1. IPFW beats Indiana in Bloomington: The Mastodons beat the Hoosiers for the second straight year – by 20 points on IU's home court.
2. Saint Francis' second consecutive NAIA football title: The Cougars go undefeated in repeating as national championship after winning the program's first title a year before.
3. Homestead wins Class 4A state girls basketball title; Karissa McLaughlin gets Miss Basketball: The Spartans beat Indianapolis Pike 61-54 in the championship, and then Purdue-bound standout guard grabs state's top award
4. Former Elmhurst, Indiana University and NFL receiver James Hardy drowns in the Maumee River: Body found is identified as Hardy's, with coroner ruling it was a suicide less than two weeks later.
5. Bishop Dwenger's Chris Svarczkopf retires as football coach: After 40 years of coaching football, 15 as the head coach with the Saints, Svarczkopf decides to step aside from the profession.
6. Canterbury wins Class A boys soccer state title; Concordia advances to state finals: The Cavaliers win their sixth state championship with a 2-1 win over No. 1 Covenant Christian, while the Cadets fall in their state finals debut, 2-0 to defending state champion Evansville Memorial.
7. Homestead graduate and Purdue star Caleb Swanigan drafted in first round: The former Mr. Basketball is picked No. 26 by the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA draft.
8. Fort Wayne downtown arena idea shelved: The midsize arena/event center in the heart of the city is idled by the city after cost estimates continued to rise.
9 (tie). North Side boys basketball team finishes second in Class 4A state finals: The Legends lose halftime advantage and succumb to Indianapolis Ben Davis 55-52 in the championship at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
9 (tie). Churubusco boys basketball team wins first-ever sectional after 99 years: Father and son, Chris and Jalen Paul, bring the school's first-ever sectional championship in almost a century of existence.
While there was less drama surrounding the IPFW men's basketball team's Dec. 18 win over Indiana University, chosen as The Journal Gazette's 2017 Story of the Year, there's still great significance to the win for the Mastodons.
The win was the result of the most complete 40-minute performance the Mastodons have put together this season and proved that last year's overtime win at Memorial Coliseum wasn't a fluke, despite the eight newcomers to the IPFW roster this season.
“Last year was more about our city and our university and, yes, we took some confidence from it as a group and it helps with recruiting and building and all that kind of stuff,” coach Jon Coffman said. “This year's win was that stamp of it wasn't a fluke and it was on the road.
“Probably not like last year because it was such a dramatic end last year, and they were nationally ranked. But it was a quality win on the road, in Assembly Hall, by 20, and that's where road wins are hard to come by. It's been a few years since we got a 20-point win on the road. Those don't come very often when you put someone away like that.”
In the win, the Mastodons had 19 assists on 31 made baskets with 17 3-pointers, tying an Assembly Hall record for an Indiana opponent, and the Mastodons just did a better job of executing their own processes.
“Going up there and the way that we played for 40 minutes and the way we dominated, that was our best game so far,” said Kason Harrell, who scored a career-high 28 points in the win. “Our guys were just locked in from the time we got off the bus to the time we got back on the bus, we were just so focused and ready to go.
“The coaches did a good job preparing us with one day, and we only had one day to prepare for these guys coming off our game against Stetson. The way they were able to prep us, and the way we were ready for everything that IU tried to throw at us was good. It was just a great feeling.”
Coffman and the coaching staff preaches to the team about “being us” and the positive outcomes that will come with that. The win over the Hoosiers provided a perfect example that will be referenced throughout the remainder of the season, regardless of opponent.
“It was a game where we just were really good at being us,” Coffman said. “We didn't have any heroes in the game. The closest that we had would have been (forward) Dylan (Carl) making those (four) 3s. That wasn't out of character, though. No one took shots, made plays that aren't plays that we don't see in practice, but we stacked details in that game. That's what we talk about in our locker room all the time. We showed ourselves yet again, when we are us and we attack being us for 40 minutes and we are hunting a perfect effort toward stacking details for 40 minutes, we're pretty dang good.”
The win not only changes the confidence level of the team, but it changes the perception of how others will view the Mastodons, especially heading into Summit League play this week.
“Every team we play for the rest of the year, 'Hey, I want to beat the team that beat IU by 20,' ” Coffman said. “Just like last year, 'Let's beat the team that beat IU as ranked No. 3 in the country.' You become the hunted more. It changed our team profile from, 'Hey, they have some talented returners coming back, a bunch of newcomers, they're a good team when they're playing in rhythm.'
“We're not going to surprise anybody. That becomes the challenge when you have big wins like that and we saw that last year and it's a light bulb for us, but it's a spotlight for other teams. Now it becomes a big win for other teams and now that's what we have to combat for the rest of the season.”