Shootin’ the Stars: Single-class basketball is gone, but the weekly top 20 lives on

Shootin’ the Stars: Single-class basketball is gone, but the weekly top 20 lives on

Freshman guard Madisyn Douglass drives the ball to the hoop for Caston in a game this season.

By Mike Beas

Caston’s girls’ basketball program loosens the dirt on new historical ground pretty much every time it runs onto the court.

The Comets won their first 17 games this season, lock down opponents to a ridiculously stingy average of 27.1 points per game and feel they have the makings of a team capable of finishing February inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

In the latest Class 1A poll, Caston sits at No. 1.

However, in the weekly Indiana Basketball Coaches Association top 20, they are standing on the porch, fist curled, preparing to knock on the door as one of a handful of squads falling into that “also receiving votes” category.

In another era, this would be generating tremendous theater in and around Fulton County.

Supporters of the small school with the Rochester mailing address would be hurriedly leafing through the pages of their newspaper’s sports section early each week to see if Caston, a school of 234 students, slid into the No. 20 spot. Or, even better, No. 18 or 19.

Now, not so much.

“We do look at it, at times,” said fourth-year Comets’ coach Josh Douglass, who knows something about small-school turnarounds after his first Riverton Parke team went 3-17 (2008-2009) and then was 144-75 over his final nine seasons at the school, a run highlighted by a Class 1A semi state appearance in 2012.

“But I guess I don’t share it with the girls as much as I do our coaches. From a coaching standpoint, I just try to focus on the next game. If we get back to playing the way we were earlier in the season, I believe we have the pieces to make a deep run.”

The weekly coaches’ poll for both girls and boys is the 20 best squads from the state as a whole. Every one of the four classes.

It is, for better or worse, one of the final remaining remnants of single-class basketball, which closed the book on generations of buzzer-beating drama after the completion of the 1996-97 season.

Of the 403 schools in Indiana that offer girls basketball, Caston is No. 342 in terms of student enrollment. The school finds itself wedged between a pair of Tri’s in Tri High School (No. 341) and Tri-Central (343).

Residing in the IBCA top 20, whether for a week, two weeks or the remainder of the regular season, would be something special for a program that has won one section in its history, and that, ironically enough, was under the one-class umbrella (1984-85).

In other words, it still has its place as a connector to the way things used to be.

“Basically, for the basketball fans, AP (Associated Press) does its rankings by class, Jeff Sagarin does his rankings, and we do ours,” said former Ben Davis boys basketball coach Steve Witty, a two-time state champion who now holds the role of IBCA Executive Director Emeritus. “It gives them three different polls they can look at.

“I don’t know how many people actually look at (top 20). Some of the small schools, I would think they would like to see where they rank with the bigger schools.”

The fine line separating receiving votes from actually having a number next to one’s school is thinner than dental floss.

Fittingly, should Caston’s girls garner such status, there will be smiles.

(Our Excel H Sports Indiana Girls Basketball rankings January 14, 2024)

Excel H Sports Indiana Girls Small School rankings, January 14, 2024 – Excel High School Sports

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