Runyan was 4-time regional champion at PCJune 5, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
Adrienne (Seitz) Runyan can remember those days very well — growing up on a family farm with an older sister (Tracy) and a younger brother (Adam). It was there that the 1995 Pike Central graduate learned what it meant to be hardworking and determined, where the three of them were all expected to do their part, and where Adrienne also honed her basketball craft.
Adrienne was kind enough to answer questions sent by The Herald via email.
“We spent a lot of time playing ball in the driveway or in the barn loft,” Adrienne wrote. “Our dad (Jim) spent time working with us and rebounding for us. We begged Dad to pave the driveway for us because we had to play on rocks, which made dribbling difficult. He told us we’d be better ball handlers if we practiced on the rocks. There may have been some truth to that.”
Tracy and Adrienne were teammates together in 1991-92 when the former was the team’s only senior and the latter was a freshman. Adrienne praised her older sister as a great senior leader for the team who worked hard in practice and set a good example for everybody else. The rest of the Chargers, in turn, had confidence in Tracy.
Pike Central went 10-8 during the 1991-92 regular season. Both of the Seitz sisters played in all 18 games, and both of them averaged a team-high 15.3 points per game. Adrienne thought the Chargers had an offense that wasn’t designed for one person to carry the load scoring-wise.
“Tracy was usually our go-to at crunch time, as she could usually score when needed,” she said. “I do recall several teams focusing on heavily defending Tracy that year. So, I’m sure that opened things up for me offensively.”
The Chargers had already won two straight sectionals heading into 1992. They got past Northeast Dubois and Forest Park to set the stage for a showdown with Jasper on Feb. 8. The Wildcats got the better of the Chargers, 52-50, on Jan. 16, and stood in the way of a Pike Central three-peat.
The championship was close, another two-point affair just like it had been not even a month before, but this time, the outcome was different. Adrienne notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, helping her team squeak out a 43-41 victory. The Chargers didn’t score in the last two minutes, and Adrienne missed a late one-and-one.
However, Pike Central ran numerous defenses, such as man-to-man, zone, full court, half court and trapping. Adrienne told The Herald that the Chargers changed it up quite a bit during each game. She was named the MVP of that year’s sectional.
“It was a nice honor to be named MVP of the sectional my freshman year, but the sectional championship meant so much more because it took all of us to win the championship,” Adrienne said. “We were a fairly young team. So, I don’t think many people thought we could pull it off.”
The Chargers were also going for their third consecutive regional championship that year. They made it into the title game after surviving a defensive game with Boonville, 28-25. Pike Central was now one win away from a third consecutive regional championship, but Evansville Harrison hoped to be the spoiler.
Pike Central trailed, 34-33, with 6:35 left in the game, but the Chargers went on a 9-0 run after that, with Adrienne capping it off with a jump shot. They rolled to a 52-42 victory, and Adrienne won another championship with her sister.
“Being able to play one year with my sister Tracy was a great experience, and the fact that we were able to win a sectional and regional championship together was just icing on the cake,” she wrote.
For the Chargers to win a semistate championship, however, they’d have to get past a Bedford North Lawrence team ranked No. 2 in the state. The Stars handed it to the Chargers, 98-26, during the regular season. Adrienne remembers the defending state champions having relentless full court pressure and that the Chargers couldn’t even get the ball past half court.
Adrienne remembers asking Tracy what the score was when she came in at halftime because she was so busy turning the ball over that she didn’t even have a second to check the score.
It’d be nowhere close to a 72-point loss this time, but it was a loss nonetheless. Bedford North Lawrence won the game, 67-51. Pike Central turned the ball over 18 times, shooting 35 percent in that game and went 22 of 34 at the free throw line. The Stars finished state runner-up to Kokomo that year.
Adrienne and the Chargers were just getting started, though. She never saw herself as a scorer, despite scoring 1,480 points in her high school career. Adrienne merely saw herself as having a quick first step, leading her to drive for easy baskets off of Pike Central’s defense.
Still, she averaged a team-high 16.7 points per game during the 1992-93 regular season. They started four sophomores that year: Adrienne, Angie Blatnic, Lori Evans and Michelle Russell. The youth movement propelled Pike Central to another regional championship.
“In addition to having a great coaching staff, we worked hard and played with confidence,” Adrienne wrote. “The four sophomores had played together since the sixth grade, and we were well balanced. If someone had a bad game or if teams focused on one or two of us, the others would step up, which I think made us difficult to defend. We took pride in our defense and loved pressuring our opponents from start to finish.”
The Chargers ran into another foil at semistate, however. They had the task of trying to slow down Abby Conklin, whom Adrienne called one of the best high school basketball players she ever played against. Conklin scored 33 points and went on to play for legendary coach Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee.
