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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Class Basketball? Not in Indiana

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I’m a Hoosier through and through.

I was born and raised in Indianapolis. I bleed basketball. And on a Friday night from November to March you can find me in a high school gym.

I graduated from North Central in 1999, the year the Panthers won their first basketball state title. It was an exhilarating time that I will never forget. However, in my opinion, there is a huge asterisk on the victory because two years before, Indiana switched to a multi-class system. No longer was there one champion, now there were four.

What is the point? Especially in Indiana where some of the greatest sports stories ever told were thanks to a one-class system.

When Bobby Plump hit the game-winning shot for the famed 1954 Milan High School boys basketball team, the story was so unbelievably amazing Hollywood had to make a movie.

The same can be said for Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, legendary coach Ray Crowe and the 1955 Crispus Attucks basketball team who became the first all-Black high school in the nation to win an open state sports championship.

Wouldn’t it be nice to create history again? When former Butler University star and current NBA player Gordon Hayward hit the game winning shot during the 2008 boys basketball championship game for the 4A Brownsburg Bulldogs, it would have made for a better story if his team wasn’t the fourth “winner” of the day.

Even Plump agrees with me. He has argued that the current multi-class system isn’t exciting and doesn’t “provide the glory of the old tournament.”

“Unfortunately, the multi-class had molded into what is a community tournament because only those in that area unless it is a special team realize that they are state champions,” Plump said.

Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, is another advocate of returning to the glory days. He has held several public meetings on the subject and it seems Hoosiers are somewhere divided in the middle.

“Basketball is part of the national identity of the state of Indiana. And it must be respected as such,” he said.

I couldn’t agree more. Besides, attendance is down and its been reported that this year’s state finals hit an all-time low since the switch to class basketball.

Something has to be done. This is Indiana!

I understand giving smaller schools a shot at the title. But it’s much sweeter if you are truly the last team standing.

Ericka Sanders can be reached at Erickas@indianapolisrecorder.com.

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