Unique Rallying Cry Has Panthers Seeing Navy Blue

Bre Wise (30) and Kendal Miller (11) are using a disappointing end to their volleyball season to fuel a semi-state run in girls basketball for NorthWood. (Photo by Mike Deak)

NAPPANEE – It’s a memory that continues to haunt some of them. And in a weird way, the memory that won’t go away is facilitating quite a paralleled ride for the NorthWood girls basketball team.

“Yeah, we still talk about it. It still makes us pretty mad,” said Kate Rulli.

“This is not happening again. No way,” said Bre Wise.

“I think about it all the time. Still bothers me,” said Maddy Payne.

In the middle of semi-state week, a time NorthWood girls basketball hasn’t enjoyed since 2005 – when some on the team were just learning how to walk – a good portion of the roster is still focused on October 26, 2019. A date, apparently, that will live on in infamy.

Bellmont volleyball 3, NorthWood 2.

“We knew we could have gone so far, I don’t even know, we just kind of gave up at the end,” noted Rulli about the volleyball regional final loss her and NorthWood suffered to the Squaws. NorthWood led the regional 2-0 and had leads in games three and four. “I know a lot of us miss that feeling of being in that moment where we were about to accomplish our goal then giving it away. We have a big-time opportunity now with basketball, and we aren’t about to let it get away again.”

Rulli joked that she saw Knox in the regional final wearing navy jerseys with ‘Bellmont’ written on them in her mind, and she wasn’t alone. In some regard, all five of NorthWood’s varsity regulars that played volleyball in the fall also felt that way. Except this time, there was no way Knox would make them feel like they did in October.

“In the third quarter when Knox went on their mini run, we looked at each other and said this is not going to happen again,” expressed Wise. “In volleyball, we were up against Bellmont. Then we were up against Knox at halftime. We decided it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and not let that happen again.”

It’s been an interesting way for a team, which also has cross country and soccer players within the varsity rotation, to create a rallying cry. Some put it as ‘seeing red’. NorthWood’s leaders apparently are ‘seeing navy blue’. The Black Swish are in preparation for the girls basketball semi-state against Benton Central this Saturday at LaPorte. In an ironic twist, the team NorthWood beat in the volleyball regional semis, Northwestern, is playing Penn in the Class 4-A game right after NorthWood’s 3-A game. On the bottom half of the 3-A basketball bracket is Brownstown Central, which played and beat Bellmont in the volleyball state finals.

“Sometimes, just the experience and being in the moment is enough,” said NorthWood head coach Adam Yoder. “These girls have been in regionals before, including the soccer players two years ago. There was a lot of nervousness in our regional, but a lot of excitement and confidence. If we just do what we know we can do, that should carry us.”

Does Benton Central take over as ‘Bellmont’ this weekend? Wise was pretty absolute.