Story by Tristan Jackson
Kenneth Groth, Brent Falkenstein, P.K. Falkenstein, Kasey Falkenstein and Kooper Falkenstein — the Falkenstein family has been churning out Jeff High basketball greats since the 1930’s.
Brent’s son, Bailey, is next in line.
Bailey has been playing on the Varsity team since his freshman year. Now a junior, he is the team’s top scorer (18.9 points per game) and has solidified himself as a leader.
“There’s definitely some pressure there,” Falkenstein said about being a top scoring option for Jeff. “But I have to do it for my team.”
With guard/forward Michael Minton being Jeff’s lone starting senior this season, Falkenstein has stepped up and made strides in his own game. He has become a role model for underclassmen, who have also played a large role in the team’s success this year.
“It motivates you to want to elevate your game and get to the level he is at,” said sophomore Drew Taylor on playing with Falkenstein.
Since Falkenstein’s freshman year, the team has seen constant improvement. After a 2014-15 season that saw Jeff only managed an 8-14 record, new head coach Joe Luce was brought in to return JHS to its winning ways. Last season, the team posted a 19-13 record in Luce’s debut.
“Bailey has gotten to the point where not only is he a fantastic scorer and a go to guy for us,” Luce said. “He has learned to make others better around him, and I think that’s why we’ve been able to play better basketball.”
Along with the excellent skillset Falkenstein brings to the floor on a nightly basis, a winning mentality is something he prides himself on.
“I just want to be remembered as a great player who won. That’s really what I want to bring to Jeff — winning,” Falkenstein said.
In the hotbed of basketball talent in southern Indiana, Falkenstein says he is motivated by hearing what other players are doing on the court, and believing that he is just as good, if not better, than every opponent he faces.
A lack of confidence has never been an issue for Falkenstein, as he feels his work ethic has put him in position to not only be a leader on the basketball team, but to also headline a star-studded baseball team at Jeff.
“Bailey is always showing leadership by getting people focused, giving constructive criticism, and letting others know when he made a mistake,” said pitcher, and teammate, Gabe Bierman.
Falkenstein looks for both teams to have great seasons this year and next, and said his goal for the upcoming baseball season is to win a state championship.
Additionally, Falkenstein credits all athletes for finding the time to balance school and a sport. Although it’s difficult to put the work into two different sports, he says sports helped make him a better person and “the man (he is) today”.
As talented as he is on the court, it’s hard to imagine Falkenstein choosing another sport over basketball in the future, but it’s very possible.
Falkenstein is one of the team’s top baseball players, and he believes that he is talented enough to wind up playing professionally at some level.
While leaning towards baseball, where he has already received Division I offers from schools such as Indiana and Xavier, Falkenstein said this basketball season has opened up the possibility of playing basketball in college.
Whatever way he chooses, it’s likely his talents will carry with him to college, along with his work ethic and sense of leadership.
For the time being, Jeff fans will cheer on yet another Falkenstein from the stands as he carries on a legacy that has been over 80 years in the making.