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Dalrymple finally brings North Daviess to state finals

After two decades of watching neighboring schools and sectional rivals make nine state finals appearances, North Daviess is reveling in its first state finals appearance.

Class A, No. 2 North Daviess (26-3) will face No. 11 Lafayette Central Catholic (20-9) in the first of four state championship games Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Tipoff is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

“This has been a long time coming for this school and this community,” said North Daviess coach Brent Dalrymple. “It’s been a lot of fun. I tell people it’s been the most nerve-racking and anxiety-ridden fun I’ve ever had these last three or four weeks.”

Dalrymple (photo, right), who spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Shelbyville, is 315-213 in 22 seasons at North Daviess in southwestern Indiana. The Cougars are making their first state finals appearance after two decades of frustration watching Barr-Reeve and Loogootee succeed on the state’s biggest stage.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” said Dalrymple of North Daviess’ sectional field. “This is something we have watched the teams in our sectional (Barr-Reeve has been there seven times, Loogootee has been there twice since the inception of class basketball) win state championships and they’ve beaten us by two or three points in the sectional to do it.

“So we stepped back and watched these teams and thought if we could just win our sectional, we could be doing this. We’ve always thought that and had it in our mind. We just understood the blessing part of it is you prepare all season to win the sectional, prepare all season to beat those teams in your sectional. That’s the only goal we’ve had to have because we understood if you can win your sectional, you can really do some damage in the state tournament. That’s what happened this year.”

Dalrymple considers himself fortunate to be in his third decade coaching at North Daviess. A sectional title in his first year (2001) paved the way for patience in building a program that presented him with career win No. 300 this season.

“That is a credit to all of the good teams and great players we’ve had throughout the years,” he said. “We have this program where it needed to be. My very first year we won the school’s first ever sectional and this place went nuts but we didn’t have the program where we needed it to be.

“We won seven or eight games the next three or four years. Thank goodness we won the sectional that first year. I’m not sure I still would have been here. There was some patience required with where our program was. Once we got it righted and got it going, we’ve had some really good basketball teams that have been awful close to taking this step.”

The Rush County native never saw himself spending 22 years at the small school. Dalrymple’s first teaching job came at Shelbyville Middle School in 1996 when he was hired as the seventh- and eighth-grade keyboarding teacher.

“One of the reasons I got the job, during the interview I told (principal Denny Ramsey) the whole reason I got into Education was to be a varsity basketball coach and win a state championship,” said Dalrymple. “He said, ‘What did you just say?’ And I said it again. We pretty much stopped the interview and he said the job is yours if you want it. He said when you get to that point you call me and I will be there.

“I haven’t talked to Denny in 20 years and I called him this week and touched base with him. He was super excited.”

Dalrymple immediately became Shelbyville High School’s freshman boys basketball coach for varsity head coach John Heaton. And when Gary Hamner retired one year later, Dalrymple was promoted to junior varsity coach which lasted four seasons.

The goal was to be the Golden Bears’ head coach and when Heaton, a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, retired the opportunity seemed perfect.

“I was 29 years old and I wanted the job badly,” recalled Dalrymple. “I interviewed for it and they told me I didn’t have any experience and that’s the reason they weren’t giving me the job.

“That lit a fire under me that I needed to get a head coaching job so I could get what I wanted. In 2000, I moved down to North Daviess and the rest is history.”



Being the head coach at North Daviess was only supposed to be a starting point for his coaching career.

“My first couple of years, my whole goal was to get down there and get that experience that Shelbyville told me I needed and get back north around my friends and family to coach,” he said. “About year three I met a girl and it was all over.”

Brent and Tina Dalrymple have now been married 15 years and have three children – Madde (age 19), Meah (15) and Hank (11), who serves as a student manager for this year’s squad.

“I fell in love with this place,” said Dalrymple. “I realized that coaching basketball was coaching basketball. I had some opportunities (to leave). Shelbyville was open a couple of times. They called me but I just wasn’t interested. I established something here at North Daviess and I wanted to see it through.”

North Daviess has won six sectional titles and three regional titles under Dalrymple’s direction but it took an outstanding player like Jaylen Mullen (16.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and twins Lance Wilson (9.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Logan Wilson (8.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) – all three are juniors – to propel the Cougars to a 60-47 win over Jac-Cen-Del at the Seymour Semistate.

“We’ve just had a fire in us,” said Dalrymple, who also serves as North Daviess’ athletic director. “We kind of knew this group was coming. We have three juniors that have been together a long time. What separates them, we have a whole lot of talent. Jaylen is the best point guard, best basketball player, to come through here.

“They have a will to compete, the desire to win has been second to none. I have coached these guys for two or three years now and we have never, ever not been ready to play a basketball game. They are basketball players through and through. They have the heart and the toughness to get it done.”

Lafayette Central Catholic was the first Class A state champion in 1998. The Knights followed that with a state runner-up trophy in 1999 and the 2000 state championship. Three years later, Lafayette Central Catholic denied Southwestern its first state championship while capturing its third title.

This year’s team, led by head coach David Barrett (305-133 in his 17th year), has five players averaging between 7-14 ppg.

Senior Clark Barrett leads the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (10.2 rpg). Fellow senior Clark Obermiller averages 12.6 ppg and 7.2 rpg. Tanner Fields, a junior, nets 10.9 ppg.

North Daviess and Lafayette Central Catholic had one common opponent this season in Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian. The Cougars lost 48-41 on Dec. 28 while the Knights lost 70-66 on Dec. 11.

Dalrymple has stressed that his players and his community enjoy the accomplishment this week. It’s been long overdue in his mind.

“I can’t even describe it. It is the best thing about all of this,” he said. “We’ve watched our neighbors – Barr-Reeve is seven miles south of us and Loogootee is 15 miles east of us – we’ve watched those two schools and programs go to this thing and felt like we could do this and just never had. To get that done, to see our crowds the last couple of weeks and what it means to all of our folks is indescribable. Our fans and our community are so overjoyed.”