It’s that time of year again. By Sunday we will know if we have one, two or no area teams returning to Indianapolis.
In the 20 years since spring of 2002 (minus the 2020 season when the finals weren’t played), Daviess and Martin County teams have been to 14 state finals on the boys’ side and four on the girls. In other words, on the boys’ side, that means there is a 70% chance some area team will have a chance on the big stage.
That is roughly the same number of appearances put up by Allen County/Fort Wayne schools, even though Allen County has a population of just under 400,000, while the combined population of Daviess and Martin is less than 43,000.
I would also venture to guess that this area would also dwarf much larger area’s with finals ticket sales to population ratio. I called Jason Wille of the IHSAA to ask if any records were kept concerning this and he said not really, but agreed that the Barr-Reeve, Loogootee and North Daviess communities probably bring around 100% of the population those areas draw from based on ticket sales for their quarter of Bankers Life Fieldhouse seating.
So what makes this area different?
Yes, class basketball has made a difference. From 1940 to 1997, only Washington and Loogootee made it to the Final Four with four total teams, and only Washington on the girls’ side. Fans were just as passionate then, but I would assume consolation, even among those that just consolidated into a Class A high school allowed teams to form earlier in elementary and everyone began to hear the same philosophies earlier from a single source.
I made a brief call to Barr-Reeve principal Jeff Doyle who has ties to Loogootee, North Daviess and now Barr-Reeve. When I asked him, he had the answer without hesitation.
“In our area, the school is the heart of the community.”
He is dead right. More than anything else, the value the community places on the school translates to passion and success of its teams. Yes, talent is a big part, but that talent is developed in those places because everyone is on the same page and everyone has the same goals. Since 2012, Sectional 63 has produced six state finalists and that is because those teams get to stare at success every day and know if they aren’t in the gym getting better, their neighbor will be.
These rivalries are real and their communities are proud of each team individually, but truthfully it may more accurate for Daviess and Martin County to look at its self as an “area” and be just as proud to be a very special basketball collective.
Here in southwestern Indiana, people understand the game of basketball and pass it down generation to generation and that seems to show up in Indianapolis year-after-year.
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