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Picture of Indiana. One class tournament is still big

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Bill Butcher and Bobby Plump grew up in more than a generation in surprisingly similar worlds when it came to basketball in their home state of Indiana.

Both created film scripts, taking their small school teams to the state finals. And they both remember trying to get a Sunday newspaper all those years ago for something that any college basketball fan could relate to. They wanted to fill in the brackets not for the NCAA Tournament, but for the legendary Indiana Tournament.

Watching 68 teams vie for the NCAA title in Indiana brings a flood of memories to people like Bachchi և Plump և, compared to the size of an old state tournament so familiar to a casual basketball fan because of the Hussier.

Before the madness of March, there was Hussier hysteria, և it reigned supreme.

“When I was playing, there were more than 400 teams playing for one state title, and every tournament game was on paper,” said Butcher, who played for his father at Little Loogootee. “People could not wait to get the paper, to pull back the brackets, you would find your own final quartet. “At the time, the teams were ranked in the top 20, so you listed the top 20 teams in the state, although that was not always the case.”

Plump, whose winning blow in 1954. For the little one in the state championship, Milan Haye became an inspiration to “Huzier”, he said that in those days he knew nothing about the NCAA tournament.

“High school basketball was the epitome of everything around here. “Coming from the small town of Perseville to Milan, we did not even hear from Indianapolis,” he said. “Heck, if we had known how good those teams are, we might not have won.”

But they did. And Plump and Butcher became the children of the early bracket poster in Indiana.

Plump’s shot at AC Milan is one of the most famous in the history of basketball. And that’s just part of Indiana science. The following year, Oscar Robertson headed the Indianapolis Crispus Atax to the title of state. The first in the United States was a team. Names and schools are full of history. Wood on Wooden Martinsville, Larry Bird Valley, George Org McGuinness, Indianapolis, Washington, Glen Robinson, Gary Roosevelt, Rick Mount, Lebanon.

If Butcher had won in 1974-75. Instead of finishing second, the title could also be on the list.

After rejecting an offer from Red Auerbach to play for the Boston Celtics in 1957, Butcher’s father, Jack Eck, returned to his small hometown to become the worst training coach in the state’s history. Twice he led the teams to the state finals. The team of 1975 was invincible, his son was leading.

In the morning semi-final, the Lions beat Columbus North 50-27 to fight that night only for the title match against Marion. While Butcher led Luguti with 14 points in his last game, he did not take the shot well, և Mario won 58-46.

Now 64, Butcher can still score victories that season as they did, even if it was a last-minute loss. He still carved somewhere in the state of Indiana that competes with Plump’s last blow. Following Loogootee’s victory over Seymour in the semifinals, the assistant coach suggested that it was time for Butcher to fulfill his promise to honor his father.

“He told me, ‘If you’re ever going to pass the ball to your dad, you better do it now,'” Butcher said. “So I got up, ran to the striker’s table and registered. I dribbled around, hardened it, and then I went straight to the bench, turning it back and throwing it right in front of him. He caught it. Ref looked at my dad, and my dad looked at ref, and ref didn’t know what to do right away. Finally he whistled.

The memories of those days never fade, they spread beyond the state lines.

“It’s great to have a state tournament where all the rankings are combined,” said Gonzaga coach Mark F, whose team hoped to become the NCAA’s first undefeated champion in 45 years. “I know that in Washington, sometimes, the best teams are not always ranked in the top, they are in one or two places in the rankings.”

The Indiana Classroom died in 1998 when, 87 years later, the IHSAA switched to a four-tier system with objections from Plump, Butcher, and many others. Initially, the governing body tried to calm down the “Champions Tournament” with the participation of four categories of winners. It was demolished two years later.

Gone are the days of 41,046 fans entering the state title game, as Damon Bailey’s Bedford North Lawrence champions did in 1990. The city parade was over, so many Indiana prep players were dreaming.

Participants who made it to the finals in eight states on Saturday will not even have a central round.

One year after the Indiana tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, and one week later than usual due to the revised schedule for the NCAA Tournament, the four state championship games will be played at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, just a few blocks away from Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s just not the same.

“Indiana High School Tournament is still special, not as unique as it used to be, but it is still special,” said Plump, now 84.

Still, tournament tales are part of a legacy passed down through the generations, “almost since the first organized game between the two YMCA teams in Crawfordsville in March 1894.”

Here the wooden heroes became the subject of legend. Bracket pools became popular here. And while Plump and Butcher set an example for all the small schools that did not make it, the lessons of one tournament today remain as vivid as the stars played.

“That year (1975) was the last time he gave silver rings to the vice-champions of the state. When I think about what I’m doing now, I can look at that circle and say, ‘I overcame things and disagreements that people never thought,’ “We can,” Butcher said. “When I look at this ring now, I say, It helped make me who I am. ”

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