Argos celebrates girls hoops history in alumni game, but current Lady Dragons prevail
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ARGOS –- The Argos girls basketball program celebrated its history with an alumni game at Phil Weybright Gymnasium last week.
And some of the players were not named Dunlap.
The current Argos players edged the alumni 49-46 in a competitive game that wasn’t decided until the final half-minute
Lizzy Edmonds made two free throws with 25.9 seconds left to put the current team on top 47-46.
After a timeout, the alumni team set up a play for a potential game-winner, but Edmonds blocked Courtney Dunlap’s shot on a drive to the hoop, and the ball got kicked out to a wide open Samantha Redinger, who dropped in a transition layup as time expired to give the current team their three-point final margin.
The alumni had taken a 46-45 lead when Val Rospopo flipped in a reverse layup with 38 seconds left.
Former Argos coach Gary Teel coached the alumni team, and Eugene Snyder was his assistant.
Eleven former players played for the alumni, including Madi VanDerWeele, who just graduated within the last six weeks and who will be playing at Manchester University, and four players from Argos’ 2016 Class 1A state runner-up team: Dunlap, the school’s all-time leading scorer; Rospopo; Abby Manikowski; and Emily Calhoun.
Current JV coach Karlee VanDerWeele, a 2013 grad, also suited up for the alumni as did former Argos assistant coach and 2009 grad Kelsie Hollabaugh.
Courtney Dunlap’s younger sister Morgan joined more recent grads Kalei Carlton, Emily LaFree and Macy Morris.
“I had been wanting to put an alumni contact list together,” current Argos coach Scott Jennings, himself a 1982 Argos grad, said. “There’s girls that weren’t here that should have been here. And hopefully, we can get a better list together. I think it’s just a good thing for the community and for the girls to come back and be on the home floor again.
“It’s the relationships. That’s what I want to build. You see the varsity girls out here talking to the alumni and seeing how they play a little bit. There are some darn girls out there who were on some really good teams for coach Teel and coach Snyder.”
The game featured Madi VanDerWeele going up against many of her former teammates and Karlee VanDerWeele playing against many of the girls she currently coaches and also drawing a guffaw during an awkward landing on a move to the hoop in the first half.
The alumni gave up a back cut and a layup to Redinger on the first possession and retreated into a 2-3 zone for the remainder of the game. It worked in the second quarter, when the alumni held the current team to six points and grabbed a 21-16 halftime lead.
The alumni led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter and still led 44-38 in the fourth when a 3-point play from Bollenbacher, a smooth turnaround jumper from Edmonds and a Stults bucket gave the current team a 45-44 lead.
Teel coached Argos from 2012-18. He never had a losing season in those six years, and in addition to the 2016 team that was the state runner-up, he also coached the 2017 team that won 22 games and a sectional title.
Teel said Snyder and Manikowski had asked him if he wanted to coach the alumni team. LaFree was the only girls with whom he was unfamiliar.
“We didn’t do a lot of coaching,” Teel said. “We’re just going to sit there and enjoy being on the bench and talking to the girls.”
The current team had newcomers Morgyn Barcus and Aleasia Sarver. They had junior Allison Zahm, back after missing last season due to injury. And they had varsity veterans like Edmonds, Redinger, Bella Stults, Sophie Bollenbacher, Carleigh Miller and Emma Dunlap.
Dunlap times three
Emma Dunlap, who will be a junior in the fall, wound up guarding both of her sisters. That essentially meant that the pupil was guarding the teacher as Emma said Courtney taught her how to play in the family barn barn years ago.
“It was really competitive,” Emma Dunlap said. “We play one v. one all the time but not in front of a crowd. So a lot more nerve-wracking.
“We’ve been trash-talking each other all week. I couldn’t lose to them because I have said a lot of things, and I had to back up my words.”
As it turned out, the alumni had been scrimmaging against the current team all summer behind closed doors, according to the Dunlap sisters.
“Scott Jennings wanted to get a group to scrimmage the high school team, so he reached out to a couple recent alumni and asked us to come in and scrimmage, and I was one of them, and I figured it would be a good workout for me, so I came in and did it,” Courtney, a 2017 grad, said.
Morgan, a 2020 grad, said she wasn’t sure if she wanted to come back given that her career ended on bad terms with the coaching staff late in the 2019-20 season before Jennings was hired.
But Courtney convinced Morgan to play.
“Courtney was like, ‘We need more players, more subs,’ because they’re out of shape obviously,” Morgan said. “She kinda convinced me to play.”
Was it fun?
“Yeah, I totally enjoyed it,” Morgan said. “Just to make the present players better, that’s what I’m here for.”
The help from the alumni is appreciated, according to Emma.
Scott Jennings wasn’t hired until August 2020. The pandemic limited most school’s summer activities last year and that most teams are typically done with their summer activities by August.
So the games against the alumni, both the formal one last week and the informal ones that have been taking place all summer, have helped.
“Last summer, we didn’t really have any summer basketball because we didn’t have a coach yet,” Emma said. “This summer has helped us play together.”
Teel said he recalled some of the current Lady Dragons playing at his basketball camps when they were in elementary school. He said that quite a few of them have developed their skills and have showed promise.
Teel said he appreciates all the players that he coached during the six years. He said his wife Julie and his grandkids became attached to the players over time.
He said the players brought back “sweet memories.”
“They’re just a big part of my coaching career and the success we had there,” Teel reflected. “They’re just a very important part of our lives, and we care a lot about them, and we’re just interested in how they do in life.”
Alumni and current Argos girls basketball players convened at Phil Weybright Gymnasium for an alumni game on July 8. The current players won 49-46.
From left, sisters Courtney, Emma and Morgan Dunlap participated in the Argos girls basketball alumni game at Phil Weybright Gymnasium July 8. Courtney, the school’s all-time leading scorer, is a 2017 grad. Emma will be a junior this fall. Morgan is a 2020 grad.