City teams are back. Earlier this school year, it was the Tech High School football team that had everybody talking; now it’s Broad Ripple basketball. For the first time in 11 years, an Indianapolis Public Schools team has won back-to-back city tournament championships.
This week the Northwest High School Space Pioneers (9-6) faced off against defending city champions the Broad Ripple High School Rockets (14-2), for the annual city tournament title at Arsenal Tech High School. The game was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., and by 6:30 p.m., the parking lot and gym were full.
The environment was electric as veteran coach Scott Hicks took the court with his Broad Ripple team against second-year coach and rising star Mosi Barnes, and his young Northwest high school team. As the game progressed, you could tell that coach Barnes and Northwest had revenge on their minds (after their loss to the Rockets earlier in the season).
The game went back forth and it was amazing to see teenagers play with such tenacity and confidence, the kids traded big shot after big shot and the game came down to the final seconds. Northwest high school was down by one point with 19 seconds left in the contest, when Larry Banks of Northwest was called for a technical for a dead ball foul. Coach Barnes could not believe the call and was hit with another technical for letting the referees know about the call. Broad Ripple Point guard Aaron Payne stepped up and hit three out of four free throws to make the score 73-69 Rockets.
The crowd went from excited to upset; the players went from competing to angry. The officials called the game with two seconds left to keep things from getting out of hand. It was an ugly way to end such a well-played and competitive game; it took away from an environment that showcased great community support, sportsmanship and teamwork.
The Broad Ripple Rockets beat Northwest High School 75-69 and coach Scott Hicks, who is the Indianapolis City Tournament’s all-time winningest coach with six city championships, had just won his seventh city championship. As IPS district director Victor Bush presented the championship trophy to coach Hicks, I could not help but think back to the spring of 2010 when Bush and I first sat down with Hicks to talk to him about joining the IPS athletics family. We would love to say that we knew that he would bring such excitement to a school and community that were begging for something to cheer about, but I would be lying. The only thing we knew was that we would be getting a heck of a ball coach and most of all a stand up guy.