If you think the multi-class tournament is killing Indiana high school basketball, the Frankton Eagles could change your mind.
Hoosier Hysteria is very much alive and well at FHS, where it comes at you in waves of red and white.
My 12-year-old son, Simon, and I were looking for a good high school basketball game to watch Saturday night, and we zeroed in on the Tipton-at-Frankton game, which promised to be a thriller.
It wasn't: The Eagles, ranked ninth in Class 2A, overwhelmed the Blue Devils, ranked fifth. (So much for rankings!)
But the experience of attending a game at Frankton was thrilling.
I used to cover some games at the Eagles Nest as a sportswriter in the early 1990s, and Frankton had good teams back then. Yet the Eagles never broke through for a sectional championship under the traditional one-size-fits-all tournament.
They finally claimed their first sectional (in 2A) a couple of years ago, and now they have one of the best small-school teams in the state. And the people of Frankton are fired up.
The size of the crowd (I'd estimate it at 1,700) and the level of excitement Saturday night easily exceeded what I remember from the 1990s, before the advent of the multi-class tournament.
Simon and I chose the Frankton game Saturday, in part, to see Indiana All-Star candidate Aaron Korn play. Feeling ill, he didn't perform well and didn't play at all in the second half. Still, the Eagles soared to a 71-41 victory.
Even without Korn at his peak, Frankton plays a captivating style of ball. Junior guard Austin Compton is a tornado in the open court, and the team has depth, size, skill and quickness. It's obvious that the Eagles are very well coached.
Simon and I particularly enjoyed watching Frankton junior twins Cameron and Conner Bates, the sons of former Highland and Anderson University guard Jeff Bates and the grandsons of former AU standout and coach Barrett Bates. I played college ball with Jeff, and Barrett was our coach.
Cameron and Conner buzzed about the court like hornets, helping harass Tipton into turnover after turnover.
The Frankton crowd loved it. The drum line and band revved them up, and the cheerleaders stirred the frenzy. Little kids, perhaps future Eagle stars, stormed the floor at halftime to pay a dollar to shoot free throws for a bottle of pop. The popcorn smelled and tasted as good as ever.
As Eagles fans will attest, Hoosier Hysteria is alive and well in Madison County.
We're pleased to welcome a new features writer, Kelly Dickey, to our staff. Kelly is a Blackford County native and Ball State Journalism School graduate. Kelly can be reached at 640-4805 or email@example.com.
Editor Scott Underwood's column appears Mondays. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @THBeditor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 640-4845.