ANDERSON, Ind. — It’s a veritable hoops renaissance.
After four years of upheaval and displacement, the conversation surrounding Anderson High School basketball has changed. Instead of focusing on the past, the Indians are looking toward the future.
Madison County tournament championships by both the boys and girls teams this week are the most tangible signs that things are coming together nicely in the refurbished building on Main Street.
“We’ve always said it really didn’t matter where we play,” Anderson boys coach Joe Nadaline said. “It didn’t matter what uniforms we wore, they were always going to say ‘Anderson’ across the front. The Anderson High School tradition is the same, and it’s always going to be the same.”
That sense of unity and purpose has been a significant key as the Indians have grown into a new identity.
When Highland High School closed four years ago, it did more to divide the community than to bring former rivals together. Anderson Community Schools lost students to neighboring systems inside and surrounding Madison County.
There were bitter disagreements about how to move forward, and when the Wigwam closed a year later the gulf between the two sides grew larger. As the debate raged on, the kids who remained at Anderson bore a heavy burden.
Athletics can play a large role in how a school is perceived by outsiders, and the Tribe was falling behind many area competitors. That was especially true where it matters most, playing Indiana’s game on the hardwood courts.
Chad Cook was the final girls basketball coach at Highland, and he was building the foundation for a solid program. When the schools were consolidated, he inherited an Anderson team that had finished 2-21 the year before and not all of his Scots made the leap with him.
But Cook focused on what he had to work with instead of what he’d lost. The Lady Tribe improved to 9-13 in his first season and made a surprising run to the sectional championship game. By the end of Year 2, Anderson was a sectional champion.