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December 17, 2012

GREG'S PICKS: Pirates looking for first holiday tourney title since 2009

Charlestown to try to snap five-game losing streak

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — It wasn’t long ago that Charlestown girls’ basketball was winning championships with regularity.

From 2003-2010, the Pirates won five sectional titles and dominated the Charlestown Holiday Tournament nearly every year.

Coach Tony Hall retired and — whether it was a factor in Hall’s decision or not — there was little talent left.

Enter current coach Sam Terrell. Terrell came from Evansville and suffered through two really tough seasons. The Pirates lost their first nine games under their new coach in 2010-11 on their way to a 3-18 season. Last year wasn’t much better at 4-17.

Although there was clear improvement and a lot of close contests against pretty good teams toward the end of last season, Charlestown fans had to be asking if the program was going to approach the Pirate tradition any time soon.

Again this season, Charlestown is just 2-7. It has lost five straight. However, with sophomores Justice Burdin and Kaitlynn Henning leading the way, it’s becoming more clear that there are many wins in sight.

In their last three games, the Pirates have taken very good teams to the wire. One of those was holiday tournament favorite Silver Creek. The 6-2 Dragons knocked off Charlestown 47-46 in the final seconds on Dec. 8 in Sellersburg.

But the holiday tournament is in the Pirates’ gym and they would love nothing better than to start the turnaround on Friday when they host Providence in the opening round.

Winning the opener against the Pioneers won’t be easy. Beating Sliver Creek for the title would be more difficult.

But, fear not Pirate fans, the wins are coming — and soon.

GAMES TO WATCH (TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY)

GAME OF THE WEEK

BOYS — Castle at New Albany

• Time: 8 p.m.

• Records: Castle 4-1, New Albany 4-2.

• Rankings: Castle, Class 4A No. 17 AP.

• Last year: At Castle 65, New Albany 54.

• Last 15 years: Castle leads 3-0.

• Assessment: Castle is led by Blake Simmons — son of former Indiana and Evansville star and current Aces coach Marty Simmons — who is destined for a spot on the Indiana All-Star team. The 6-foot-5 Blake, who will play for his father at Evansville starting next season, is averaging 21 points and nearly three steals and three assists per game. The Knights suffered a 66-64 meltdown loss to Evansville Harrison, which also came back from double digits in the fourth quarter to beat New Albany, from being unbeaten. New Albany seems to have found its groove after three blowout wins. This will be the Bulldogs’ first big test since back-to-back road losses to Columbus East and Harrison. I think they’ll pass the test on their way to what is looking like a nice 2012-13 season.

• Greg’s Pick: New Albany 79, Castle 75.

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