By STU SWARTZ Special to The Goshen News
---- — The 60th boys basketball sectional at historic North Side Gym in Elkhart last week produced a few odd twists and even some firsts.
Just two teams won games - Concord three and Goshen two - with the Minutemen taking the finale over the Redskins 50-45.
Both Elkhart Memorial and Warsaw were first-round losers while “bye” teams Northridge and Elkhart Central were also one and done.
Goshen won two sectional games at North Side Gym for the first time since 1989 when Coach Mike Sorrell’s Redskins downed Northridge 54-45 and Penn 73-60 before losing the title game to Memorial, 44-36.
This was also the first sectional championship game match between neighboring rivals Concord and Goshen since 1977 when the Minutemen prevailed a night after the Redskins upset Central.
Concord’s coach in 1977 was Cliff Murray who was in the crowd Saturday night, watching the Minutemen land a 13th title.
The Redskins won Tuesday night over Warsaw on a last-second rebound bucket by senior D.J. Ambrose.
That was the first Goshen-Warsaw tournament meeting since the 1969 regional championship game at North Side. The Redskins won that one in overtime, 58-54, as All-State star John Ritter had 32 points, 21 rebounds and six assists.
The first four games of the 2014 sectional - Concord over Memorial, Goshen over Warsaw, Concord over Northridge and Goshen over Central - were reversals of regular season decisions.
Literally hundreds of players have ended their careers at North Side Gym since the “Big Barn” opened in 1955 as then the largest prep facility in the USA (8,248 capacity).
The Goshen Redskins have finished 54 of their last 60 seasons at North Side Gym.
Exceptions were the 1969 semistate at The Coliseum in Fort Wayne and five sectionals at GHS from 1993-97.
Goshen has a 42-52 record in sectional games at North Side including 1-0 against Warsaw, 5-7 against Central, 3-6 against Memorial, 4-10 against Concord and 1-6 against Northridge.
Other GHS records vs. former sectional foes at North Side were Penn 6-8, Nappanee 4-1, Elkhart 2-8, NorthWood 4-0, Jimtown 3-1, New Paris 1-2, Jefferson 2-0, Wakarusa 0-1, Bristol 2-0, Topeka 1-0, Middlebury 2-0, East Noble 0-1 and Mishawaka 1-1.
The late Tony Hinkle, coach at Butler, once said, “The best player is the one who takes his team the farthest.
Using that criteria, our most valuable player for the 2014 Elkhart sectional is dynamic 5-9 senior point guard Ramon Johnson of Concord.
Joining him on our first team are 6-6 junior Filip Serwatka of Concord, 5-10 sophomore Brady Bechtel and 6-0 junior Jack Gingerich of Goshen and 6-7 senior Nate Ritchie of Northridge.
Second-team players are 6-2 senior Adam Glanders of Concord, 6-5 junior Austin Woolett of Goshen, 6-2 junior Jake Mangas of Warsaw, 6-2 senior Travion Qualls of Memorial and 6-4 senior Derald Gray of Central.
Honorable mention goes to Brett Austin and Dan McMahon of Concord, Deric Haynes and D.J. Ambrose of Goshen, Pete Smith and Sam Ahonen of Northridge, Trey Harris of Central, Jordan Stookey of Warsaw and Cam Maxwell of Memorial.
Good luck to the Concord Minutemen, NorthWood Panthers and Westview Warriors in regional play Saturday.
Here’s hoping North Side Gym returns to the Class 4A regional rotation soon. It could happen.