Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hoosier nostalgia

This week is sectional week in Indiana, the first leg in what the high school powers-that-be still call Hoosier Hysteria, but which really isn't because Hoosier Hysteria died with the single-class tournament in 1997.

(Or so the Blob maintains, and will always maintain. This is not to diminish the current incarnation of March hoops in Indiana, mind you. There's plenty of hysteria surrounding that, surely. But it's not the Hysteria. That will always be a particular brand belonging to a particular time in Indiana basketball history, at least by the Blob's lights).

Anyway ... it's sectional week. And if the Blob acknowledges that past Marches were not better than the present ones, only different, in at least one regard the present pales in comparison.

That's because of something my former colleague in Anderson, the esteemed Mike Chappell, called attention to yesterday: The North Central Conference ain't what it used to be.

What it used to be, back in the 1980s, was the pre-eminent basketball conference in the state, if not the nation. Because of its far-flung nature, it wasn't unusual for two NCC schools to wind up playing in the state championship game when the dust settled in March. In fact, between 1979 and 1987, NCC schools squared off in the title game four times.

Muncie Central-Anderson in 1979. Marion-Richmond in 1985. Marion-Anderson in 1986. Marion-Richmond in 1987.

Anderson, Muncie Central, Marion and Richmond were the heavyweights then, and when they played one another there was nothing else quite like it anywhere. It may be the most trite utterance of all time, but you really had to be there.

Which is what makes Chappell's observation yesterday so bittersweet.

Anderson, he pointed out, was 4-19 going into sectional play. Richmond was 2-22.

And Marion and Muncie Central?

The Giants were 10-12. The Bearcats were 8-14.

And so, combined, the one-time high school hoops heavyweights were 24-67 this winter.

So much for the good old days.

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