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HBCA needs to get its act together or disband

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By Larry Goffinet

The Hoosier Basketball Coaches Association was formed in 1985 with some noble goals. But it hasn't achieved them very well lately because of a lack of organization.

Though it has Hoosier in its name, the HBCA covers only roughly the southern half of the Hoosier state.

It was formed to get more attention focused on players from that part of the state.

Most knowledgeable longtime fans know that many worthy Southern Indiana players have been overlooked when Indiana all-star and all-state teams were picked. So beginning in 1989 the HBCA decided to sponsor its own all-star games each year.

Tell City's Krista Blunk was a starting forward for the West team in the first HBCA girls all-star game April 23, 1989.

The starting center for her team was current University of Evansville Coach Tricia Cullop from North Knox.

Blunk and Cullop both played for the Indiana All-Stars in the Indiana vs. Kentucky series that summer.

They both also played for the West team in the first Indiana East-West all-star game that year.

But playing in the HBCA game didn't help them make those other all-star teams, as those teams were named before the HBCA all-stars were announced.

In fact the Indiana East-West Classic was played in Richmond one day before the HBCA game was played in Jasper (which made for a busy weekend for Blunk and others who played in both games).

Still the HBCA publicity didn't hurt Blunk or any of the other four Indiana all-stars who played in the HBCA girls game that year.

It was a nice consolation prize for those who didn't make other all-star teams and gave them a chance to be scouted by several college coaches as well.

I covered the HBCA game at Jasper that year and recall it as being fairly well organized.

It had corporate sponsors, McDonald's and Gus Doerner Sports, to help put on a good show.

But organization has been lacking for the games in recent years.

Last year they were played on Easter Sunday, which undoubtedly reduced their attendance and media coverage.

Two Tell City boys did get to play in one of the games last year (beginning in 2002 the HBCA held two boys games and two girls games each year so more players got a chance to participate), though at first they were not chosen because the HBCA said Tell City boys coach John Hayes had not sent in his membership.

Hayes told HBCA officials that he had not received any letter requesting HBCA dues that year and that he always joined such organizations when he did receive a notice.

So Logan Wooldridge and Evan Watts were added to the District 2 team.

This year the HBCA has apparently gone back to one all-star game for girls and one for boys.

But it still named 10-player all-district teams for each gender in each of its four districts.

When that was the case in the 1990s, the District 1 and District 2 players were invited to two tryout sessions to determine who would make the West all-star team, as having 20 players on one team would be unwieldy.

One Tell City boy who participated in those tryouts said he felt most of the all-star players had already been picked beforehand, but at least they went through the pretense of tryouts.

This year a letter Tell City girls coach John Lyons received listed the players who "have been voted to the District 1 and 2 all-star teams."

Tell City point guard Kara McClintic was listed on the District 2 team.

But another page listed 12 girls who "will be invited to play in our 2008 all-star game."

McClintic's name was not on that list. But a few days later Lyons received a letter saying she has been chosen to play in the game.

The original letter said that Lyons, as District 2 Coach of the Year, and Vincennes Lincoln's Jason Lane, the District 1 Coach of the Year, would be "invited to participate in our 2008 All-Star Classic as a coach of the West girls team."

It did not say which would be the head coach or say anything about the decision to go back to just one all-star game for each gender this year.

There was no release to the media, and when I e-mailed Kevin Smith, the one who contacted Lyons, for information he did not reply.

Smith's letter to Lyons said the game will be held at the Evansville Basketball Academy April 20. This is the first year it has not been held at a high school and I wonder how many fans will know where the EBA is.

Smith's letter also said, "The girls game will begin at 1 p.m. EST." I have no idea why EST was listed when Evansville is on Central time.

The bottom line is the HBCA needs to put out more organized publicity for its games or just do away with them.