There was a familiar face patrolling the sidelines on Tuesday night as Bloomington North played at Brownstown Central, and it wasn’t anyone on the home team Braves’ sideline.
Jeff Turmail, head coach of the Cougars, attended Brownstown Central High School and played under boys head coach Dave Benter.
Turmail was a part of Brownstown’s 2009 team that advanced to the 2A state championship game against Fort Wayne Bishop Luers. Even though the Braves came up short in that game, their photos and state runner-up trophy are still showcased at BCHS.
“A lot of great memories from playing here,” Turmail said, “and it’s always nice to come back and see family and friends living away in Bloomington. It’s not too far, but it is unique.”
It didn’t take long for Turmail to get into the coaching.
The now fifth-year Cougars head coach always loved working with kids, and his passion for coaching started while he was in college.
“I had a lot of great experiences doing that,” he said. “Being able to get into coaching right away at college coaching middle school teams while student-teaching and being able to coach the Columbus North freshman team for two years.”
Turmail is a proud BCHS alum, and there’s always some extra familiar faces when his Cougar team gets to play inside The Pit.
“The crowd is certainly people you know, even a lot of their fans and stuff,” Turmail said. “It’s always a fun experience win or lose. We’re so focused in trying to do what we can to try to build a program in Bloomington North. Just being able to come over and compete tonight was a great experience.”
The game itself was a good one.
Bloomington North held a 13-9 advantage after the first quarter before Brownstown took the lead back 25-22 heading into halftime. The Braves extended their lead to 10 after the third quarter, but the Cougars clawed their way back in it in the final frame before Brownstown was able to prevail 48-44.
“Really proud of our team with the way we hustled and competed,” Turmail said.
“I’m looking forward to a couple more years of playing against Brownstown. It’s not so much the place, but their program, they do a great job of executing and making you play great basketball. We didn’t do enough to get the win, but credit to them.”
Brownstown head coach Brandon Allman had similar praise for Turmail and the job he’s done at Bloomington North so far.
“Credit to Bloomington North,” Allman said. “First off, they’re well-coached, former Brownstown graduate at the helm for them. They really got after it and pressured us. Their length had a lot to do with our struggles.”
The win improved the Braves to 11-11 on the season and dropped the Cougars to 9-10 on the year.
Turmail’s team has three games remaining on the schedule before the postseason begins, and he’s liked the promise the Cougars have displayed over the course of this season.
“I think we’re showing a lot of signs which is what you need to be showing at this point,” Turmail said. “We talk about eliminating mistakes and tonight we had six turnovers. Talk a lot about rebounding. A lot of our offense is predicated on getting really good looks from the 3-point line. They weren’t falling the way we’re used to, just being able to continue to fight to the very last second, you need to be able to put yourself in those situations.
“Honestly, we won a lot of really close games. I know we have a really good opportunity the rest of the way against really quality opponents. Of course, hosting our sectional this year is really big deal for us.”
Hosting the sectional is always an advantage, but even when the Cougars don’t play at home and go on the road, Turmail likes to appreciate all the special venues across the Hoosier state, and Brownstown is included in that list.
“Just being able to come back and play at Brownstown, or earlier this year at the Hoosier Gym, or in the summers playing in great sights to play at, it’s always fun,” he said. “I know it’s fun for the girls to get experience.”