Snow or no snow, high school basketball takes on a different look during the Christmas holiday.
Girls and boys programs often find themselves participating in a gymnasium foreign to them against teams equally as unfamiliar. Kind of a “We’re playing where?” proposition.
The sound of bouncing basketballs and squealing high-tops will dominate today at Franklin Community High School as coach Walt Raines’ girls squad hosts its 18th annual four-team, four-game event.
The 10:30 a.m. first game features Class 4A sectional rivals Franklin and New Palestine. However, Game 2 pits Indian Creek and Rushville, which haven’t played each other in recent memory, if ever.
Over the years, the Franklin Tournament has remained consistent in format, though programs as far away as Gary Wallace, Clinton Prairie, South Vigo, Seymour and Switzerland County have played a role. In December 2013, the Batesville Bulldogs travel west to join Franklin, Indian Creek and New Palestine.
“When I first started here we played at a holiday tournament in Greenfield with Carmel, Greenfield-Central and Richmond. We were in that for seven years, and I became a little unhappy with it because it always seemed like we drew the toughest team,” said Raines, who is in his 25th season as coach. “At that point Walt Vanderbush was our principal. (Vanderbush) said, ‘OK, let’s help Walt get his own tournament.’”
The Franklin Tournament made its debut in December 1995, featuring Triton Central, New Palestine and Pike, and has been going strong ever since.
“From a coach’s standpoint, hosting a tournament is easier. It puts a little extra work on the athletic director here, but they’ve all been very good about it,” Raines said. “And we try to make the day as fun as possible for all of the kids.”
This explanation mirrors why on Saturday the Franklin boys team travels to New Castle. The Grizzly Cubs face Brown County at 4 p.m. at 9,325-seat Chrysler Fieldhouse as part of a five-game showcase.
“It’s an opportunity for our kids. They want to play in some of the special places in Indiana, and New Castle is one of them,” first-year Franklin coach Jerry Bomholt said. “(FCHS athletic director) Kip (Staggs) came to me and asked if we would want to change the venue. A lot of them I would have said ‘no’ to, but this is special. We’re going to make a full day of it by going to eat and also visiting the (Indiana Basketball) Hall of Fame.”
The Indian Creek boys and Franklin girls programs are locked into a similar situation on Jan. 3.
The Braves take on South Decatur at noon in Bankers Life Fieldhouse as the first of five games to be played on the Indiana Pacers’ home court. Raines’ club faces Class 4A No. 18 Mooresville.
Sometimes holiday basketball isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. A year ago a boys game pitting Indian Creek against Whiteland was rescheduled to not just the last Saturday of 2011 but the last day.
“We played at Whiteland on New Year’s Eve because of football,” Braves coach Derek Perry said. “It was a bad crowd. I don’t want to do that again.”