By Scott Underwood
The Herald Bulletin
Most years, I attend the Indiana state high school boys basketball state finals in Indianapolis. I used to do this with a friend or two. We’d sit in the stands at Bankers (nee Conseco) Life Fieldhouse through the four championship games, analyzing the talent on the floor and strategies on the sideline.
While the one-size-fits-all approach of the traditional tournament drew statewide attention like a magnet, I like the four-class system better. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a small town, North Manchester, and played for a small high school that never made it past the regional of the traditional tourney.
Anyway, on Saturday I took my son, Simon, to the high school state finals. It was his second go-around doing this; the first time came two years ago when he was 9 years old. Seemingly, the only thing he remembers from that trip in 2011 is eating at Scotty’s Brewhouse in downtown Indy between sessions (the Class A and 2A finals are over by 2 p.m.; the Class 3A and 4A session starts at 6 p.m.).
This time around, we saw some great basketball. In Class A, Borden High School, from the area near Louisville that was struck by tornadoes a year ago, defeated Triton.
I feel a connection to Borden. My brother was the varsity coach there for a few years in the early 1990s. He had an excellent team that would have had a chance to win a small-school state crown. But that was before class basketball, and his team got shellacked by mighty Jeffersonville in the sectional.
The Class 2A game Saturday was won by Gary charter school Bowman Academy over Linton-Stockton. Bowman Academy had some great athletes, and Linton-Stockton was one ball-handler short of dealing with the Eagles’ pressure defense.
Between sessions, Simon and I went to Scotty’s again and gorged ourselves on loaded fries and burgers as we and other patrons watched Michigan State battle Memphis on TV in the NCAA Tournament.
We returned to the fieldhouse to watch the 3A final between Greensburg and Fort Wayne Concordia. Seemingly every year there’s at least one great game at the state finals. This year, it was the Greensburg-Concordia contest. The Cadets led nearly the entire game, but Greensburg made clutch shots to win in overtime.
Between the 3A and 4A games, we went to the concession stand and found a TV showing Butler’s game against Marquette. As Simon ate a hot dog, I stood around and watched with a crowd of others as the Bulldogs, helped by Pendleton Heights product Kellen Dunham and assistant coach Terry Johnson from Anderson, built a nine-point lead they would later relinquish in a heart-breaking loss.
Simon hit the wall a short time later, his head sagging with fatigue. So we left at halftime of the 4A contest between Carmel and Cathedral. (Carmel eventually prevailed.)
Leaving Indianapolis in the car, Simon fell asleep. But he woke up near the Noblesville exit, in time to remind me that I had promised to stop at Dairy Queen on the way home.
Editor Scott Underwood’s column appears Mondays. Contact him at email@example.com or 640-4845.