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It was a long and glorious ride for TRCPosted Wednesday, March 24, 2010, at 1:39 PM
When the final out is made and the last runner crosses the finish line this spring, it will be the end of the Tri-River Conference.
It's been a long and glorious road for the conference that was spawned in the early 60's when Terre Haute State High School, Terre Haute Schulte, Clay City, Shakamak, Rosedale, Union (Dugger), Van Buren, Montezuma and Staunton joined efforts to form the conference.
The end was almost inevitable with all but two schools, North Central and Eminence, holding dual membership in both the TRC and Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conferences.
The Thunderbirds will join the SWIAC following the season while the Eels will look elsewhere.
With the swan song of the conference on the horizon, I thought it would nice to see what information I could drum up.
Well, let me tell you it wasn't the easiest thing in the world. But thanks to those little basketball handbooks that we all used to collect when we were kids, the Indiana Basketball Web Site maintained by John Harrell, the IHSAA.org and various people, I managed to put together a brief but spotty history of the conference.
Let me say first that while the conference began sometime in the mid-1960's, I don't have an exact year so I took that into account when figuring different parts of the story.
There was also a three-year gap in the information I was able to obtain (from the 1984-85 through 1986-87 school years), so if there's a mistake consider that as well.
Through the years only three teams -- Union (Dugger), Clay City and Shakamak -- have remained members while the rest of the surrounding cast has changed due to consolidation and moving to other conferences.
The first to leave apparently was Terre Haute Schulte in the mid-1970's and were followed by Terre Haute State Lab which closed it's doors following the 1977-78 school year.
The next round of losses to the TRC came when Rosedale and Montezuma became part of the Riverton Parke school district and Staunton and Van Buren were merged with Northview.
As for additions that kept the conference going they included the North Central Thunderbirds in 1977-78, which overlapped with the loss of Terre Haute State and two other schools permanently and one other temporarily.
Added to the league sometime during a three-year span were the Eels of Eminence High School.
While the information that I was able to obtain didn't give me insight into the exact year, it does lead me to believe they joined between the 1984-85 and 87-88 school years making them the last school to join the conference.
The farthest geographically from other schools, the Eels became TRC members.
That information comes to me from former North Central boys basketball coach Glenn Andrew, who last piloted the Thunderbirds until handing the reigns over to Ryan Kamman four seasons ago.
Andrew told me that Eminence had no other conference in their area and were invited to take part in TRC play, something that despite a lot of effort, didn't afford them very much overall success.
They never won a conference crown in boys basketball and have never won more than four games in the conference that I could find.
With consolidation and closings, the conference remained small until the 1990's when they finally drew new blood to the league.
They added a pair of schools, one of which would stick around until the end, and one that would move on when other conference opportunities arose.
The Linton-Stockton Miners became a part of the TRC during the 1991-92 season and have been a member ever since.
In that short length of time, the Miners boys program has won six conference titles in boys hoops, been unbeaten once and went winless in the division for the first time this season.
Overall the Miners are 54-44 in TRC play.
The other school to play a TRC conference schedule was the Golden Arrows of Sullivan.
They were members of the conference between the 1986-87 and 1998-99 school years.
During that span they won or shared six conference titles, went unbeaten in conference play four times and lost only one game in the conference four times.
During their run the Golden Arrows never lost more than three games in any year and sported a combined 53-15 record before joining the re-formed Western Indiana Conference of which they remain a member.
Andrew said in the days prior to consolidation, the TRC made for some very good match-ups and very solid conference races.
He said "it was a very good conference and had a lot of close games and finishes."
He went on to say that "you never who was going to win the conference it was usually close."
There's only one school while a member of the TRC to ever make it to the state finals in boys' hoops and that was the Union (Dugger) Bulldogs in 2000.
With Brody Boyd taking the point, the nine-time TRC champion Bulldogs run to the Class A final in Conseco Fieldhouse is the deepest run in Hoosier Hysteria of any TRC boys squad.
There have been journeys in other sports, such as Shakamak's state baseball title and the Lady Miners and Lady Bulldogs' runner-up softball trophies and North Central's softball state semifinal appearance, but that's another story for another time.
As far as winning sectionals while retaining membership in the conference in boys basketball, Clay City has captured six, Eminence one, Montezuma one, North Central two, Rosedale one, Shakamak six, Sullivan four, Terre Haute State one, Union (Dugger) four and Van Buren four.
At the regional level just a handful of TRC boys teams have had success.
Four teams -- Clay City, North Central, Shakamak and Union (Dugger) -- have one regional title and Sullivan won two while in the TRC.
Well, that pretty much does it for a retrospective of the league and the years that have passed.
While the need for it is no longer around, the memories it gave us will likely last a lifetime for those involved in it.
Goodbye, farewell and thanks TRC for what you've given us.
Rick Curl is a sportswriter for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487 ext. 20 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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