Friday, October 27, 2017

Hey, there, Warrior Team...

I wrote the article in March of 1990, but the memories are from March of 1968. Maybe I should have kept this until March of 2018, when it will be 50 years since our school went to the dance, but I found it today and basketball season's coming on fast, so here it is. Tweaked a little, but not much. Do you remember?
March 8, 1968 Peru Tribune

We were just a little bitty school out in the sticks. We'd never won the championship in anything but livestock judging. If we went over 50-50 in basketball, it was an outstanding season. If we made it though the sectional without any snowstorms or other similar tragedies, it was going to be a good spring.

But then it was 1968, and I was a senior in high school. There were 92 of us, and the only thing some of us wanted remember about school was getting out of it in May and never, never having to go back.

Until we won the Logansport sectional.

It was, in the vernacular of a subsequent generation, awesome.

By the time we--we being North Miami--had advanced to the final game of the sectional, every cheering section in Logansport's famous Berry Bowl was rooting for us. Everybody except the Berries themselves, that is, and you couldn't really blame them. After all, we were beating them.

The motorcade going home from Logansport was nearly endless, and we were escorted part of the way by police and fire vehicles. Once back on our own turf, we filled the gym well past capacity and had an impromptu pep session in the middle of the night. It was our first sectional and local media were touting us as the Cinderella ball team.

The week at school passed in a blur of pep sessions and days of wearing strange clothing and classes spent talking about basketball in the hushed-by-hoarseness voices that abound after an exciting ball game.

Come Friday, we were still whispering, but we all piled into the fan buses or attached ourselves to the motorcade and went to the regional. Once there, the whispers gave way to screams and--wonder of holy wonders--LITTLE NORTH MIAMI WON THE WHOLE THING!

The line of cars going back to school was even longer this time. We were accompanied by even more flashing red lights. The gym bulged precariously at the seams. The little school in the boonies had become "the mouse that roared."

We even had a slogan, given to us by the coach of a neighboring school. "We're not satisfied!" became the Warrior battle cry. It reached the point that some of the players grimaced whenever they heard those three words, and they heard them at every turn. Signs cropped up in cornfields that proclaimed the area to be "Warrior Country." Cinderella's night went on.

The following Saturday, still whispering, we loaded up and went to Lafayette to the semi-state. We won the first game. We had advanced from the Sweet Sixteen to being one of only eight teams left. The mouse roared even louder.

But that night, the Warriors met the team who would become 1968's state champions, and the ball was over. The proverbial clock struck midnight, and we went home in defeat. We lost, but we were satisfied.

And now it's 1990. I have screamed my way through my own son's high school basketball career and am now in the process of screaming my way though his brother's football career. 1968 is long ago and far away.

Or is it? Sometimes when I'm in the gym--my kids go to the same school I did--I can close my eyes and remember how it felt in there on those victorious nights.

And sometimes when things get difficult and success seems to be an unknown quality destined to escape me forever, I remember what was accomplished by the little team that could.

North Miami basketball has never reached the semi-state again, but the memory of that long-ago journey lingers on with many of us.

We were, for a brief, shining time, the Cinderella school. And the dance we attended was grand. Just grand.

2017: Thanks to Dale Jones, Mike Coffing, Randy Smith, Mike Walters, Dave Collins, Frank Miller, Roger Grismore, Mike Devine, Mike Skinner, Gary Baker, Bob Pontius, Dick Moyer, and Coach Jerry Lewis (as well as anyone I may have missed) for giving so many of us such a great thing to keep in the memory banks.

No comments:

Post a Comment