Hoosier Gym glimpse of state hysteria

The novelty hasn’t worn off — three days later.

On Saturday, I marked another item off my Indiana bucket list by making it over to the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown.

Not only did I get to walk the worn floor and sit on the stage, but I also covered a live basketball game.

It combined two of my passions: basketball and sports writing.

I couldn’t ask for more.

When I first arrived in Indiana just over a year and a half ago, I made it a mission to go see the famous film site.

Riding east with our photographer, Aaron Piper, and staff writer, Zach Spicer, the anticipation built as soon as we departed from 100 St. Louis Ave.

The gymnasium sits in the middle of a neighborhood off main street in Knightstown.

There’s a sign out front with four boys etched, one of which is holding a basketball, arguing — and underneath it is transcribed “Hoosier Gym Community Center.”

What stood out most on the sign, for me, was the fact that it said “community center.”

The location made it feel like it was just a part of the neighborhood, a place where the locals stop by to shoot hoops and earn bragging rights.

There wasn’t a big parking lot, just spots outside of residential properties.

Despite the frigid conditions, the line stretched out the door and down the sidewalk prior to tipoff.

The six games were rapid fire, with 20- to 30-minute gaps to clear the stands and locker rooms. So, waiting time was involved.

Once you hit the narrow entrance, you’re greeted by a bunch of Hickory gear for sale — it’s gold and maroon everywhere.

Then, you hit the grand stage in just a few steps.

It’s a small gym that holds 650 fans with a court that isn’t standard regulation size.

There are two 10-second lines on either side of the midcourt, so there isn’t a true mid-court.

During Brownstown’s game against Tipton, I think the dimensions forced both teams to adapt from the start.

The width made it much tougher to get the ball out in transition. Most long pass attempts would go out-of-bounds or were intercepted by the opposing team.

Also, there were hardly any 3-point shots from the wings.

I would guess there was a little more than a foot between the 3-point line and sideline, and it was impossible to save a ball going out of bounds since the stands were right on top of the court.

Both teams were forced to play more of a half-court, slowed-down version of the game.

It reminded me of a more traditional basketball game.

Forget the razzle-dazzle, high-octane offenses of today.

Here, you had to work the ball around, set screens, take a shot when you got a glimpse of light, fight for rebounds in crowds and rely on fundamentals.

Sound traveled well across the gym, and you could hardly hear yourself think through all 36 minutes of play.

Both teams’ fans showed. One side of the gym was all blue and the other Brownstown red.

The game was as memorable as any I have attended, coming down to the very end in dramatic fashion.

This is Hoosier basketball.

Jordan Morey is sports editor at The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at jmorey@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.