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BASKETBALL HISTORY (C-ville Sectionals) -- BY BILL BOONE - thanks muches BB :)

HISTORY OF THE CRAWFORDSVILLE SECTIONAL 1915-1971 by Bill Boone -- NOTE: see picture links below :) Great job, Bill and thanks sooo very much -- click on the blue links to see photos Bill has provided - this is G-R-E-A-T!!

The IHSAA adopted the sectional format for the 1915 season, but the early Athenian annuals and the local newspapers referred to the tourney as the district tourney. The following sites were designated as tourney sites for the first year: Anderson, Bedford, Bluffton, Brazil, Crawfordsville, Evansville, Franklin, Hammond, Kokomo, Lebanon, Lafayette, Richmond, Rochester, and Seymour. CHS welcomed ten other teams that year to the second floor of the Terminal Building which housed the YMCA or the Old Armory basketball floor. Although team nicknames did not come into fashion until the middle 20's, I have identified the teams with their modern nicknames. The following teams were represented: The Attica Red Ramblers, Crawfordsville Athenians, Darlington Indians, Mellott Derbies, New Market Purple Flyers, Newtown (no nickname), New Richmond Cardinals, Veedersburg Green Devils, Waynetown Gladiators, Williamsport Bingy Bombers, and the Wingate Spartans. The winners of the fourteen sectionals were scheduled to journey to Indiana University to play for the State Championship. Crawfordsville won the first sectional by defeating New Richmond 32-22 and advanced to Bloomington where they lost to Rochester in the first game 20-17. The next four sectionals were also held the YMCA gymnasium above the Terminal Building. The Roachdale Hawks, Pine Village Pine Knots, and the Ladoga Spartans joined the other eleven teams making a total of fourteen in the second Crawfordsville sectional. Crawfordsville won the second sectional in 1916 and advanced to the final game of the state before losing to Lafayette Jeff 27-26 in overtime. The Athenians were 26-4 that year. The Hillsboro Wildcats and the Covington Trojans came over from Fountain County swelling the list of teams to its peak of sixteen for the 1917 tourney. There were fifteen teams in 1918 as Covington moved out. The Romney Pirates and Mace (no nickname) joined the fun in 1919 making the total again sixteen teams. These tournaments were beginning to be played to packed houses and the 1919 crowd was estimated at 800-1000 fans with about 300 turned away. Crawfordsville won the 1919 sectional by defeating Darlington 16-7 and advanced to the fourteen team finals at Purdue where they defeated Franklin 18-14 and Logansport 20-1 before losing to Lafayette in the afternoon game of the finals 18-15. Bloomington won the championship and Lafayette was runner-up even though Crawfordsville had beaten both of them in the regular season.

The first five sectionals had been won by either Crawfordsville or Wingate and the odds were good that one of those two would also win again in 1919-20. The winner of the Crawfordsville Sectional would probably be the favorite to win the state crown, but disaster struck. Neither would get the opportunity as both were suspended from the IHSAA that year for recruiting a player from another school. The situation came to light because Crawfordsville had played Mellott in summer baseball game and noticed a player named Fletcher Kerr on the Mellott baseball team. Kerr ended up on the Wingate basketball team that fall and CHS protested to the IHSAA. Whereupon, Wingate then revealed that C'ville had recruited a basketball player named Marion Blacker from the Wingate team and the squabble was on. To still the furor, the IHSAA suspended both Crawfordsville and Wingate and took the sectional away from Montgomery County.

The IHSAA then sent Waynetown, New Market, Alamo, Mace, Ladoga, New Ross, Bowers, Darlington, and Waveland to the Greencastle Sectional where Greencastle defeated Ladoga in the championship game 18-13. That would be the first of eight sectional championship games that Ladoga would lose-seven at Crawfordsville and one at Greencastle. New Richmond and Linden went north to the Lafayette Sectional and lost in the early rounds. Wingate and Crawfordsville then played an independent schedule, playing college, semi-pro, and independent teams. They met twice that year and split the two games; Crawfordsville defeated Wingate and won the Tri-State Tourney at Cincinnati and Wingate defeated Crawfordsville at Chicago in the final game of the Mid-West Tournament at Chicago.

