An historic event took place Saturday – historic for Greene County high school basketball.
For the first time in history two Greene County teams won regional championships and advance to the semistate – the Bloomfield Cardinals and the Linton Miners.
The Cardinals will have a rematch with the Barr-Reeve Vikings in the Class A semistate at the Hatchet House in Washington. The teams met in the regular-season finale at Bloomfield, the Vikings winning 42-34.
The Miners will take on the Shenandoah Raiders in the 2A Seymour Semistate.
As Linton coach Joey Hart noted, the last time the Miners were in the semistate in 2015 there were two Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference teams to reach the penultimate round – 2A Linton and 1A Clay City.
But there had never been two Greene County teams until now.
This marks the fourth semistate appearance for Bloomfield in the era of class basketball. The three previous were in 2016 and the first two years of the multi-class tournament, 1998 and 1999. The 2016 and 1998 teams reached the State Final.
Bloomfield has been to eight semistates overall.
It is the third trip to the semistate round for Linton. The Miners were 2A state finalists in 2013.
White River Valley has two in the multi-class era (2002, 2004). Eastern Greene (2001) and Shakamak (2006) each have one.
As you can see, there have never been two in the same year. Until now.
“That’s tremendous,” Bloomfield coach Ron McBride said of two county teams making the semistate the same year.
“Every time I’ve talked to the media through the years I always tell everybody – here in the southern part of Indiana, we’ve got great coaches down here. We’ve got fans that are knowledgeable of the game.
“Sometimes too knowledgeable,” he quipped. “Sometimes we’ve got too many coaches in this gymnasium.”
On a more serious note, McBride continued.
“I’ve said this all along. I always brag up the southern part of Indiana, around this area here and how we’ve had great coaches and players. What this shows is we still have good basketball here. When you come and play against teams down in southern Indiana you may beat them. But when you leave at least you know you’ve been in a battle.”
Hart likes the Cardinals’ chances in Bloomfield-Barr-Reeve, Part Two.
“It will be interesting,” the Linton coach said. “I know it’ll be a different game than it was a few weeks ago.”
Hart said Bloomfield continued to get better as the year progressed.
“You could see them getting better as they were playing us,” he said. “They got smarter, they got more efficient.
“They played really hard against us. I thought both of our games were really good games. We were very fortunate to win them.”
Obviously having two teams from Greene County reach the semistate the same year wouldn’t be possible without class basketball.
I’m an old-timer and the single-class tournament had a certain charm and nostalgia, especially when the small school knocked off the big school. It’s one reason I enjoy the First Financial Wabash Valley Classic so much.
My colleague, Andrew Bowen is a staunch opponent of class basketball. And I totally understand his perspective.
Andrew went to school at Milltown through seventh grade before moving across the Crawford County line to Harrison County.
In 1970 the Milltown Millers knocked off mighty Jeffersonville, 78-75 in the first round of the Huntingburg Regional, then defeated North Harrison that night in the regional final.
But the Milltown Millers are no more, gobbled up by the Crawford County Wolfpack, along with the English Red Raiders, the Leavenworth Wyandottes and the Marengo Cavemen.
I have a similar Hoosier Hysteria recollection.
In the 1968 Huntingburg Regional the Holland Dutchmen – my dad’s alma mater – beat the Paoli Rams in the semifinal, only to lose a heartbreaker to the Jeff Red Devils 72-70.
That Holland team featured future Evansville Purple Ace and Indiana Pacer Don Buse.
But alas, the Dutchmen have been planting tulips since 1972. And the Huntingburg Happy Hunters have gone on to the Happy Hunting Ground In The Sky.
Holland and Huntingburg merged to form Southridge in the fall of 1972.
The wave of consolidations wiped out many of the nostalgic names of the past. And since then, the bigs have gotten bigger and the smalls have gotten smaller.
But you can’t convince me at least a few smaller schools can’t compete.
There’s plenty of evidence right here they can.
Remember the L&M Braves from 1984 and 1985? The Bloomfield Cardinals in 1986 and 1994? The first three White River Valley teams, from 1991-1993?
And not too far from here I followed the Loogootee Lions on their journey through the Evansville Semistate to Market Square Arena. Loogootee embarrassed Columbus North 51-29 in the Final Four before falling to the Marion Giants in the championship game.
The Union Bulldogs in 1997 might have had the IHSAA reconsidering its move to class basketball the following season.
I’m afraid now there’s no going back. The cat’s been out of the bag for over 20 years now.
But the beauty of class basketball is this – we have two Greene County teams going to the semistate.
And who knows? Maybe next week there will be two Greene County teams at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the State Finals.