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January 14, 2013

HUNTER: Under the radar

SELLERSBURG — I often think that the local high school scene doesn’t get the respect it deserves away from this part of the state.

The players and coaches are often left out of talk or debate about the best in the state. I will take many of the players around here through the years over many other players throughout the state.

As for coaches of boys’ basketball, the names of Doc Nash at Borden and Lou Lefevre at Providence are often mentioned in the same breath as David Benter at Brownstown Central and Tom Bradley at Orleans and deservedly so.  Nash and Lefevre have had unprecedented success at their respective schools, and their teams are competitive each year.

However, there is a coach that I faced that I think is under the radar when it comes to good, young coaches — New Washington’s Jon May.

I know, I can get online and see his overall record isn’t anywhere near as good some of the coaches in the area, but I don’t care about those things. Maybe I would care more about that if the coach was inept and not a good coach, and I know results are the bottom line for many people.

But what Jon May has done at New Washington, well, I am not sure anyone could have done better.

This is no slap on the New Washington basketball program at all, I mean, Nash, Jamie and Scott Matthews, Shannon and Matt Arthur, Jamie Jones, Jon Cain and, well, May himself have not walked through that door since 2001. (Vincent Minton and Devin Freels had a couple of nice teams. I think they might have ended our season one year at Henryville.)

What Coach May has done is grow up and play for the legendary coach at NW,  Jim Matthews, soaking up every bit of knowledge he could from the coach that deserves to be in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

May does things similar to Jim Matthews, but also differently, which all coaches do. He now has a childhood hero in Scott Matthews working in the building to help coach at the lower levels, and May is a New Wash guy who has given so much time and effort to his hometown.

Coach May’s teams are prepared for each game. If they don’t play well, it isn’t because of lack of effort by Coach May and his assistant, Darrin Dickey.

During my coaching tenure at Henryville, May was one of the coaches you knew who would scout you so hard that when you verbalized a call, he and his assistants knew what the call was and was ready to counteract it.  

May’s players are always fundamental and understand the game, relatively speaking. Sometimes they haven’t been capable to get it done, not due to lack of leadership, but lack of talent compared to the teams on their schedule. (Twenty-three wins in 2001, the Mustangs didn’t top that number again total until the 2008 season, and that had been done through three different coaches — Jim Matthews, John Howell, and May.)

No matter what has happened, the NW players have always played hard and competed and that said a lot about the coaching staff at NW in that it keeps the players motivated.

I recently attended one of the Mustangs’ practices and I can see now as a fan why NW teams are so fundamental and prepared. Coach May and his staff are meticulous in preparing for the next team on their schedule, and the players do what is asked, for the most part, I mean, they are kids.

May uses all of the right motivational tactics that any coach would use and is thorough in his preparation. After this weekend, the Mustangs moved their record to 6-7 on the season.

Yes, that isn’t exactly an overwhelming record, but see above and realize what a great job both the coaching staff and players are doing, now if they can get over the mental part of striving for more than just “good enough.”

If I lived in New Washington, I couldn’t think of a better coach for my son to grow up and play for.

May is not only a good coach, but a good son, husband, father and excellent role model for the young men at New Washington High School.

Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at coachperryhunter.blogspot.com.

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