I grew up in Anderson, Indiana, the hotbed of hotbeds when it came to high school basketball, especially during my youth in the 1970s and 1980s.
I religiously attended games at the Wigwam to cheer on Norm Held’s Indians and after we moved to Indianapolis just prior to my freshman year of high school, I continued to follow the red and green, particularly since many of my classmates, like Troy Lewis, a teammate of mine at North Side Middle School, were playing in the second largest high school gymnasium in the world.
There truly was nothing like showtime in the Wigwam. After all, how could you beat 7,000 season ticket holders and a jam-packed venue of 9,000 night in and night out … for HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL?
I was truly blessed to grow up in a place where basketball was a religion.
As I got older, I was able to continue my passion for the game by covering it for two decades as editor of Purdue’s Gold & Black Illustrated.
I got to travel coast to coast and even to Anchorage, Alaska, Maui and the Virgin Islands to cover some of the best players and teams college basketball had to offer. Oh, and I also, got to cover the 2001 Rose Bowl featuring Drew Brees, about a dozen bowl games, the 1994 NBA Draft that saw Gary’s Glenn Robinson selected as the No. 1 overall pick, and a number of NCAA Tournament and Big Ten Tournament games at several different venues.
I was also in press row for the memorable IHSAA state championship game that pitted Gary Roosevelt and Robinson against Indianapolis Brebeuf and Alan Henderson.
Plus, I covered the final single-class high school basketball Final Four for the Indianapolis’ Star’s new website called Indiana’s Game.
Even with all those aforementioned memorable experiences under my belt, I have to admit I’m really looking forward to being in attendance at tonight’s Glenn at Oregon-Davis game.
No, The Den in Hamlet won’t have a crowd of 9,000 looking on, but you know an overflowing crowd will be jamming the place.
If last year’s environment when these two teams met at Glenn is any indication of what’s on tap, we’re in for a very special evening.
Sure, it’s only a regular-season game and these two teams could very well meet, and should, later this month in the Bi-County Tournament on a neutral floor.
But this has all the ingredients of a classic.
You’ve got the defending Class 1A state champions in Oregon-Davis battling an undefeated team from the neighboring county that is hoping beyond hope that it’s having a season that will be remembered for generations to come.
You’ve got plenty of the area’s best players on display, too, from Lexi Minix to Loren Vukovits to Taylor Kranenberg to Kyler Columbia.
You’ve got a head coach with 300-plus wins and a pair of state titles in more than two decades at O-D and one that hasn’t been at Glenn five years yet, and has turned the program around, arguably enjoying one of its most successful two-year runs ever.
Perhaps best of all, you’ve got fans that sleep, breathe and eat basketball 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
They will bring it, so will the players and coaches.
Yes, no doubt, tonight’s festive atmosphere in the quaint Oregon-Davis’ gym will be one they should make a postcard from, and one I can hardly wait to be a part of.
Hoosier Hysteria at its finest!