights seniors were facing a deficit in the first quarter that put their season in jeopardy. Once the calendar turned to Feb. 5, the clock started ticking down for the class of 2013.

When Baxter's seniors finally sat on the bench, the delay allowed to happen by the officials who took in the emotion as well, two had scored 24 points each in their team's 69-58 loss.

Certainly basketball doesn't always need a soundtrack, but this can be credited as a shining moment.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at

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