Saturday is Basketball Day in Indiana, an event organizers hope becomes an annual thing.
While numerous games will be played all around the state with special activities of various types set to go, the scene at Connersville’s Spartan Bowl should be as special as anywhere in HoosierLand.
Prior to the CHS-Pendleton Heights game, members of the Spartans’ 1972 state championship team will be recognized.
Former head coach Myron Dickerson and several players are scheduled to attend, including 1972 Mr. Basketball Phillip Cox, Gerald Thomas, Larry Miller, Jim Free and Jeff Jones.
Cox also will do something he did prior to the Spartans’ 80-63 win over Gary West in Indiana University’s Assembly Hall nearly 45 years ago, as well as numerous other times at different events — sing the National Anthem prior to the Spartans-Arabians clash.
Connersville head coach Kerry Brown said he and the Spartans players and coaching staff are happy to be part of the historical ceremony, and proud to be part of Connersville’s boys basketball history.
“For me, personally, it’s kind of a neat thing. A really neat thing,” said Brown. “I watched the (CHS-Gary West) game on TV and living in the (Lafayette) area, I got to see Gerald Thomas play a lot when he was at Purdue.
“I’ve met Myron Dickerson and spent some time with him and that was a neat and memorable experience. Of course I know Phil and Larry Miller and some of the other players and they’re all good basketball people. It’s an excellent group with a lot of camaraderie.”
The game begins at 7:30 p.m. If you can’t make it to the Bowl, you can listen to the action on Kmix 106.9 fm featuring announcers Sam Harvey and Dave Pollard. Kmix 106.9 can be accessed via the iTunes media player.
Basketball Day in Indiana events
If you’ve got a leisurely Saturday planned and have the time, you can watch several high school games featuring two of the state’s best boys players, the New Castle Trojans, who will visit Spartan Bowl on Jan. 17, an excellent girls game, the Butler Bulldogs and Indiana Pacers. All games will be broadcast on FOX Sports Indiana, and will be streamed live on FOX Sports GO.
“We expect Basketball Day in Indiana to become an annual event,” FOX Sports Indiana senior vice president and general manager Jack Donovan said in a press release. “Indiana has such a rich basketball tradition. Basketball Day in Indiana is a full day dedicated to celebrating the sport.”
“Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers and the Fever are delighted to participate in a day that will so well capture the essence of all that Indiana basketball is and represents,” said Rick Fuson, President and COO of Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
“We hope you can attend at least one of the games but if not, grab the popcorn and make it a day and night of Hoosier hoops on FOX Sports Indiana.”
Pre-recorded shows about ‘The Wigwam,’ Anderson High School’s famous gymnasium, and the ‘Milan Miracle’ special about the Indians’ 1954 state championship, will air at 8 a.m. Live coverage of the day’s events begins at 9 a.m.
FOX Sports Indiana also will broadcast live throughout the day from a set on Georgia Street, outside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Fans are invited to watch the broadcast and can take part in shooting contests on a temporary basketball court set up on the street.
“The IHSAA is ecstatic about the creation and production of a Basketball Day in Indiana. We are thrilled to partner with our friends at FOX Sports and Bankers Life Fieldhouse in creating a day celebrating the rich heritage of basketball in our state,” said Bobby Cox, Commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
“This collection of high school, college and professional basketball games from our state will truly showcase the sport which is synonymous with Indiana.”
— 10 a.m., Carmel girls vs Center Grove girls (Bankers Life Fieldhouse).
— 12 p.m., Lapel boys vs New Castle boys (Bankers Life Fieldhouse).
Lapel (3-1) is the defending Class 2A state champion. The Bulldogs host Wapahani (1-2) Friday night. New Castle (4-0) hosts Shelbyville (2-2) Friday in a Hoosier Heritage Conference game.
— 2 p.m., Indianapolis North Central boys vs New Albany boys (4th annual Forum Tipoff Classic at Southport Fieldhouse).
New Albany (2-0, 4A No. 1), the defending 4A state champion, is led by junior star Romeo Langford, a high-leaping 6-5 shooting guard who can do it all on the court.
Senior Kris Wilkes leads the way for North Central (2-0, 4A No. 2). A 6-8 forward and leading candidate for Indiana’s 2017 Mr. Basketball award, Wilkes is rated the 4th-best small forward in America and the 18th best player overall in the Class of 2017 by Scout.com.
Wilkes will attend UCLA and play for head coach Steve Alford and his assistant, former Connersville Spartan Ed Schilling.
— 4:30 p.m., Cincinnati (7-1) vs Butler (8-1) at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
— 7 p.m., Portland TrailBlazers vs Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
At 10 p.m., ‘Basketball Day in Indiana Live,’ a wrap-up show about the day’s activities, will air from the Georgia Street location.
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