News and Tribune

High School Sports

March 27, 2013

Braves’ state title brings back great personal memories

Newspaper staffers, area coaches give perspectives on Borden title

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — The Borden Braves’ memorable run to the Class A state championship has provided joy and happiness to people within and outside of Braves Nation during the month of March — including myself.

Even though I did not grow up in Southern Indiana and I did not go to high school at Borden or any other area school, the Braves’ journey to the state crown brought back plenty of great personal memories during another state-title quest that is near and dear to my heart.

It was March of 1981 and I was just a month away from celebrating my ninth birthday.

During that time, I found out the true meaning of what “Hoosier Hysteria” was all about.

Shenandoah High School, a school in Henry County where I would eventually graduate from in 1990, had its moment in the sun in the one-class IHSAA state tournament.

Bob Heady, who recently got inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, was the Raiders’ head coach. His son, Scott, was the star guard and leader of that Shenandoah team. Scott Heady is now the head boys’ basketball coach at Carmel and has led the Greyhounds to back-to-back Class 4A state championships.

Shenandoah, which is now a Class 2A school, went 18-2 during the 1980-81 regular season and won its first New Castle Sectional championship since 1970 with a victory over Richmond in the title game.

The Raiders returned to New Castle Fieldhouse the next week to win their first-ever regional title and earned a trip to the semistate at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

After defeating South Ripley in the semistate semifinals, the Raiders played a talented Indianapolis Howe team in the semistate championship game. In a game reminiscent of the state championship game in the movie “Hoosiers,” small-school Shenandoah upset the big-school Hornets and earned a trip to the Final Four with a 57-49 victory. Scott Heady scored a game-high 26 points that night.

Unfortunately, the Raiders’ state-title quest came to an end in the IHSAA State Finals at the now-demolished Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Shenandoah lost to eventual state champion Vincennes Lincoln in the state semifinals, 72-53.

I attended at least 90 percent of the Raiders’ games that season. That included all the state tournament games, except the state semifinal.

Even though there are plenty of differences between Borden’s and Shenandoah’s state tournaments runs — like the Braves ended up state champions and the Raiders did not, and Shenandoah’s run happened during the one-class system — there were some similarities as well.

The main thing that both these tournament runs shared was how each community embraced its respective team.

Last week, I drove to Borden to do an interview for an “On the Spot” story on Braves’ senior forward Michael Lynch, who won the Class A Trester Award last Saturday.

During my drive west on Hwy. 60 as I got closer to Borden, I noticed all the signs up on local businesses and people’s yards that expressed their support for their beloved Braves.

Once I got in town, the support for the Borden players was just as strong with signs up throughout town, wishing the Braves luck in the state championship game.

There were T-shirts made for the Borden faithful to wear for every championship won during the state tournament. BHS had pep rallies for the team throughout its successful journey. Young Borden kids were going up to the Braves’ players, asking for autographs.

Several of my fellow Shenandoah fans and I experienced pretty much the same thing in ‘81.

There were plenty of signs wishing our Raiders well throughout northwestern Henry County and in the main three towns that fed into the Shenandoah school system — Middletown, Sulphur Springs and Cadiz.

My dad even made a sign for our front yard to show our family’s support.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. He made the sign before the semistate semifinal with South Ripley, which said, “Rip ‘em, Raiders.”

Like Borden, Shenandoah High School had the pre-game and postgame pep rallies and the T-shirts made to support our school. And I was one of the many little kids asking for autographs from my favorite Raider players.

It has been fun the last couple of weeks reminiscing about Shenandoah’s 1981 state tournament run, and I have the Class A state champion Borden Braves to thank for it.

I just hope everybody in Borden who was involved in this special state championship will cherish the memories as much as I cherish my alma mater’s day in the Indiana sun.

Contact Kevin Harris at kevin.harris@newsandtribune.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @NT_KevinHarris.

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