The Student News Site of Perry Meridian High School


The Student News Site of Perry Meridian High School


The Student News Site of Perry Meridian High School


Hoosier Hysteria

The history of hoops in Indiana
Yaime Jorge
Lady Falcons take on the Southport Cardinals in a packed rivalry game at the historic Southport Fieldhouse.

Everyone has heard the saying, “In 49 states it’s just basketball, but this is Indiana!” But what does that mean to the coaches, fans and players of the state? What does it mean to those who give up their time just to be a part of the culture that is Indiana basketball? Often hailed as the basketball state, Indiana has a rich history on the hard court, which has transcended and grown for generations. Different levels of involvement and experiences within the game have given the community many distinct narratives that shape the culture of the game.

The backbone and heart of the game are the coaches. Whether a coach does it professionally or is a volunteer in their free time, coaches influence players’ love for the game and push each individual to be their best self.

“My goal is to help young players have fun while learning the game of basketball,” Perry Meridian girls basketball coach Denise McClanahan said, “I am one of those coaches that show my players that I genuinely care more about them as a person, not just as a player.”

Even though coaches give so much back to the community, it is not usually done for money or fame but is sparked by personal experience from playing and wanting to grow the game.
“I was a very average player, but I always had that love for basketball, and when it came time, I really wanted to coach basketball,” longtime Lady Falcon, and current Franklin Community, basketball coach Mike Armstrong said.

Falcons overflow student section during their senior night game against the Whiteland warriors on 12/9/22. (Jaque)

Not only did Armstong have incredible memories of playing and coaching, but he also has unparalleled memories of being a spectator. As a student at Perry Meridian, he was able to witness “our first ever Sectional Championship in 1976, it was very exciting.” He saw rising legends too. “My first year at Indiana State we had a guy by the name of Larry Bird, and he helped us become the national runner-up in 1979,” Armstrong said.

Legends like Bird, the recently passed Bob Knight and so many more create memories that last lifetimes for fans. Indiana basketball relies on the players and coaches, but it thrives off the fans.
“It stemmed from Friday nights, going to the local basketball game in the 60s being the only thing to do in town. Basketball was everything,” Land of Legends basketball exhibit employee Delmar Kinslow said, “All the town would come together and go to the games, and even go out and celebrate afterward.”

Moments like these are what shaped Indiana basketball and the fans are what make it that much better than any other state. Players match the energy coming from the stands which creates an experience like no other.

“The movie Hoosiers defines it for me,” retired journalist and long-time Indiana basketball fan Jeff Mullins said. “The support that the local communities would have for the team meant a lot.”

High school games alone provide an environment like no other in Indiana. Of the 12 biggest high school gyms in America, 10 are in Indiana, and some of them are nearly 100 years old. These venues are monuments to the importance of fans around the state. Even schools like Perry Meridian, with less basketball history, have great experiences and moments within the game.

“We like to make it a real true home court advantage, which all starts with the fans,” senior Cayden Nolan said. “It’s also great being able to stay a part of the game. And to express my joy and passion for the game as a fan is an incredible experience.”

Attending games for students is a way for them to be involved in the game without playing in it. Throughout the years, students have been creative in supporting their schools.
“At home games especially, there is a very competitive environment,” junior basketball player Colton Phillips said. “It’s always loud because basketball is the most important sport in Indiana.”

The importance of basketball in the state has always stemmed from its rich history. As young players learn and experience the game through older generations, they begin to understand the effects of basketball culture on themselves and others.

“It’s just so important to know the history, and just begin to grow and continue to grow the love for basketball in young players,” former Indiana Fever forward Chelsey Perry said.
Even for a player who grew up playing in Tennessee, Perry appreciates the love for the game in Indiana. “Living in Indiana and knowing that this state loves basketball as much as I do, has made this state a second home for me,” Perry said.

Players like Perry grow up playing basketball as one of their first sports. As they progress and grow, they continue to improve their skills on the court while gaining all the memories along the way. “At the YMCA when I was 5 and fell in love with it,” Kaleigh Butts, a three-year varsity player, said.

Family also plays a big part in the culture of Indiana Basketball. Looking back at accomplishments family members achieved and seeing the younger generations playing, bonds families together through basketball.

“My mom and dad both played basketball so when they introduced it to me they were both very excited that I caught on quickly,” Butts said.

Indiana State Fair Chuck Taylor Exhbit exemplifies the rich history of basketball in the state. (Ian Miles)

Although, Butts’ experience is not unique. “My dad got me into basketball and taught me all the old-school stuff he had learned,” Phillips said.

It is not just a game for Indiana, and it is not always about the wins and losses. “The passion for the game is unmatched,” Mullins said. “whether the players or fans, it’s something you can only experience in this great state.”

While Indiana may not be the birthplace of basketball it is certainly a home for it. At every level, basketball has shaped Indiana’s history by bringing dreams to life and creating a tradition that has been built from the ground up. For years to come, basketball will shape the state of Indiana and be considered the basketball capital of the world.

The recently passed, legendary Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight said it best at Southport Fieldhouse, “I want to say to you Indiana people that I owe you a big, big debt of gratitude because nowhere in the world is a sporting group followed more than this state follows basketball. And I just want to thank you for the opportunity that I had to coach in this state – it will always be something that I will cherish.”

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