LOOGOOTEE — In March, the Loogootee boys basketball team won its first state championship, and now the Lions will have its own banner.
The reigning Class A state champion Lions will unveil the banner honoring last year's state championship team prior to today's varsity game against Washington at Jack Butcher Arena.
When Loogootee defeated Rockville, 55-52, March 24 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, coach Mike Wagoner accomplished a goal that had alluded Lions players and coaches for decades.
Wagoner himself suffered heartbreak in the state tournament trying to reach that goal during his time as a player for Loogootee under Hall of Fame head coach Jack Butcher.
"We've been close a lot, four or five times," Wagoner said. "We were a state finalist in 1970, and it was a neat experience in 1975, I was a sophomore on that team. To me with the one-class system, it meant so much, but now with the class system it's all the kids know. It's just exciting to win a state championship, it's meant a lot to all the fans, they've been waiting for it for years. It's almost like everyone had a sigh of relief that we finally got one." Now looking back at his playing days from a different perspective, Wagoner appreciates all that it took to complete the journey. Wagoner appreciates the fact that coaching this team in this town is something he always strived to do, and now that he¹s doing it, it¹s a truly satisfying feeling.
"I love the fact that the Lion legacy, and the way the Loogootee players are, they have a certain way they play around here, and they never changed," Wagoner said. "We do things fundamentally the right way, and I've always wanted to be a part of that. I'm so thankful that I could be on Coach (Jack) Butcher's staff for so many years. It's one of those things where this is what I wanted to do, and I've been doing it for 27, 28 years. A lot of people can't say they love what they do, and I've been lucky." The current players returning from last year's state championship- winning team realize that this is an honor that will not just be experienced and celebrated by the players last year's team.