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Camps, Barnett helped Blunk make All-Stars

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By Larry Goffinet

It was nice to reminisce with 1989 Tell City graduate Krista Blunk last week, when she was named to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2014 silver anniversary women’s team.
Blunk was an outstanding rebounder, could score anywhere from the low post to three-point range, and is still the best passer I have seen in 35 years of covering high school girls basketball.
I vividly recall one time when she drove to the baseline on the left side of the lane and was double-teamed there. That left her teammate and first cousin, Tonya Coomer, open on the other side of the lane.
Somehow Blunk threw a Bert Blyleven curveball type of pass around the two defenders to Coomer for a layup.
So there was no doubt in my mind that she deserved to be on the 1989 Indiana All-Stars. But I’m still kind of amazed that she did make it because it’s hard for someone from a small school to get noticed if her team doesn’t go far in the postseason.
“We never even won a sectional,” Blunk recalled last week. “We were actually probably better in volleyball.”
The Marksmen did win the volleyball sectional in Blunk’s senior year (the last one they have won).
One reason they won it and not the basketball one is volleyball players don’t have to worry about fouling out. Blunk fouled out with 5 minutes left in a 38-36 sectional loss to Heritage Hills her senior year.
Statewide AAU travel teams were just coming into prominence then and Blunk did not play on one. And her family did not take out ads in Hoosier Basketball Magazine.
So how did she get noticed for the all-star team?
“I went to a lot of camps,” she said. “At one Blue Chip camp Donna Sullivan (who would coach the 1989 Indiana All-Stars) came over and talked to me. But I was totally oblivious to the fact that what I said or how I played that week might affect my chances of making the team.”
Bill Barnett, who would successfully recruit Blunk to play for his University of Evansville team, also told some key people about Blunk.
Some coaches nowadays don’t want their players involved in other sports. But possibly the first time Barnett saw Blunk play any sport was when he was umpiring a women’s summer softball tourney at Boonville and Blunk was playing for Smitty’s.
I was coaching Smitty’s and told Barnett between games that I thought Blunk could play for UE.
He replied that she looked pretty athletic at shortstop.
Possibly he had seen her play basketball before and was already interested in recruiting her.
At any rate, he started recruiting her in earnest that fall and beat out Xavier, which was then in the same conference as UE, for her services.
As a four-year starter at UE, Blunk helped Barnett earn 57 wins. So she is one of the main reasons Barnett is still in first place on UE’s all-time victory list with 124 wins for his nine-year career.
Tricia Cullop, who was a teammate of Blunk’s on the Indiana All-Stars and was also named to this year’s silver anniversary team, is second on UE’s coaching victory list with 123 in her eight years there before she left to become the University of Toledo’s coach.
Since Cullop, from North Knox, was the only southwestern Indiana player besides Blunk on the Indiana All-Stars that year, they rode together to some practices and games (they also played together in Indiana’s East-West All-Star Classic at Richmond) and still keep in touch occasionally.