Just to illustrate how serious basketball is taken in Indiana, the following incident happened to my team in the seventh grade.
I attended a very small school in Napoleon Indiana, typical of the schools in the area my seventh-grade class consisted of about thirty-five students.
As was the case in Indiana, the team from the neighboring town was always your fiercest rival, we would sooner cut off an arm than lose to those guys. Our rivals were the school in Osgood, which was only five miles away, not as large a school as Napoleon the seventh-grade class probably only had about twelve students. Almost every boy in the class played on the basketball team.
Much to the chagrin of my teacher, we had played them a couple of times that year and beaten them handily. Our teacher was from that town and was an avid fan. He was having a real hard time dealing with this crisis. Whenever the classroom discussion turned to basketball, which it often did, all we ever heard was how bad a team we were.
Finally, towards the end of the season, our enterprising instructor could take it no longer, with a game scheduled for the following evening he threw a surprise test, which resulted in three of the starting five failing the test making them ineligible play that evening.
Terror struck us, how were we going to win, what a humiliation.
Walking as fast as turtles on Valium, the team or what was left of it, entered the gymnasium expecting a massacre.
At that moment the only bright spot were the cheerleaders, they were prettier than a glob of butter melting on a stack of hot cakes!
Thus, the game began with us feeling like sheep being led to slaughter, this was not going to be pretty. I hardly noticed the fact that the referees and time keeper were eighth-grade players from our school, this was unusual as customarily there would an equal number of older players from each school officiating.
Despite the fact we were the visiting team it wasn’t going too badly, the lead changed hands several times as the game progressed. I began to think that maybe we had a chance to pull this puppy out of the fire.
Even at the elementary level, basketball games in Indiana draw a size able crowd, the fans were starting to react like cats at a dog fight. I could sense another one of those sudden death moments when the game goes down to the final second.
Ten seconds to play, they have the ball and they’re 1 point ahead, the only option is to foul the ball handler. With one second left the foul is committed, being as nervous as a cow walking past Sam Seltzers, the poor guy missed both free throws.
Our coach immediately called” time out”.
He instructed us that instead of taking the ball out under their basket we would take it out at mid court, it was then I realized the importance of having our own referees. The ball would be passed to me and another team mate would charge for the basket, getting as far as he could before I passed the ball to him.
Easier said than done. Being nervous myself, the ball was passed to me, it bounced off my knee and rolled across the floor to my team mate Jim, who was just in back of the free throw line, he picked it up and shot just as the final horn sounded. Reminiscent of the movie “Hoosiers” It went through, we won. This all happened inside of a second. Oh yeah, did I mention, the time keeper was also from our school? Turnabout, fair play. Our teacher wouldn’t speak to us for a week, paybacks are hell.
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Indiana high school basketball sweatshirt.