‘Indiana basketball is like nothing else:’ Delaware County boys’ basketball teams compete in the state tournament

Senior Isaac Andrews shoots the ball against Monroe Central Feb. 9 at Monroe Central High School. Andrew Berger, DN
Senior Isaac Andrews shoots the ball against Monroe Central Feb. 9 at Monroe Central High School. Andrew Berger, DN

The 1986  movie “Hoosiers” was inspired by the 1954 Milan High School boys’ basketball team, a 1A team that defeated Muncie Central (4A) in the Indiana state championship that season. 

The film tells the story of a team that goes through the same journey and depicts what basketball means to the state. It shows the little town of Hickory shut down to travel with the Huskers as they march through the state tournament. 

It’s arguably one of the most iconic sports films ever made, and most Indiana and non-Indiana sports fans have probably watched it. 

But it’s been 38 years since the film that starred Gene Hackman as head coach Norman Dale hit theaters. Does the aura of the game still surround the tournament? 

To the coaches and players that take part in it, absolutely. 

“It’s the community,” Wapahani head coach Matt Luce said. “Many people have said since class basketball started in 1998, that things have changed. I don’t think they have, and even here in our small town of Selma, it’s still very special. We always have great crowds, and have a lot of families and fans that just want to see our guys play.”

For players that have been around Indiana basketball most of their lives, like Wapahani senior Isaac Andrews, other states pale in comparison to Indiana basketball.

“Indiana basketball is like nothing else,” Andrews said. “I’ve played AAU in other states, and across the country and seen those high school gyms. It’s not nearly what it is here in Indiana.”

Throughout the 2023-24 season, there has been storyline after storyline. Andrews broke the school's scoring record and is on pace for the Delaware County scoring record. Daleville senior Meryck Adams became the Broncos’ leader in 3-pointers made in a career. 

“It's certainly been one of the more competitive areas across the board,” Muncie Central head coach Justin Ullom said. “If you look at the teams, even down to the 1A teams, they have been really competitive.”

Screen Shot 2024-02-02 at 7.41.23 AM.png
Muncie Central senior guard DeMarkis Cole shoots a three-point basket against Marion Feb. 1 at Muncie Fieldhouse. David Moore, DN

Out of the eight Delaware County teams, Wapahani (19-2), Delta (16-6), Daleville (12-9) and Yorktown (12-9) finished with the best overall records. They all have one thing in common: There are multiple seniors on their rosters.

“It gives us an idea of consistency,” Luce said. “Our guys know what to expect, and they know the procedure through the postseason.”

While having experienced players helps, knowledge also helps in the head coaching role. 

“Ultimately, when the ball is tipped up, I’m not sure how much [experience] means,” Luce said. “You’re either going to be ready and play the right way and keep your emotions in check or your season will be over.”

This season, two new commanders-in-chiefs took over programs. Those were Wes-Del (8-13) head coach Josh Burkett and Burris (4-18) head coach Blair Broussard.

While Burkett has been a head coach in the tournament, this was Broussard’s first rodeo. 

“I’m blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity,” Broussard said. “It’s even bigger because I got to take place with my alma mater, and to see these guys wearing the same name that was on the front of my jersey when I played is something special.”

Burris HC Blair Broussard speaks.jpg
Burris head coach Blair Broussard speaks to the Owls during a timeout Nov. 28 in a game against Frankton at Ball Gym. Zach Carter, DN.

While the record may not display the success Broussard wanted to see, his goal was to get kids interested in the program to build for the future. He believes sectional play can be a springboard for continuing to build his culture.

“We’re definitely heading in the right direction,” Broussard said. “Two things I emphasized when I first met these guys was that we want to compete, and we want to improve. Looking at it now, I can’t say there isn’t a single kid we have in this program that isn’t better now from when they started the season.”

When it comes to coaches that have been around for a number of years, the tournament is at a place where it should remain.

“I’m an old guy, I like tradition,” Delta head coach Mark Detweiler said. “I know there's so much talk about how this should change, the way the sectional is drawn should change. I just think it's something with the Indiana rivalries. I think that’s what makes our particular tournament really good.”

Detweiler is in his seventh season as the Eagles head coach and has been a high school head coach for 26 seasons. The rivalry angle he drew attention to is not far off. Both Yorktown and Delta – one of the bigger rivalries in Delaware County – will play in Sectional 24 at New Castle High School. 

Looking around the county at seniors like Andrews and Delta’s Jackson Wors, there have been multiple players that have given the area teams success. While their skills on the court are valuable, Detweiler believes it’s their attitude that has made them into great leaders. 

“They care, and I think in this day and age sometimes when you know there's not enough of that, we're just fortunate to have a bunch of guys and families that really truly do care about doing things with basketball the right way,” he said. “[Guys like Andrews] are guys that we have tremendous respect for.”

When Wors first moved to Indiana, the first thing that caught his eye was the talent that this state has produced in its rich basketball history. Seeing that as a child is a big reason why Wors has such a love for Indiana basketball.

“We’d go watch Kyle Guy at Lawrence Central,” Wors said. “Seeing guys like that who are really special basketball players and seeing the energy they brought to the game when you’re a little kid is really special.”

The first round saw Yorktown defeat Centerville 64-45 on Tuesday. On Wednesday evening, Muncie Central defeated Richmond 54-51, Wes-Del defeated Burris 66-29, and Wapahani and Delta both picked up wins. 

Contact Zach Carter with comments at zachary.carter@bsu.edu or on X @ZachCarter85.

Contact David Moore with comments at david.moore@bsu.edu or on X @gingninj63.


More from The Daily

This Week's Digital Issue

Loading Recent Classifieds...