Wingate was proclaimed National Champs that year and C'ville ended the year with a 30-2 record. Things got back to normal after the "Outlaw Year," for the C'ville Sectional. Crawfordsville and Wingate continued to dominate as one or the other won until 1927 when Bowers defeated Wingate 20-10. The 1927 sectional was the first ever won by any team other than Wingate or Crawfordsville and it turned out to be the only sectional that Bowers ever won. In the first twelve years of sectional competition, Wingate won four sectionals and Crawfordsville won seven. Remember that both were suspended in 1919-20 and the other county schools went elsewhere. The 1921 and 1922 sectionals were played in the CHS auditorium with Crawfordsville winning in 1921 and Wingate winning in 1922.

The sectional then moved to the Wabash College for the next seventeen years, 1923 through 1939. From 1915 to 1939, Crawfordsville won fifteen sectionals, Wingate won five Waveland won two and Bowers and New Richmond won one apiece. New Richmond won its only sectional in 1934. The Crawfordsville Sectional which fluctuated from eleven teams then first year to sixteen in 1917, 1919, and 1922, finally settled into a twelve team competition from 1925 until 1953. The only variations were in 1944 when Bowers had no team and 1933 when Linden did not play. In the fall of 1953, New Richmond and Wingate became Coal Creek Central, and in the fall of 1955, Bowers consolidated with Darlington; the sectional became first and eleven and then a ten team affair.

The sectional had traveled from its initial site at the old YMCA gym, to the CHS auditorium, then to Wabash College before finding a permanent home at the new CHS gym where it would stay for the next 31 years, from 1940 to 1971. After winning the first four sectionals in their new gym, Crawfordsville saw the County teams begin to flex their muscles. Waynetown won back to back titles in 1944 and 1945 with undefeated seasons. During a four year span, the Gladiators would win 51 consecutive regular season games under veteran coach Ralph Capehart. The Glads also won two straight county titles during that time and won their only regional in 1944.

C'ville then won the next three titles before Waveland rose up and won in 1949, starting a string of six straight county school wins in the C'ville Sectional. New Market followed Waveland with a win in 1950. Waveland reclaimed the crown in 1951 under the legendary Cliff Davis and held on to it in 1952 and 1953 under Jim Hannah. The Hornets dominated Montgomery County basketball from 1948 to 1955. During the Hornet era, Waveland won four County Tourneys (1959, 1951, 1953, and 1955) and four sectionals (1949, 1951, 1952, and 1953) becoming the only county school to win three straight sectionals. During that seven year span, Waveland won 140 games and lost only 29 for a winning percentage of .828. They were undefeated in 1950-51 losing only to Covington in the regional 54-48. The Hornets that year were led by Keith Greve, Bill Wheeler, Don Whitecotton, and Bob Harbison.

The New Ross Bluejays continued the county dominance by winning its first sectional title in 1954, but relinquished it as Crawfordsville broke its six year dry spell by winning in 1955. The Athenians lost only to Lebanon in the third game of the regular season that year and then reeled off twenty-two straight victories destroying the competition in the sectional and regional before losing to Gary Roosevelt in the semi-state 71-51. Under Coach Jerry DeWitt, the Athenians finished the year with an outstanding record of 24-2. The Bluejays reclaimed the crown in 1956 as they won 26 straight games under Coach Glen Harper. New Ross was led by four year starter, Richard Haffner and blew through the Greencastle Regional before losing to the eventual state runner-up, Gary Froebel, in the West Lafayette Semi-State 56-40. Crawfordsville won the next four sectionals, 1957 through 1960. The 1958 team under Coach Dick Baumgartner and led by Trester Award winner, Dick Haslam, went all the way to the final game of the state before losing to Ft. Wayne South, led by 7-foot Mike McCoy. The New Ross Bluejays cut the C'ville string at four in 1961 and breezed through the Covington Regional before losing to Logansport 83-51. The Jays were led by Coach Keith Greve who coached at New Ross for three years and won two sectionals, and a regional along with three straight 20 victory seasons. The Bluejays put together three amazing seasons going 21-2 in 1959-60, 25-2 in 1960-61 and 21-4 in 1961-62. The New Ross contingent of the twelve year period from 1953 to 1965 won four County Tourneys, four sectionals, and two regionals. They won twenty or more games nine times in that period and had only one losing season. In that period, the Bluejays were 229-51 for a winning percentage of .817.

Crawfordsville reclaimed the sectional crown in 1963 and successfully defended it in 1964 and 1965, but there were storm clouds looming on the horizon for the venerable Crawfordsville Sectional. Consolidation plans had begun and the IHSAA was making plans for state-wide eight team sectionals.

