By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — FRANKTON — The gym is empty now, save for a few stragglers emerging from the home locker room.
Just a few short months ago, however, it was the place to be in Madison County. The Eagles' Nest was bursting at the seams on nearly every game day this winter.
When the Frankton varsity players stole a peek through the doors during the second quarter of a December game against Wapahani, they saw a gym already filled to capacity. In February, students lined up in the hallway outside the gymnasium around 3 p.m. — just after school let out — to make sure they reserved a seat for a highly anticipated rematch against rival Lapel.
"There were three or four games that were sold out, and they had to turn people away at the door," Aaron Korn says, sitting in the first row of bleachers and looking around the gymnasium as though if he strained just enough he could still hear the fans' roar. "It was just crazy."
Many of them were there to see No. 23, the 6-foot-5 guard who carried the community's hopes and dreams upon his shoulders. And, far more often than not, The Herald Bulletin's 2014 Boys Basketball Player of the Year delivered.
There was a 47-point game at Muncie Central in February, during which Korn set a school single-game scoring record and shot an incredible 18-for-21 from the field. There was a 21-point effort in that December win against Wapahani that helped the Eagles rise to No. 2 in the Class 2A state poll. And there was a 30-point showing against Lapel to help reward the students' early bird loyalty and even the season series against the Bulldogs.
As Korn looked around the now empty gym, he easily could catch a glimpse of the banner to his left displaying Frankton's 2012 sectional championship — the first for the boys basketball program in 91 years of competition. To the far right sits a tote board with his name atop the school's career scoring list after he finished with 1,994 points. Directly before him lies the court where the Eagles earned 13 of their school-record 21 victories this season.
Those are among the accomplishments that helped Korn become an Indiana All-Star during his junior season. And they helped him gain entrance to a select club of players who have been honored as THB's top boys basketball star on more than one occasion, with the Eagles senior repeating this year.
But they don't tell the whole story.
"The biggest thing that sticks out about Aaron Korn is he is a team player," Frankton coach Brent Brobston said. "He was a part of three (Central Indiana) Conference championships in a row and the first sectional championship. And those are the most important things to him. He's a great kid on and off the court. That's why I've enjoyed coaching him throughout his career."
Korn still is coming to grips with the fact that career is over. He led the Eagles with 21.3 points per game and added 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and two steals per contest. And in any other year of his high school career, he'd be playing with his AAU team right now and preparing for next season.
Instead, he took a well-earned break — the first he can remember — and has focused on getting stronger and quicker. He'll play NCAA Div. I basketball next season at Lipscomb and plans to make an impact immediately.
Frankton, meanwhile, will look for a way to move on without him.
"It's gotta be by committee," Brobston said. "Aaron is not replaceable."
Not that others won't try.
Korn has met many of them, at basketball camps and after-school visits. He's stood at the front of their classrooms and looked into their faces gazing back with familiar expressions.
After all, he once sat in their chairs.
As an elementary school student, he went to every Frankton varsity game and dreamed of one day taking the court himself. He had no way of knowing he would help elevate the program to unprecedented heights.
Now he's the one inspiring their dreams.
"It makes you feel good," Korn says. "It makes you feel like you're doing something right. It's a real motivational tool, too. You want to make sure you're doing the right things on and off the court. Frankton is a special place."
The Herald Bulletin's 2014 Boys Basketball Honor Roll Grant Bennett, Anderson; Jared Bourff, Elwood; Austin Compton, Frankton; Kenton Dunham, Pendleton Heights; Gavin Griggs, Shenandoah; Caleb Hardy, Pendleton Heights; Leo Harris, Anderson Prep; Sean McDermott, Pendleton Heights; Chris Nunn, Liberty Christian; Franklin Nunn, Liberty Christian; Preston Quinn, Liberty Christian; Jordan Reeves, Frankton; Mitchell Richardson, Lapel; Kenya Wilkerson, Anderson