South Ripley Vs. Batesville
There isn’t anything quite like Indiana High school basketball. Anyone who
has seen the movie classic “Hoosiers” can attest to that fact.
The movie is actually based on a state championship game played in 1954
between the David and Goliath of high school basketball. The David
happened to be the MIlan Indians, a small school of 150 students in
southeastern Indiana and Goliath, the Muncie Central Bearcats, one of
the largest schools in the state.
True to the movie, the state of Indiana practically closes down on Friday
nights and especially in March when March Madness sets in, an annual
terminal disease that affected practically everyone in the state. It was
almost a state law that one had to head to the gym and attend the
weekly basket ball game.
Growing up in that part of the state , the memory of Milan winning the “big
one” was always on our minds, and we all wanted to repeat someday.
Basket ball was taken seriously, and to lose a game almost meant
The games were talked about for years afterwards, and most people were able
to remember each game almost play by play. Some of the most fierce
competition every year would come during the sectional play, which was
the first round of the state championship tournament. It was during this
time the local schools played each other for the privilege of advancing
to regional play and a chance to enter the “big time.”
The year was 1970 and over the last several years, Ripley County had sent a
team to the Semi State tournament almost yearly, several of whom had
been ranked in the top ten in the state polls. Quite an accomplishment
for an area only having schools with less than a five hundred student
In 1970, the two dominant schools in the area were South Ripley and
Batesville. As was the usual case, they had played each other several
times throughout the year and the final score was always close. As with
most of the schools in the area , there was no love lost between the
two, especially on the basketball court.
As luck would have it, the final game of the sectional came down to these
two teams, it would be quite a climax for what had been a highly
competitive tournament. Since over the years, for whatever reason, South
Ripley had become the team to not like, it would be a highly charged
The afternoon games were close and everyone was excited about what would
happen in the evening. Then something suddenly happened which changed
the whole perspective.
Chris Smith, one of the leading scorers on the South Ripley team suffered a
tragic blow. His dad an avid fan and driver for the Butternut Bread
company, had stopped to see the afternoon game while delivering his
bread route. Driving back to Versailles to drop off his truck so he
could come back for the evening game, he suffered a fatal heart attack
and died enroute.
Of course everyone, was devastated. How could such a thing happen?
Obviously, the family were beside themselves and a decision had to be
made as to whether Chris would indeed play in the evening game.
There comes a time when something is more important than basketball,even in
Indiana. However, this was an important game, and it was doubtful South
Ripley could win without Chris. Finally , the decision was left up to
the person it should have been left up to, Chris.
After talking it over with family members he decided to play, his dad, would have wanted him to.
The game was everything it had been promised to be, the score fluctuated
back and forth many times and Chris was playing his heart out,probably
the best game of his life. Many fans even though they weren’t South
Ripley fans found themselves cheering for the Raiders. It was just one
of those moments in time.
It was easy to see that the emotion was playing on Chris, everytime up and
down the floor was an emotional roller coaster. As the game came to a
close , the game had become a real barn burner!
In the final seconds, Batesville scored putting them one point ahead.
South Ripley had the ball, crossing the ten second line,standing near
the out of bounds line on the right side of the court, in what would be a
three point shot today, the ball was passed to Chris Smith . With one
second on the clock. Barely getting the shot off before the final horn,
it seemed to take forever to reach the rim. Not a sound was heard, it
was all on the line.
It went in! Never even touched the rim. Game over, South Ripley wins!
Totally spent, physically and emotionally drained, Chis was lying on the
floor sobbing, he had given it all , somewhere ,dad was looking down
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Gary has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature,landscapes and studying native cultures.Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt,the Canary Islands,much of the Caribbean. He has studied the Mayan Cultures in Central America, and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!
He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.
For more information and a link to his hard cover and Ebooks,and contact information: please check his website.www.commonsensejourneys.com
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Remembering a simpler time, a time when neighbor knew neighbor and people helped each other.