The Marquette High
boys and girls basketball teams traveled to Knightstown, Indiana, to play their counterparts from Lindbergh High on Feb. 1. Why did these schools that are 20 miles apart decide to drive 300 miles in order to play each other?
It was all about the venue. The Mustangs and Flyers had the opportunity to play in the Hoosier Gym, the main filming location for the basketball scenes from the iconic 1986 film Hoosiers
and the home of the film's fictional Hickory High Huskers.
"It's a movie I've seen a bunch of times, a classic basketball movie," said Mustangs junior Cole Petch. "Being able to play in the gym that is in the movie was a really neat opportunity and a great thing for our team."
Teams from around the country rent out the gym for games. Once they've played, they hang a jersey on the wall for posterity.
Before the trip, both the Mustangs basketball teams watched Hoosiers
, and Marquette Athletic Director Shane Matzen talked with the students about the significance of the film and the gym.
"Once they got there, they really saw how the floor, the bleachers are the same as in the movie," said math teacher and girls coach Tim Bowdern. "They walked down the tunnel and saw the locker room: the old benches, the same lockers, everything. They realized what a cool story it was and how we're a part of history playing on that court."
During the trip, the teams had the chance to practice at New Castle High's gym, one of the largest high school gyms in the country with its 9,000-seat capacity. They went to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and saw what a big deal basketball at all levels is to Indianans.
And, come game time, both teams took care of business. The girls team played first and beat Lindbergh, 62-52.
"That made the trip even better," said junior captain Kennedi Watkins. "Not only did we win, but we grew as a team and got closer because of the trip. It was the icing on the cake."
In the boys game, the Mustangs paid tribute to Hoosiers
with two key sartorial choices. Science teacher and coach Eric Schweain emulated Hickory Coach Norman Dale – Gene Hackman's character – by wearing a sweater vest, and the team wore mismatched jersey tops and shorts, just like the Huskers did in the movie.
With about a second left in the game, junior Owen Marsh hit a shot to deliver the win
to Marquette. Just like Jimmy Chitwood did for Hickory in the film.
"We got our own Jimmy Chitwood," Petch said. "Our coach always says it's not the games we're going to remember, it's the experiences outside of the games. This trip is something we all will be able to talk about for rest of our lives."