“I’m pretty sure we could’ve thrown just about anything at her and she still would’ve been tough to contain,” Adrienne said.
Then-Pike Central coach Steve Barrett told The Herald, according to a Feb. 22, 1993, article, that his Chargers didn’t take care of the passing lanes when Conklin got the ball, despite doing everything they could to stop the future Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer.
Beth Hatt was Pike Central’s only starting senior, and led her team with 16 points. Adrienne was limited to two points in the 52-35 loss.
She thought the best team she played for in high school was her junior year of 1993-94 because of the path they took. Russell, who averaged 10 points per game heading into the sectional championship against Northeast Dubois, proved to be integral with a 28-point performance to give the Chargers a 65-43 win against the Jeeps and their fifth straight championship.
Barrett told The Herald, as reported in a Feb. 14, 1994, article, that Adrienne had been struggling. However, she found a way to break through with 18 points in the regional championship against Pocket Athletic Conference rival Heritage Hills with a 54-43 win for a fifth consecutive regional championship.
However, Pike Central ran into another tough opponent at semistate in Columbus East. Adrienne scored 18 points, and Russell had nine while dealing with a back injury. The Olympians went on a 5-0 run to end the game after engaging in a 38-38 tie with the Chargers. Columbus East ran away with the championship with an 82-55 triumph against Scottsburg.
Adrienne broke her wrist in the late part of her senior season. She told The Herald she tried to take a charge and put her hands back to break her fall. Adrienne was worried it would be a season-ending injury.
“Thankfully, I was able to play with a padded cast, and while it hindered my dribbling some, I think it actually helped my shooting some as I had a bad habit of letting my left hand cause my shot to rotate incorrectly,” she wrote. “I did a better job of keeping my left hand out of the way with the cast when shooting jump shots and free throws.”
She continued to be a scoring juggernaut when she scored 21 in the sectional championship against Jasper, and dropped 24 points on Evansville Mater Dei in the year’s regional championship, scoring half of her team’s points for the 48-39 victory. Adrienne scored 12 of those points in the third quarter. The Chargers won their sixth consecutive regional. They also were clutch at the free throw line, going 12 of 15 in the final quarter, and Adrienne was 8 of 9.
However, it was the same old song and dance for Adrienne and the Chargers. She went 67-25 in her prep career, but four of those losses came at semistate, and she never made it to the championship. Eighth-ranked Washington turned Pike Central back, 69-52.
She could not answer why the Chargers never got over the semistate hump, since the teams they met were solid from top to bottom.
“I wanted to win a semistate so bad — even one game would’ve been a step in the right direction,” Adrienne said. “We just couldn’t get over that hump.”
Still, she was honored to be a regional champion all four years in high school, and Adrienne made memories she deemed “priceless.”
Adrienne was not heavily recruited out of high school, however. She didn’t see herself as a great outside or free throw shooter. However, she got the opportunity to play at the next level when she signed with the University of Southern Indiana, getting her wish to stay close to her family.
She attended a basketball camp at USI the summer prior to her senior year, and it took no hesitation on her end to accept a scholarship when the Screaming Eagles offered her one. Adrienne still believes to this day that USI was where she was meant to be.
It was a big adjustment for her with the commitment she had to put in both in the gym and in the classroom. She had to be disciplined in getting in the gym and the weight room, and always had to compete for her spot on the team. Academics were also a big commitment, and she had to learn the best way to manage her time.
She wasn’t heavily recruited, and she may have had to put in a greater deal of time towards her basketball career, but Adrienne found a way to make it work. She played in 120 games and set the single-game, season and career assists records while playing for the Screaming Eagles.
“I didn’t do anything magical to set up my teammates at USI,” she said. “Fortunately, I was a decent ball handler and was fairly tall for a point guard and played with players that could run the floor and flat out score. They made my job easy. I just needed to get the ball in their hands and they took care of business from there.”
Adrienne obtained her degree in business administration and has been with Indianapolis Power & Light for 16 years. She spent time in Indianapolis before wanting to move back to Southern Indiana. Adrienne considers herself fortunate that her current employer had a job opening where she could apply her degree.
Basketball remains a part of her family, as she is married to Gibson Southern boys coach Kyle Runyan. Adrienne believes it’s an interesting experience being married to a coach, as it presents its challenges.
She does not anticipate she will be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame as an individual, but the Hall of Fame still included her on its 2020 Women’s Silver Anniversary Team, which she felt very honored to have been selected.
“I was once asked, ‘What advice would you offer a young person just beginning to play the game?’” Adrienne wrote. “My answer is — I would advise young people to enjoy every moment of it, as it goes by so fast. Cherish the opportunities and give it 110% every day. Be a great teammate and have great sportsmanship. Remember, you are representing yourself, your family, your school and your community.”
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