Classes Still Create Hoosier Hysteria

July 27, 2017

By Rob Kaminski
MHSAA benchmarks editor

This is the fourth part in a series on MHSAA tournament classification, past and present, that will be published over the next two weeks. This series originally ran in this spring's edition of MHSAA benchmarks.

Twenty years ago, Bloomington North High School won the Indiana High School Athletic Association boys basketball championship, defeating Delta 75-54 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

The date, March 22, 1997, is at the same time revered and disdained by traditionalists in the state who saw it as the last schoolboy championship game the state would ever host.

That’s how devout the game of basketball, particularly interscholastic basketball, had become in the Hoosier state during the 87 years a state champion – one state champion, to be precise – was crowned.

Following that 1997 season, the IHSAA moved to a four-class system for its roundball tournaments, like so many of its state association counterparts had done years earlier.

It would be shocking to find more than a small percentage of current high school basketball players around the country unfamiliar with the iconic movie Hoosiers, even though the film is now more than 30 years old.

And, the storyline for that blockbuster unfolded more than 30 years prior to its release, when small-town, undermanned Milan High School defeated Muncie Central High School 32-30 in the 1954 IHSAA title game.

Perhaps it’s because of the David vs Goliath notion, or the fame of the movie that replaced Milan with the fictional Hickory and real-life star Bobby Plump with Hollywood hero Jimmy Chitwood, or the simple fact that Indiana had something other states didn’t.

Whatever the reason, plenty of opposition remains to this day to basketball classification in the state.

The fact is, the small rural schools were regularly being beaten handily by the much larger suburban and city schools as the tournament progressed each season.

Small schools also were closing at a rapid rate following the state’s School Reorganization Act in 1959, as students converged on larger, centralized county schools. From 1960 to 2000, the number of schools entering the tournament dropped from 694 to 381, and in 1997 a total of 382 schools and 4,584 athletes began competition at the Sectional level (the first level of the IHSAA Basketball Tournament).

It was at the entry level of the tournament where school administrators felt the pain of the new class system, but not necessarily for the same nostalgic reasons as the fans who either attended or boycotted the tournament.

At the Sectional round of the tournament, the IHSAA was culling just 2 percent of the revenue, with the participating schools splitting the balance. So, when Sectional attendance dropped by 14 percent in that first year of class basketball, many schools realized a financial loss. It was money they had grown to count on in prior years to help fund various aspects of the department.

Schools cumulatively received more than $900,000 from Sectional competition in 1998, but that total was down from more than $1 million in the last year of the single-class tournament.

Yet, the current format provides a great deal more opportunity and realistic chances at championship runs for schools of all enrollments.

To date, 60 additional teams have championship or runner-up trophies on display in school trophy cases around Indiana.

That was the mission in front of then-IHSAA commissioner Bob Gardner (now National Federation executive director) once the board made its decision: to give thousands more student-athletes the opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

As any statistician knows, figures can be manipulated to tell any side of a story. Declining attendance in year one of class basketball is such a number.

The truth is tournament attendance had been on a steady downward spiral since its peak of just over 1.5 million in 1962. By the last single-class event in 1997, the total attendance was half that.

The challenge then and today, as it is for all state associations, is to find that delicate balance for those holding onto tradition, those holding onto trophies, and the number of trophies to hand out.

Editor’s Note: Stories from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in 1998 and from a 2007 issue of Indianapolis Monthly provided facts in this article.

St. George's Senior Season Filled with Historic Trip, Sizzling 3-Point Shooting

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 21, 2024

Delaney St. George helped Kingston reach its first MHSAA Girls Basketball Final this winter – and along the way finished her high school career among the most prolific 3-point shooters in state history.

The four-year varsity senior made 87 3-pointers this season for the Division 4 runner-up Cardinals, good to tie for 10th on the single-season list after she made 93 as a junior to rank fourth all-time.

She finished her Kingston career with 290 3-pointers in 793 attempts over 94 games – good for second on the career 3-pointers list.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA girls basketball record book, and click on the heading to see the record book in full.

Girls Basketball

Hemlock’s 18-6 run this season was fueled in part by more successful 3-point shooting. The Huskies made single-season lists with 170 3-pointers and 552 attempts, and also for making 14 3-pointers Jan. 5 against St. Louis.

Senior Mia McLaughlin made nine of 15 3-point shots for Frankenmuth in a Feb. 6 win over Birch Run as the Eagles made the team record book list with 15 3-pointers total. They also were added for 14 3-pointers in a Feb. 20 win over Bay City John Glenn. McLaughlin will continue her career at Ferris State.

McBain sophomore Peyton Grant scored all 27 of her points Jan. 17 against Houghton Lake on nine 3-pointers to make the single-game list in that category.

Seniors Autumn Tremblay and Ceara LeBlanc earned Brimley’s first girls basketball record book listings this season. Both made single-game lists in a Feb. 27 win over Harbor Springs Harbor Light Christian – Tremblay scored 21 points during the first quarter and LeBlanc had 16 steals for the game – and LeBlanc also was added for 141 steals total over 25 games this past winter.

Reed City’s run at the Central State Activities Association title this winter was fueled in part by 3-point shooting. The Coyotes finished one game out of first, but made the records with 517 3-point attempts over 24 games – and just missed the made 3-pointers list connecting on 143.

Howell sophomore Gabrielle Piepho added her third record book listing over her first two seasons this winter making 89.2 percent of her free throw attempts to rank eighth on that single-season list. Howell as a team also made the 3-point attempts list with 536 over 25 games, and also just missed the 3-pointers made list with 146.

Saline finished the 2023-24 season among the all-time leading 3-point shooters again, this time with 192 – 14th-most for one season – in 587 attempts over 24 games. Sophomore Keira Roehm led the way with 78 3-pointers, tying for 21st on that list.

Junior Tamerah Peterson led Sterling Heights Parkway Christian to a District title this season, providing a record-setting defensive boost in addition to her offensive skills. She finished with 173 steals – eighth-most for one season – over 21 games.

Niles Brandywine reached Breslin Center this season with another stellar distance shooting display, making the record book with both 186 3-pointers and 610 attempts from beyond the arc in finishing Division 3 runner-up.

Alie Bisballe capped her career at Lake City this winter by helping her team reach the Division 3 Semifinal at Breslin Center – and by reaching the MHSAA girls basketball record book in two categories. The 6-foot-4 post player made the lists with 329 rebounds and 188 blocked shots, both in 28 games as Lake City finished 25-3. She will continue her career at Wisconsin.

Ironwood junior Hanna Vaughn will enter her final season next winter already on the career 3-pointers list. She’s made 155 3-pointers over her first three seasons and 70 games on varsity.

PHOTO Kingston’s Delaney St. George (10) pulls up for a shot during the Division 4 Final against Ishpeming.