The Montgomery County Sectional which had existed practically unchanged for forty years was about to be taken apart. In 1965, the IHSAA sent Linden to Frankfort and Alamo to Cayuga for the North Vermillion Sectional. In 1966, Linden remained at Frankfort, Alamo returned to the fold at C'ville and ironically, Darlington was sent to Zionsville. It was ironic because the Darlington star was beginning to rise. With Darlington busy at Zionsville, Coal Creek Central picked off its only sectional prize in 1966. The Bearcats coached by Phil Miller and led by sharpshooter Larry Lidester who scored 460 points that year, won 20 games. The Cats had great balance in 1965-66 as all five starters scored over 200 points. Rich Stonebraker followed Lidester with 395 points and Lee Fouts followed with 346. Chuck McKnight scored 274 and Denny Mennen added 244.

New Market pulled the upset of all time in 1967 as far as the C'ville Sectional was concerned by winning its second title after winning only two games during the regular season. The Purple Flyers came on strong in the sectional to defeat defending champ Coal Creek Central 78-72, New Ross 81-63 and Waveland 57-50. The bubble burst in the opening game of the regional, however, as Larry Steele and the Bainbridge Pointers defeated the Flyers 79-42. Darlington was beginning to make its move in 1967. After winning only one tournament in its history (the county in 1954), Darlington was building a solid base. The Indians were 15-6 in 1966-67 under Galen Smith and 18-4 with a County championship in 1968. Dave Nicholson arrived on the scene in the fall of 1968 and the Indians exploded. They put together two undefeated seasons back to back, going 24-1 in 1968-69 and 22-1 in 1969-70. They won the County Tourney both years and the Lebanon sectional in 1969. In the five year period from 1967 to 1971, the Indians won 97 games while losing only 16 for a glowing winning percentage of .858. They won three consecutive County Tourneys (1968, 1969, and 1970) and the Lebanon Sectional in 1969. The mainstays on the 1969 and 1970 Indians were Dan Nichols, Don Threlkeld, (1969) and Rich Douglas. All three blistered the nets at record-breaking paces. Nichols would end his career with 975 points, Threlkeld with 1246 and Rich Douglas with the career record of 1296 points. While Darlington was winning in 1969 at Lebanon, Crawfordsville won in Montgomery County. The old rivals squared off in the second game of the regional at Frankfort with C'ville winning 70-66. The defeat was the only one for Dave Nicholson's crew that year.

Waynetown slipped in and won the 1970 sectional at Crawfordsville defeating the host Athenians 74-69. Four schools had better records than the Gladiators, but an old Linden Bulldog star, Fred Johnson, guided the Gladiators to their third and last sectional crown. Waynetown had won only seven games that year. Coal Creek Central, Crawfordsville, and Linden all had better records as did Darlington. But Darlington was at the Lebanon Sectional where they lost to the host Tigers 84-70 and the Gladiators defeated New Market 74-69, New Ross 76-59 and Crawfordsville 74-69 for the championship. When all the firing was over and the smoke had cleared after the 1971 season, all of the County schools except Ladoga, Linden, and Alamo had won at least one sectional crown. Ladoga had the longest history of frustration, going to the title game seven times at Crawfordsville and once at Greencastle without winning a title. The Canners did win two County championships, however. Linden advanced to the final game five times without winning a sectional, but did win six County titles second only to New Market. Finally tiny Alamo got to the final game once losing to Crawfordsville in 1959 by a score of 63-48. The Warriors did win four County crowns however, winning in 1934, 1939, 1946, and 1957. The Crawfordsville Sectional ended its fifty-five year run in 1971 the same way it started in 1915. The host Athenians won the last sectional just as they had won the first one.

The Crawfordsville Sectional then went to North Montgomery for the next twenty years. The three Montgomery County schools, Crawfordsville, North Montgomery and Southmont were joined by Southwestern and Wainwright for the 1972 sectional. The two Tippecanoe County schools then consolidated into McCutcheon in the fall of 1975 making a four team sectional until 1992 when the three county rivals all went to Lebanon to try their luck with ancient rival Lebanon.

Boone County |  Clinton County |  Fountain County |
 Hendricks County |  Parke County |
 Putnam County |  Tippecanoe County

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© Copyright 2013 Karen Zach

Data contained within this website may only be used with permission of the submitter, for non-commercial research and educational activities, and for personal genealogical information.

Data contained within this website may only be used with permission of the copyright holder(s), for non-commercial research and educational activities, and for personal genealogical information. © 2014 by Karen Zach, and licensed to the Indiana GenWeb (INGenWeb) Project and the USGenWeb Project. May be used in personal research with a citation.

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2 January 2013