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Hornets overcomes stings to have successful season

Hornets overcomes stings to have successful season

By Mark Ambrogi

The Beech Grove basketball team began the defense of Class 3A state title with a new head coach and the transfer of its leading scorer.

Assistant Joe Rihm took over as head coach after Mike Renfro resigned in August following an arrest for driving while intoxicated. Senior Anthony Ball, who averaged 15.8 points in 2021-22 season, transferred to Decatur Central.

This team set a goal at the beginning of the season of making it back to Gainbridge,” Rihm said of the state title game. “We talked in preseason that everyone outside the gym had different expectations, I told the boys we will hear the doubters but to keep the blinders on and focus on what is ahead of us this season.”

Senior Jeremiah Alexander lead a balanced scoring attack for Beech Grove. (Photo by David Defro Dixon)

The Hornets (17-7) fell just short off their goal. They won sectional and regional titles before losing to Guerin Catholic March 18 in the semistate opener. After losing three of four games in January, Beech Grove won 10 of its last 12 games.

“Losing those three games early in Janury reset our focus on the rest of the season,” Rihm said. “We learned more from those games about ourselves. We focused on those things for the rest of the season to prepare us for a run in the tournament.”

Jeremiah Alexander led the team with a 12.6 scoring average, followed by Jeremiah Tate at 12.3, Jaleel Edwards at 10.0 and Cam Brown at 9.0 points.

Beech Grove’s Cam Brown cuts down the net after the team won its regional championship. (Submitted photo)

“This team played for each other all season,” Rihm said. “The balance is what made it tough for teams to prepare for us, because if they take one away we still have others that would step up during games. The scoring balance goes back to us talking about ‘together’ and playing for the guy next to you.”

The team benefited from a heavy senior presence.

“They held each other and the younger players accountable,” Rihm said. “Our eight seniors that have been through the program and had the level of success they have now sets the standard and the expectations for the future of Beech Grove basketball.”

Beech Grove celebrates its 2023 regional basketball victory. (Submitted photo)

Rihm said a tough schedule against several Class 4A teams, including unbeaten Ben Davis helped.

We deliberately set a tough schedule to get us ready for March,” Rihm said. “In doing so it prepares us for different situations during the tournament.

Alexander said the team did play better the final half of the season.

Brown. (Submitted photo)

“I believe we started to come together a lot more and our chemistry continued to build,” Alexander said. “I am extremely proud of all of our guys and how we managed to put stuff behind us and focus on ourselves as a team.”

Brown agreed the Hornets made strides.

“I believe that we were starting to share the ball a lot better and trust our teammates a lot better during that time but I don’t believe that we were playing our best basketball,” Brown said. “I don’t think we had a game all year where I thought we played our best basketball for a full game. If we put a full 32-minute game together of our best basketball then I
believe nobody can beat us. Although we had high hopes of repeating I am still very proud of our groups achievements. Beech Grove basketball is super special and will forever be that way after winning the school’s first state championship my junior year.”

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