Girls basketball: CP Semistate was ‘a great day for Northwest Indiana’
By John O’Malley Post-Tribune correspondent February 23, 2013 9:26PM
Crown Point Athletid Director Bill Dorulla (left) hands the Semi-State plaque and game ball to Hamilton Heights coach Todd Windlan at Crown Point High School on Saturday, February 23, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 27, 2013 3:30PM
CROWN POINT — Tip-off for the Class A game at the Crown Point Semistate was still 45 minutes away, yet Tom May looked like a kid ready to unwrap his Christmas presents.
May, a legendary coach and Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer, coached in four state championship games during his remarkable 26-year tenure as the Crown Point girls head coach. May led the Bulldogs to back-to-back state titles in 1984 and ’85.
His teams won 442 games, 15 sectionals, seven regionals, four semistates, had a pair of state runner-up finishes, and no less than 40 of his players moved on to play the game in college.
Despite all those accomplishments, May was still overjoyed about a tradition-rich basketball program like CP, having the chance to host Saturday’s Class 1A and 3A semistate games.
“I’m so enthused. I’m so impressed,” he said. “I was greatly surprised and greatly taken back. I have a great deal of thoughts and thanks to the IHSAA and also the athletic department under the control of (athletic director) Bill Dorulla and (principal) Chip Pettit, for accepting it and having the first semistate here in the many, many years I’ve been in Northwest Indiana.
“This is a great day for basketball. This is a great day for Northwest Indiana. It’s a great day for girls basketball, and it’s a great day for Crown Point High School.”
The last time a semistate was played in Northwest Indiana was in 1944, when a boys tournament was played at the Hammond Civic Center.
Until Saturday’s Class 1A game between Fort Wayne Canterbury and Lafayette Central Catholic -- and the Class 3A matchup between Benton Central and Hamilton Heights — there hadn’t been a semistate in this area since the girls tournament began 38 years ago.
“This is a great opportunity for Crown Point,” said May, who hosted the officials for Saturday’s game.
“For many people, though, this is a lot of work. It’s a lot of effort, and a Crown Point, or local team, is not in it. There are four excellent teams, though, and t’s exciting.”
When the IHSAA offered CP the chance to host, it agreed.
“We thought it would be good for girls basketball up here,” said Dorulla, who estimated Saturday’s crowd at 2,500 fans.
“It’s nice to see a semistate in the northern part of the state and we’re privileged to be able to host it.”
When asked if CP’s rich tradition made it a natural fit for the event, Dorulla smiled.
“I think so,” he said. “I think everybody knows about Crown Point and the history here, and I think it adds a little bit to the tournament.”
Crown Point girls coach Annie Equihua — who played under May and was the catalyst in helping the Bulldogs earn back-to-back state titles nearly 30 years ago, was in attendance with her husband, Artie.
“This, to me, it’s great,” she said. “It’s great for our area. I think the region sometimes gets a bad rap. I just think it’s nice that Northwest Indiana is able to host something like this.”
Equihua’s players also worked Saturday’s games.
“Hopefully, my players are looking on thinking: ‘Wow. I’d like to be a part of this.’ Well, now, you know what? Hopefully, they’re thinking I need to work harder and I need to do this, if I want a chance to have this experience. I know, for me, as a player, you always wanted to work hard all summer, because you wanted to be able to experience something like this.”
The competitor in Equihua, however, wouldn’t allow her to watch the games without thinking about coaching in them.
“It’s great that we’re hosting it, but I want to be in it,” she laughed. “Sitting in the stands and watching is one thing, I guarantee you, though, I’d much rather have a team here playing in it. I’d love it. I’d kill to be able to have my kids, on my team, even experience this one time — just to see what it’s like. Winning sectional is a big thrill, but the farther you go — oh my God — it’s a feeling you can’t even describe. It’s nice to see the look in my kids’ eyes — they’re like silver dollars. Hopefully, they’re thinking ‘Wow.’”