By KEVIN HARRIS
> 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 email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @NT_KevinHarris.
BORDEN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP PERSPECTIVES
Jim Shannon: “The young men and coaching staff from Borden High School represented their school, community, and southern Indiana in a positive light. They are also to be commended for the teamwork they displayed throughout the tournament.”
Brandon Hoffman, Silver Creek head coach: “It was awesome to follow Borden to the State Championship as both a basketball fan and area coach. Throughout the postseason, they displayed characteristics that every coach dreams of; commitment to the team instead of self, intense focus on the gameplan, toughness in any environment and the willingness to make a play. That shows the character and talent that Borden’s players and coaches had. I’ve known Doc for almost 20 years as a fellow player and coach and consider him a good friend and competitor. I am happy for him to achieve the such a great honor as a State Champion. With Borden being a fellow West Clark school, many members of our program are friends and in some cases relatives of players for the Braves. I know it has inspired me personally and our players even more to get to work for next season and enjoy postseason success for ourselves.”
Chris Brown, Rock Creek Academy head coach: “I would just like to say that Coach Nash has done an outstanding job at Borden. We have had some great games over the last several years and he always has his teams ready to play. They have totally bought in to his philosophy and system. His teams epitomize what teams are really about. This team he had was very unselfish. They were resilient. They answered every call that teams threw at them. It was amazing to watch them play and also refreshing. Because they just wanted to do one thing, WIN. And WIN they did. Congratulations on your state title. You will be a state champion for life. What an awesome accomplishment!”
Steve Kerberg, Christian Academy head coach: “Borden’s success was not an accident or luck, they reaped the benefits of working hard. This team was tough, gritty, and hard-nosed. They are a great illustration of what a team can accomplish when team is placed before individuality. They truly made all of Southern Indiana proud.”
Terry Rademacher, Borden girls’ head coach: “Congratulations to the Borden Boys’ Basketball team for bringing another state championship to Southern Indiana. You have created a lifetime of great memories for the Borden community.”
Toby Cheatham, Borden athletic director: “Thank you for your continued efforts in building the PROGRAM we have today! Our school and community are so very proud of the young men that represented our school on the biggest stage of their High School career!”
Brad Burden, Providence girls’ basketball head coach: “Congrats to Borden High School on their state championship. The school, the community, it’s players and their coach represent themselves, Southern Indiana and the game of basketball in a great way. All of us in the Southern Indiana community are proud of you. Thanks for bringing another title back to the area!”
Scott Schoen, Silver Creek girls’ head coach: “Congratulations to Doc Nash and the Borden community. It was exciting to watch an inspired disciplined team play. Proof of not only great coaching but selfless ambitions of a team. Ubuntu at its greatest. Congratulations!”
Matt Koesters, News Reporter: “If you had told me that Borden would be celebrating a state championship at the end of this season, I wouldn’t have believed it. But the Braves never believed they couldn’t do it, and that’s a testament to the quality of the kids on the team and the coaching job done by Doc Nash. One-point victories, come-from-behind wins — you couldn’t have written a better script, nor a happier ending. Congratulations to the boys, their familes, the coaching staff, the athletic department, the boosters and everyone else who made this championship possible. You’ve done Southern Indiana proud.”
Joe Ullrich, Freelance Photographer: “Being a photographer I get to view a sporting event from a little bit different angle than most. I must admit, after following the Borden team a few times in the regular season, I really didn’t realize how special this group of kid actually were — until they won the regional finals. Viewing the toughness of these kids through my camera, up close and personal, I started believing they could win it all. It was an amazing journey for all those involved and I am humbled to have been able to document this fabulous journey for the entire Borden nation!”
Mike Riley, Sports Correspondent: “Congrats to the Braves and coach Doc Nash. When class basketball became a reality, I knew eventually one of the smaller schools in the area would win a championship. However, I’ll admit that Borden wasn’t the school that came to mind. So again, congrats on a great job. Will it be reload or rebuild next year? It doesn’t matter, You’ve set the standard from which future Borden teams will be compared to and nothing can change that. Can’t wait to see the pictures and banners hanging in the gym next season.”
Greg Mengelt, Sports Editor: “Borden answered every challenge that came its way — and it did it with class.”