When the consolidation bell rang in the southern part of Ripley County, four schools - Holton, Versailles, Cross Plains and New Marion, became one. It only made sense that the new school was located in the county seat of Versailles, that it was named South Ripley and that it's mascot was a Raider - after the infamous Morgan's Confederate Raiders (who terrorized the locals during the Civil War). Each school brought a tradition of basketball toughness to the consolidation. Versailles had won 6 Sectionals in their history, Holton 3, Cross Plains & New Marion 1 each. The new school simply added to that total, winning 12 Sectional titles (7 boys, 5 girls) and three trips to the Sweet 16 (twice by the boys, once the girls) since its formation in the 1960's. Sadly, the old gyms have not faired as well. New Marion and Holton no longer exist (Holton was destroyed by an EF-3 tornado in 2012) and Cross Plains is on its way. Only Tyson in Versailles remains a functioning gym (Tyson Activity Center), its illustrious history still on view. CGS.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
It had all the makings of a great game - undefeated #1 team vs. old rival, a snow covered Friday night in the middle of January and a packed gymnasium. The only problem - by the middle of the third quarter, defending state champ Greensburg led Madison by 15 points. With more than half the season gone, Madison (7-2) seemed to be the only team capable of defeating Greensburg (13-0), but that chance was slipping away. Suddenly the Cubs started to hit shots & their defense began to turn the ball over - the lead was cut to nine, and then 7. Tension spread through the home crowd and every missed free throw brought an uneasy silence. With a minute left, it was a 4 point game & I remembered a radio voice from years ago - "friends, what we've got here is an old fashioned barn burner." A Madison basket with 00:00 on the clock sent the game into overtime and then, another memorable night came to an end. CGS/MEK.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Eleven years after the first boy's basketball state champion was crowned at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ripley County started their own county wide tourney. The county, in 1922, was home to at least 9 high school teams, including Versailles, Batesville, Osgood, Milan, Sunman, Holton, Cross Plains, Napoleon and New Marion. Consolidation has changed the makeup of the tournament (at times Dearborn County teams have been participants) and now the annual affair hosts only Batesville, Jac-Cen-Del, Milan and South Ripley. The balance of power has also shifted through the years - Milan in the '50's, Sunman in the 60's and for the last seven years, Batesville. Michael made his way to championship night and a small sample of his images are found below (more can be seen on the Hoosier Hardwood Facebook page). What he found - the uniforms & the names on them may change, but intensity remains an integral part of this historic venue. MEK/CGS.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Before there was Southwestern (Hanover), there was Hanover and Saluda. Battered by numerous tornadoes, consolidated and partially demolished, little remains of the Saluda Lions. A lone trophy, from the 1939 Jefferson County Tourney, occupies a small corner of the Southwestern trophy case and the gym has become a quiet country home. CGS.
Monday, January 13, 2014
John Collier has spent his basketball life in southeastern Indiana. A four year letter winner (and two time leading scorer & captain) at Guilford High School, Collier played his college ball at Hanover, where he started all four years and led the Panthers to their first ever conference championship. At Vevay High, the Collier coached Warriors won back to back Sectional titles in 1954-55 and 1955-56, including a memorable 44-42 win over powerhouse Aurora in 1955 - the same Aurora that had beaten the 1954 Milan State Champs. After Vevay, Collier moved on to Brookville, where his 1957-58 squad posted an undefeated regular season before falling to Rushville in the regional. His Brookville teams would win 5 Sectional titles & 1 Regional championship under his guidance. But, in 1966 Hanover College came calling again. Collier would spend the rest of his coaching career at his Alma Mater where his teams won 388 games, multiple conference championships and appeared in five NAIA post season tournaments. John Collier was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979, having won 615 games as a high school and college coach. His son, Steve, joined him in the Hall in 2008. Now retired, Collier makes it a point to attend Panther games when he is in town. And if he's on campus, he's not hard to find - just head for the arena that sports his name. CGS/MEK.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
April 1974 brought the best & worst to Southwestern High School in Hanover. The Rebel basketball team had just won back to back Sectional titles and their star player, Steve Collier, was named Co Mr. Basketball (along with Roy Taylor of Anderson). And then came April 3. What began as a normal spring day turned into one of the deadliest outbreaks of tornadoes (148) in the nation's history. The gym where Collier honed his skills (over 2000 points scored, 55 in one game) that would make him a high school All-American and lead to a career at the University of Cincinnati was gone. The F4 tornado left 11 dead in Hanover and Madison and a mountain of disaster. Because of that, it's no surprise that the rebuilt Southwestern gym resembles a fortress. After the storm, the Rebel team would win 6 more Sectional titles and a spot in the 1998 2A Championship game (they would lose 57-43 to Alexandria). And, beginning in 2001, the Lady Rebels went on their own impressive run - winning the Sectional in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Under the guidance of Donna Cheatham (642 career wins in 39 seasons and currently at Scottsburg), the '02 squad would go on to win the state title. Just as the Rebels thought - the south did rise again. CGS.