Gym brings back memories

Maybe the stat of the night from last Friday's North Side Gym 50th anniversary celebration didn't come from the game.
Posted on Dec. 7, 2004 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 7, 2004 at 1:29 a.m.

Maybe the stat of the night from last Friday's North Side Gym 50th anniversary celebration didn't come from the game.

Maybe it's that only one commemorative mini-ball bounced back onto the court out of the hundreds that were hurriedly thrown into the stands by cheerleaders just before the start of the fourth quarter.

That's how tightly people gripped onto anything related to the evening, literally as well as figuratively.

And why wouldn't they? North Side brings back rich memories for any true boys high school basketball fan who has lived in Elkhart for any reasonable amount of time.

Appropriately, it was a championship performance that was delivered by the committee of Nancy Banks, Jenny Cunningham, Ted Foland, Connie Fulmer, Jim Pettit, Mary Jo Sartorius, Paul Thomas and Bob Woods, a group that organized the celebration in conjunction with the Central-Memorial game.

An attendance figure hasn't been finalized, but the estimate has been hiked by ticket official Lynn Garrard to 4,500. A previously lower estimate was partially a result of a broken gate counter.

Fans were treated to a Blue Blazer-Crimson Charger showdown worthy of the trappings -- a game that was close nearly all the way before being explosively capped off by back-to-back dunks from Central's Mauri Miller and Derek Drews that served, if you will, as pseudo ballpark fireworks in a 61-51 Blazer victory.

Before the game, fans were able to check out the four corner display cases chock full of gloriously maintained memorabilia that was offered by many individuals. Those displays are scheduled to remain for the entire season.

There was also a hallway display of intriguing, blown-up photos showing North Side at various stages of construction, along with photos of 1950s game action.

Copies of those photos and more were packed into a beautifully designed keepsake booklet.

There were 3,000 of those booklets handed out, to go with 1,000 of those mini-balls on hand.

In the cafeteria, about 130 invited guests were treated to a pregame dinner.

Before the varsity tip-off, members of the 1954-55 Elkhart High Blue Blazers -- North Side's first team -- were introduced, as were all EHS, Central and Memorial past and present coaches in attendance.

"As somebody else said to me, only in Indiana would 5,000 people come together to celebrate the birthday of a gymnasium," said Woods, director of business operations for Elkhart Community Schools.

"We're very pleased with how the night turned out," Woods said Monday. "The comments I got from fans at the game were very positive, and I've had several e-mails today, all positive."

About the only negatives were those little "This Section Closed" signs leading to the crows' nests.

Nevertheless, the bar's been set for the 100th anniversary celebration, and don't bet that North Side won't still be the best gym around then.

Coach collection: Foland's research in the process of putting together an invitation list revealed that there have been 42 assistant coaches in Elkhart boys high school basketball during the North Side era.

That's really not that many when considering that there have been two schools for the last 33 seasons now, and that the number of counted assistants on a staff at a time has been as high as five.

Joe Harvey had the longest tenure as an assistant at North Side, coaching EHS during the Blazers' first 16 seasons there. Garvin Roberson, who was at Central through last season, owns the second-longest stint at 15 seasons, followed by Memorial's Al Jackson at 13 seasons, the last in 1990-91.

The individual with both the longest overall tenure and the longest head coaching tenure is current Charger coach Steve Johnson. His 22 years on the Memorial bench include 16 as head coach in addition to six as an assistant.

Semistate site: North Side Gym will host a semistate this winter for the first time since its opening season, this time a girls semistate for the first time ever.

Two of the IHSAA's four classes will play their northern semistates on Feb. 26 at North Side. The chosen classes will be based on relative proximity for all semistate teams. Games will be at 1 and 3:30 p.m. The other northern semistate is at Plymouth.

"It's a step in the right direction toward getting the (boys) regional back here," Foland said.

Criminally, North Side has been without a boys regional since 1997, when class basketball came into being and produced several venue changes.

Raider record: The 30 points Brent Eaton poured in Friday night for Northridge in a 58-40 victory over Bethany Christian is a Raider record for freshmen, shattering the previous mark of 19 by Todd Janes in 1993-94.

Old-fashioned brawl: Before you blame the 1986 and '87 Concord-Marian brawls reviewed by Twine last week or the Pacer-Piston smackdown of a few weeks ago conveniently on the state of modern society, don't forget the brawl between Elkhart and Nappanee in the 1930s.

James C. Miller of Goshen hasn't forgotten.

Prompted by last Tuesday's discussion of the Concord-Marian games, Miller e-mailed a message saying that "two players got into a disagreement, and benches cleared, and so did the bleachers" in a 1930s game between Elkhart and Nappanee at the Nappanee Community Building.

"I know because I was there," Miller wrote. "I was just a kid and hurried to the top row of the bleachers."

On tap tonight: Jimtown senior guard Chris Trobaugh, working his way back from a football knee injury, is expected to make his first appearance of the season tonight when the Jimmies (1-1) visit Northridge (3-0).

Trobaugh, who also missed the Jimmies' Class 2A state championship game in March after he became ill the night before, averaged 11.2 points and 1.5 steals last season.

"He's only been practicing about a week and a half, but he's getting there," Jimtown coach Randy DeShone said Monday.

Among other games tonight, at Lakeland, Fairfield takes its turn at trying to slow Laker standout Jon Workman. The 6-foot-7 junior is coming off a school-record 44-point performance in Lakeland's 74-61 victory Friday at Fremont. Workman already has committed to play for Steve Alford at Iowa.

The Lakers (2-1) and Falcons (1-1) are each 1-0 in the Northeast Corner Conference.

At Bremen, Concord (3-0) tries to add to another typically strong start under coach Ryan Culp. Over the previous four seasons beginning with 2000-01, the Minutemen have blasted out of the gate with records of 5-0, 5-0, 9-0 and 5-1.

The Lions (0-2) will be playing their home opener.

At Elkhart Christian Academy, the Eagles (2-1) go after their sixth straight home victory dating back to last season as Prairie Heights (1-2) visits.

At Marian, the Knights (0-1) make their home debut, with Michigan City Marquette (1-1) providing the opposition.

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