The Historic Hoosier Gym in Knightstown is an Indiana basketball monument, recognized around the world as the home of the Hickory Huskers in the classic film “Hoosiers.”
Playing against a pair of schools from Michigan, the Greenwood Christian and Greenwood girls basketball teams made sure that the home state held serve in the Border War Classic on Thursday night.
The tournament host Cougars held on for a 49-45 win against Tri County in a closely contested opening game, and the Woodmen followed with a scorching first-half performance that paved the way to a comfortable 72-45 victory against Walled Lake Northern.
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Having the rare opportunity to play in the iconic bandbox was enough of a treat for both Greenwood Christian and Greenwood, but coming away on top made the experience that much sweeter.
“I was already excited to come,” Greenwood coach Bill Torgerson said. “I don’t know that the kids were that excited to come, but I think that when they walked in, they got excited. I think maybe history hit them in the face a little bit when they walked in.”
Greenwood Christian (8-5) led 36-24 entering the fourth quarter of the opener, but Tri County reeled off 13 points in a row to take a one-point lead with 3:23 remaining. The Cougars regrouped, however, retaking the lead on two Izzy Reed free throws at the 3:02 mark and building their edge back up to six with 1:10 to go. Tri County got back within a point in the final minute, but foul shots from Sarah Mangan and Grace Peters allowed Greenwood Christian to hold on.
“We usually give away the leads,” Peters said, “but we always have the fighting mentality that we’re just not going to give up, and that no matter what happens, that we’re just going to give it our all.”
Mangan scored 15 points in the victory. Reed added 12 points and Alexis Mead had 10 for the Cougars, who prevailed despite committing 25 turnovers and missing 14 of their 29 shots from the line.
Peters said that the smaller court dimensions — the Hoosier Gym floor is 12 feet shorter than a regulation high school court — helped prevent either offense from getting into a rhythm.
“It was very tight, very squished,” Peters said. “Everything just seemed very packed compared to the usual game.”
There were no such struggles on offense for the Woodmen (9-8), who used a 17-4 run during the first quarter to quickly take control of the nightcap. Alex Kincaid poured in 17 of Greenwood’s 48 first-half points in a game that was fairly lopsided after the first few minutes.
“We had a little bit more excitement in us tonight, knowing it wasn’t just any gym that we were playing at, and we knew that we were going to come here and leave a mark,” Kincaid said.
Leah Moore matched Kincaid’s 17 points and five steals for Greenwood, while Brooklyn Stubblefield had 11 and Bailee Taft added 10. Kincaid tacked on seven rebounds and five assists as well.
The matchups will flip-flop for this afternoon’s games between the same four teams at Greenwood Middle School, with the action starting at 1 p.m.