photo: Shelbyville High School alumnus and head volleyball coach Sharon (Knecht) Burton yesterday congratulated Ella Johnson, new holder of the Golden Bears single-game rebounding record with 21 rebounds. Burton's previous record of 20 rebounds in a game had stood for 33 years.
Records are made to be broken, but Sharon (Knecht) Burton's single-game mark of 20 rebounds for Shelbyville High School's girls basketball program took 33 years and an outstanding performance by Ella Johnson to be surpassed. Johnson, a senior, grabbed 21 rebounds in the team's recent season opener, a win against Waldron.
Johnson knew she had a good first half, but Assistant Coach Ben Sprinkle, who keeps stats, wouldn't reveal her rebound count at halftime. "He just said to focus on the game," Johnson, who had 14 boards at the break, said.
She had no idea she was chasing the record. Head Coach Rebecca Hoefler later checked the books to confirm the feat.
"It is definitely really cool that I’ve had the opportunity to break the school record," Johnson said. "It was a good surprise and a great way to start off my senior season."
Johnson's achievement netted her a nomination for The Indianapolis Star's Player of the Week and numerous social media accolades. But given the pre-internet days of 1990, Burton, the daughter of Bruce and Edna Knecht, will have to check her mom's scrapbook for game details. "Mom did a great job with that part."
Burton also eclipsed the 1,000-point mark that year, memorable in part thanks to her uncle, Jim Knecht, who kept raising six fingers when she looked at him while the opposing team shot free throws.
"I had no clue what he was trying to tell me, so I was looking for number six on the court and, of course, there wasn’t one," Burton said.
Rather, he was attempting to convey she was just six points shy of 1,000 for her high school career. She and Uncle Jim had "a good laugh after the game," she recalls.
Burton, who graduated with Ella's father in 1990, commended Johnson for setting the new rebound mark, calling her a "hard working and great student-athlete."
Ella is the daughter of Curt and Amy Johnson. Her twin sister, Lilly, is also on the team. Her brother, Jack, graduated last year and is now at Purdue University. Her sister, Molly, is a student at SHS, and her brother, Sam, is a fifth-grader at St. Joseph Catholic School.
"It is early in the season for Ella, so hopefully she keeps pushing and can maybe push that record even higher," Burton said. "She has the ability to do it, so keep working, Ella."
Burton also commended her former classmate, who coached some of his daughters' youth teams. "(Ella) was extremely blessed to have a dad willing to give his time to support her and her teammates over the years."
The Golden Bears (3-1) return to action tonight at home against Southwestern.