Snipping the net

Pictured in the photo is Austin’s Bruce Johnson in 1999 cutting down the nets after the Eagles’ Class 2A regional championship.

Bruce is one of the greatest players ever to come out of Scott County. He ranks as the fourth all-time leading scorer in the county with 1,577 points. In 1999, Bruce led the Eagles to an amazing 22-3 record, the best ever by an Austin team.

I loved watching Bruce play. His all-around basketball skills were incredible. He is one of the most unselfish big stars I’ve seen play at any level. He played basketball the right way. He scored a lot of points, and he could have scored a lot more, but he wanted to keep his teammates involved and win, and he cared less about stats. He was simply a great player.

After high school, he played college basketball for two different colleges. One season was with NCAA Division II national runner-up Kentucky Wesleyan, and then he played three years with Bellarmine, where he was the team’s leading scorer.

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I love this photo of him cutting the nets down, and do you know how the whole net cutting thing got started? Well, you’re about to … and here’s the story.

In 1923, Frankfort High School hired 23-year-old Everett Case to coach its high school basketball team. He was born and raised in Indiana.

Case immediately led Frankfort to statewide prominence, winning four Indiana state championships from 1925 to 1939. In the 1920s, he wanted his players to love the game as much as he did. He wanted basketball to be a part of their lives forever.

So he told them to take something of each season with them, and one of those things was the nets cut up into pieces. Eventually, after a championship in the 1920s, his Frankfort players hoisted him on his shoulders, and Case cut the nets down.

In the 1940s, Case accepted the head-coaching position at North Carolina State and quickly turned them into a national college basketball power. In 1947, when NC State won the Southern Conference championship, he did something that he did back in his days at Frankfort — he directed the team to cut down the nets.

It was the first time it had ever been done at the NCAA level, and it was the beginning of the tradition that we know today.

In 1964, Case was diagnosed with cancer and had to retire after the first two games of the season. His life would end just 18 months later.

But before he passed away and while he was confined to a wheelchair, Everett Case watched his former North Carolina State team beat Duke in the championship game of the ACC Tournament.

After the game, a few players went over to where he was sitting, hoisted Case upon their shoulders and carefully walked him over to the basket, where he cut down a net for the last time.

So that’s the story of how cutting down the nets all started, and it all started with a Hoosier. Imagine that.