PENDLETON — The IHSAA’s fifth stop on its state-wide basketball-only tour reached Pendleton Heights High School on Tuesday night. Inside, memories of yesteryear filled Loren Skinner Auditorium. There was no shortage of people ready to step up to the microphone and recall the Hoosier State’s version of athletic immortality: their team’s run at the state championship. Many of these basketball fans felt that when the IHSAA Board of Directors approved the multi-class tournament model for basketball (and four other sports) on April 29, 1996, the Indiana high school basketball tournament was robbed of its distinction and heritage.
These stories are music to the ears of state Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, who proposed legislation in the Indiana General Assembly that would have required a return to single-class basketball. He agreed to withdraw the bill when ISHAA Commissioner Bobby Cox suggested the two of them tour the state to gauge Indiana’s interest and opinion on the matter.
Delph is tugging at the heartstrings of Hoosier Hysteria past in order to reclaim what he and many others believe made Indiana basketball equal parts famous and unique.
“This issue is about Indiana tradition, Indiana history. Basketball is a sport unlike any other sport in the state of Indiana. John Wooden played basketball here. We’ve got the story of Bobby Plump and Milan Miracle in 1954. We’ve got the story of Mike and Chris Heineman bringing Connersville to the state championship. It’s a special place, a special history,” said Delph, who is also open to a hybrid tournament system. “A lot of states spend a lot of money to build up identities and competitive advantages relative to their neighbors, and we had one and we let it go.
“It’s something that’s very near and dear to me. I love Indiana. I love our tradition. I love our history. I love the sport of basketball.”