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Indiana High School Basketball

Indiana Goes to Class for the 1998 tourney

High School basketball in Indiana will never be the same

Before the 1997-1998 season the Indiana High school athletic association decided to ruin high school basketball in Indiana over the years the intensity of high school basketball has maybe somewhat decreed but not near like it did after class. Before class much had been lost, but echoes remained, too important to ignore. Teams from long-ago teams memorialized on gymnasium walls, on signs at the edge of town, on water towers in pastures and in the reveries of those who cheered, but its just not the same with class.

Many books and a movie have been made about our great high school basketball. In the book by Alexander Wolff in the book "A March For Honor: How a small Indiana town and its team helped save Hoosier Hysteria," it says: Hereabouts winters are fierce but looked forward to, for that is when bandbox gyms get stoked with body heat and fevers of spirit. Besides, you can't get to spring without going through winter, and in the Hoosier State spring is that bewitching time. It's the time when basketballs, as Grantland Rice once put it, "almost hide the sky."

"It predates IU, it predates Bob Knight, it predates a lot of things. It all began with the high schools," said Bob Hammel, the retired sports editor of the Bloomington Herald-Times and a Knight confidant who does color commentary on Hoosier radio broadcasts. "There was a state championship tournament and final four format long before the NCAA thought of it. It's a sport that fits Indiana because of the network of small towns, tiny towns, who had identification through their high school basketball team. It takes just five kids, and if five kids stayed together for a long time, they could do amazing things. It's the fit of the sport to the state that is just the seed of everything."

"Obviously Indiana high school basketball is known as something special. There is tradition," said Luke Recker. "A Hoosier is pretty much described as growing up with a basketball in his hand and shooting at the basket outside by the cornfield. Everybody has that picture in their mind. And with basketball so big, then you've got a great coach like Coach Knight ... everybody naturally is going to follow that team. That's what really got me." It's kind of one of those childhood dreams to play at Indiana and wear the Hoosier uniform," Recker said. "Especially growing up in Indiana. It was always a goal of mine to play big-time college basketball. There can't be a better place than Indiana. National exposure, national TV. Great coach, an icon. Great competition in the Big Ten. I can't imagine playing anywhere else."

People outside Indiana think that the Indy 500 is big, but they haven't seen anything, they need to spend a Friday night in the middle of winter in Indiana. "If you're searching for the essence of our sporting character, you must begin with the small towns, small teams and big dreams of high school basketball." Nothing in racing -- is bigger than the Indy. 5oo, but bigger isn't always better. And nothing anywhere is better than the state basketball tournaments in Indiana or should I say was. Indiana and Kentucky together have nine out of ten of the largest high school gyms in the nation. More in Indiana then Kentucky. I haven't been to a gym as nice as the "Wigwam" in Anderson, sure Chrysler Fieldhouse is bigger, but nothing compares to the "Indian" dance and the atmosphere. That show has been compared to NBA shows. Indiana didn't and still don't take basketball lightly, and are known to have some scandals in high school ball.

Before class basketball in Indiana, winning a sectional at a small school was a real big deal or just beating the big guys, the Marion's, the Anderson's, the New castle's, the Muncie Central's and all of them. In 1954 non-class basketball was in its best with Milan winning the state championship. Milan only had 161 students. Milan was the inspiration for the movie "Hoosiers." Legend has it that some 40,000 Hoosiers lined the way back to Milan to hail the conquering heroes. Since Milan no school with less than 800 students has won a championship, but the dream has never died in the athlete or the fan, well that was until the IHSAA did away with "OUR" tourney. "State titles, plural, doesn't sound good to me," said Aaron Ertel, a senior on the 1997 Batesville High team (enrollment 589). Pretty funny that was what most players and fans thought, but yet we still have plural state titles now. "You know what I would do if I had anything to do with it?" asked legendary Indiana high school coach Howard Sharpe, who won 759 victories in a 47-year career. "I'd make every team who surrendered to class basketball fly a little white flag."

Do you think if we had had class basketball, we would all know who Bobby Plump is? Do you think so many of our athletes from small schools would go on to play big time college ball? Do you think the good athletes would stay at the county schools?

I hate class basketball and wish it would go away. But I am afraid it's here to stay what a pity. I guess Indiana has just lost all its guts, and feels the need to cave in and make things easier on the "kids" now. Who cares what they want. The Bob Knight thing is the same. At times I am damn ashamed to be a Hoosier.

I leave this page, with some pictures of Indiana High school basketball players, gyms, and stuff.