The gymnasiums in Johnson County all have stories to tell.

From Edinburgh to Whiteland, there have been generations of standing-room-only crowds, late-game heroics and, occasionally, heated exchanges in which even the spectators were involved.

There is no scientific method for ranking each gym’s most unforgettable boys basketball games. But the Daily Journal rounded up longtime basketball fans, some with memories reaching back four or five decades, and listened to their stories.

Here is what they had to say:

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WEST GYMNASIUM (Center Grove)

First season: 1953-54

Capacity: 2,100

Dick Harmening (Center Grove coach,1983-92)

“It was when we beat Lawrence North the year they won the state championship (1988-89). We really drilled them. I just had a well-rounded team that year. Dan Thompson played on that team, along with Scott Long and Todd Lammert. Lawrence North was good when we played them. We just played a great game.”

Ivan Smith (longtime tennis coach and former boys basketball assistant)

“I remember the 1972-73 season we played Franklin around Thanksgiving. They had high expectations with Gary Aplanalp and Jon and Don McGlothlin. There wasn’t a seat left at the start of the reserve game, and we had bleachers set up along the top, too.”

Jim Williams (1978 Center Grove graduate, current girls golf coach) 

“It may have been 1975, but I was thinking 1974 — a Martinsville player put one of our players in a full nelson during the game. Then a guy comes up and punches our player in the eye. People just started filing out of the stands, and it was on after that. It was crazy. There are people out there whaling on each other.”

EDINBURGH

First season: 1957-58

Capacity: 2,080

Jackie Smith (1968 Edinburgh grad and longtime scorekeeper)

“Our game against Brown County went five overtimes (in 1973-74). We ended up with three players on the floor. The rest of them fouled out. It was a very long game because of all of the people going to the free-throw line for both teams.”

Keaney Sloop (1963 Center Grove graduate who attended Union Township in Franklin for grades 1 to 9)

“As far as being a spectator, the best game I ever saw there was the year after Edinburgh and Franklin had the big fight in the old Franklin gym (1959-60). Franklin won, I believe, but it didn’t really have the drama that we expected. I do remember it was a very hostile crowd.”

Ron Hamm (1971 Edinburgh graduate and longtime scorekeeper since 1984-85)

“The one that really sticks out in my mind was in the 2011-12 season against Hauser. We scored 102 points and the losing team scored 86. It was just a well-played game that was back and forth from the start. We were having to pay attention just to keep up with all the scoring.”

Rick Bechtel (Edinburgh boys basketball coach, 1983-93)

“The game in our sectional last year where Central Christian beat Arlington. A kid from Central Christian turned around and threw the ball about 75 feet and it went in and they won the game. It was off a missed free throw, and he just turned around and threw it, and it hit nothing but the bottom of the net.”

INDIAN CREEK

First season: 1967-68

Capacity: 2,300

Mark Ray (1975 Indian Creek graduate)

“It was the first year of the school and they played Martinsville when they dedicated the gym. (Former IHSAA commissioner) Phil Eskew was there and we won by one point. Chris Catt hit two free throws for us with just a couple seconds left, if that much. I can still see Chris standing at the free-throw line. He took all kinds of time and he swished both of them.”

Joe DeHart (1954 Trafalgar graduate)

“I’ve seen hundreds of games and have an awful time picking one out. But the first one that pops in my head was a few years ago against Greensburg. They hit a 3-pointer and beat us (65-64), but the film later showed it was a 2-pointer. His foot was on the line. That game was as good as any I can remember.”

Chris Carter (1984 Franklin graduate and current Trafalgar resident)

“Franklin and Indian Creek have had some great games over the years. I remember the Carmony boy (Wes) playing for Indian Creek (1999-2000), and I think Franklin beat them, 77-75. Carmony had like 35 points. That was one of the better games I’ve ever seen in that gymnasium. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it was standing room only.”

VANDIVIER GYMNASIUM (Franklin Middle School)

First season: 1961-62

Capacity: 4,600

Mike Hall (longtime Franklin boys track coach)

“It was the regional there in the first year of class basketball (1997-98) and we played Sullivan. It was a great atmosphere. Unfortunately, the wrong team won. At the end of the game, their guard, Joey Davidson, made a play and we couldn’t quite get back into it. It was so loud in there you couldn’t hear the officials’ whistles.”

Noel Heminger (1968 Franklin grad, former athletics director and assistant boys coach)

“One of the neatest things was hosting a Class A regional and having all those small schools like Orleans and Lanesville there and having the place packed.”

Dave Clark (Franklin boys coach, 1994-2012)

“The night honoring Jon McGlocklin (Feb. 11, 2000) we had there against Greenwood was pretty special. He came in and talked to the team before the game. He spoke in front of the crowd, and we went on to win that game. It’s always good to bring back people associated with the school.”

GREENWOOD

First season: 1971-72

Capacity: 4,064

Bruce Hensley (former Greenwood player and boys head coach)

“If I was going to pick one, it would be the semifinal game of our sectional against Franklin in the last season of single-class basketball (1996-97). Just how well the game was played, especially the way both teams shot the ball that night. We lost, and it was one of the hardest losses you could have.”

Jim Higdon (1968 Greenwood graduate)

“The 2001-02 sectional at Greenwood was a great week. The Woodmen had some pretty good players that season, but I don’t think they were expected to win sectional. They beat Manual in overtime and then Franklin Central and Perry Meridian.”

Jim Oxley (1973 Greenwood graduate)

“Jennings County (in 1971-72) was ranked in the top 10 in the state and had beaten a team by 80 points the night before. They brought 10 to 12 fan buses and the gymnasium was absolutely packed. We jumped out to a 12-2 lead and the place is going absolutely crazy. They came back and won, but it was totally Hoosier Hysteria.”

GLENN RAY GYMNASIUM (Whiteland)

First season: 1957-58

Capacity: 4,649

Butch Zike (1968 Whiteland grad, former coach and athletic director)

“The Franklin-Cathedral game in Jon McGlocklin’s senior year (1960-61). I didn’t attend it, but I know people who were there. From what I’ve heard, Cathedral wouldn’t come down and play Franklin in its own gym, so they played at Whiteland. They didn’t want Franklin to have that home-court advantage. That game was huge because it had two (future) professional players in the same gym.”

Rusty Hughes (Franklin College tennis coach, attended this game at age 8)

“I was just a kid, and Jon McGlocklin was kind of my idol. Walt Sahm, who played for Cathedral, went on to play at Notre Dame. I do know it was a sudden-death finish. Jon shot a turnaround jump shot from the free-throw line and the Franklin fans started coming onto the court when the ball was in midair. They knew the shot was going in.”

Ken Sears (1978 Whiteland grad and current athletic director)

“We did play a ‘Coal Strike Classic’ back in 1978. Because of the coal strike and blizzard, the sectional got pushed back two weeks and we got to play an extra game as long as you played in the afternoon without lights. At that time Glenn Ray Gym had windows on both sides. We played Martinsville and lost in overtime.”

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.