HARDWOOD MEMORIES

Aaron Seitz and Chris Marshall said they had a lot of good memories playing basketball in the Cortland Elementary School gymnasium, when they were students there in the 1980s.

Both were at the school Saturday night for Seymour’s third annual Hoosier Hysteria boys basketball program.

Seitz played in the alumni game, while Marshall watched the evening’s events that included his son, Owen, participating in the musical chairs basketball game.

After the Seymour freshmen conducted a half-hour practice, the alumni took the hardwood.

The Black team was coached by Mickey Beck, and the Purple team was headed by Randy Fife.

Members of the Black team included Reuben Cummings, Eric Fish, Drew Denny, Clint VonDielingen, Jayson Sterling and Seitz, who were seniors on the 1991-92 team that won the Seymour Sectional.

That team was coached by Fife and is the last boys sectional the school has won.

“In the finals, in ’92, we beat Jennings County in overtime,” Seitz recalled. “I still think back to the final play of regulation. Jennings County had the ball, and Willie Mullins got a shot off from about 17 out on the right baseline.

“I remember in the split second that that ball was traveling through the air, thinking to myself everything we had worked for and the heartache we’d endured losing the year before when we were all juniors, and having an opportunity to win, and if the ball goes in I’m going to regret this for the rest of my life.

“Fortunately, that shot didn’t go in, and we played well in overtime and Eric Fish came through with the game-winning basket and sent us all into a frenzy.”

Seitz ranks 12th on Seymour’s career scoring list with 1,078 points, and he is second in career free-throw percentage with 191 for 220 for 86.8 percent.

“One of the great memories about being in Cortland was it is the school my mom graduated from,” Seitz said. “She is a graduate of Cortland High School in 1960, and a school my dad was a sixth-grade teacher in for 23 years before he moved into the middle school to finish his career.

“It is a place where I probably played the most basketball outside of the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium. Just the recesses, playing basketball with Andy Runge and sharing that time with him. Andy and I played basketball at recess from first grade on. When the other kids would be playing tag, we’d be in the gym playing ball.”

Seitz said that he had plenty of opportunities to play basketball as a youth in Seymour.

“In those days, because of the busing schedule, we actually had four recesses,” he said. “As we got older, when most of the boys in the class played, we would keep score through the entire four recesses all day and we had a lot of great battles outside on the playground.

“It was somewhere between three-on-three and five-on-five, depending on how many we had. There is a lot of history in this gym, and I like the fact that (the varsity scrimmage) at Hoosier Hysteria is Cortland versus Shields.”

Runge, who was also a senior on the 1992 team, ranks second in career field-goal percentage with 369 of 596 for 61.9 percent, and Fish ranks second in career assists with 345.

“I remember playing a ton of ball in that gym,” Marshall said. “Both of my parents went to this school as a high school. I played in here before I even went to school because my dad (the late Larry Marshall) played a lot of ball in here.

“I remember in fifth grade Cortland, the little country school won the (Seymour) city championship. I was on that team, and we got runner-up in sixth grade.”

Marshall played basketball his freshman year, and his sophomore year until he suffered a knee injury.

He sustained a knee injury in his other knee his junior year and said “I was not ready to play my senior year.

“I think this is the best gym to have something like (Hoosier Hysteria).”

Owen Marshall, who is on the seventh-grade team at Seymour Middle School, was runner-up in the musical chairs game.

The winner was Mikayla Fee, who is a senior on Seymour’s girls basketball team and also a Cortland alumni.

A 3-point contest also was conducted, and Matt Trimnell won the competition.

“This really works twofold for us: It’s an incredibly fun night for our kids. I hope it was a fun night for our community, and throwing the alumni game in there this year I thought was very special, and we had a lot of friends and family of player and past players come back and watch,” Kyle Clough, the Owls’ current boys’ varsity basketball coach, said

“It’s also productive for us. I thought it was good for our kids to play in front of a nice crowd, and especially the way the game went tonight. It was nice for the end of the game situation the first week of the season.”

Clough said he thought the night the night brought the community together.

“It was a spectacular night like it has been the past three years,” he siad. “The crowd was phenomenal. We’re so appreciative of the fans, family and friends of the program. We had so many of your youth players here tonight, and it was special for them to see it, and when you throw in the alumni game it’s getting bigger and better every year.

“I think the basketball is slowly getting better here so that’s a special thing too.”

Seitz lives in Carmel and tried to follow the team from afar.

“There is a lot of energy in the program and the event we’re having tonight is fantastic,” he said. “It is a great night and to share one more time on the basketball floor with these guys was a blast. It was a great crowd tonight.

“We recollect and think about what we accomplished back then, and once you win a championship they can’t take that away from you. The memories that came back, looking around the crowd and seeing the other parents from our class, and fans that came to our games over the years, one of the enjoyable parts about being at athlete — or at least one of things I enjoyed about was not just the competition — but knowing you were playing for other people, people like I know who work during the week and I want to enjoy sports on the weekend.”

The Owls will scrimmage Saturday morning at Greenwood and will open their season against Martinsville at home Nov. 28.

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Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.