EDITOR'S NOTE: For most avid, middle-aged basketball fans in-and-around Hope, the following article will add nothing new to personal memory banks. To many, recalling the local round-ball events of 12 years ago will seem as nothing more than a brief jaunt back into "yesterday." While similar events dot the Hoosier round-ball map, very few die-hards have ever had the pleasure of living the ultimate -- an IHSAA state basketball championship.
A trip down memory lane -- particularly, this one -- would be sorely lacking in appropriate "hysteria" without the mentioning of other individuals and/or schools that have made a similar journey over the years.
The "Franklin Wonder Five" (1919, '20, '21) and Coach Ernest Wagner and the "Milan Miracle" (1954) with superstar Bobby Plump and role players Ray Craft, Glen Butte, Gene White. All are described early in most any book that chronicles the first half of 20th century Hoosier basketball.
Bill Green (1968, '74, '75, '84, '85, '86) and his six gold rings.
Any book with a list of accomplished coaches has a chapter devoted to the former Washington High School and Marion High School head man.
Without a great deal of research, the names of Columbus North grad and Bloomington North coach Tom "Goose" McKinney (1996), former North Decatur and current New Albany coach Jim Shannon (2015) and current Greensburg boss Stacy Meyer (2012, '13.)
The trio's names are surely boldfaced.
Oscar Robertson? Damon Bailey? George McGinnis? Lyndon Jones? Jay Edwards? Stacey Toran? Rick Jones? Ron Bonham? All of these and many more are firmly etched in the annals.
"Firmly etched" in the minds of the basketball aficionados living in northeastern Bartholomew County is the four week-period during which the Hauser Jets marched into the record books. Bob Nobbe remembers the trip as if it occurred yesterday. Following a pair of stumbles down the stretch of regular season games, Nobbe readied the troops for the important part of the schedule.
"Heading into the tournament, we were physically where we wanted to be," recalled the coach. "Our attitudes were good. The only concern that I shared with the team was to remember we needed to take it one game at a time."
And now, a "mere"seven games stood between the Jets and accomplishment of the dream.
As with the tradition, teams and coaches became focused a week prior to the sectional lid-lifter.
All attention on a Sunday afternoon in February was directed toward IHSAA headquarters on Indy's North Meridian Street. The ping pong balls were scrambled and Hauser's name was drawn. The Jets would open tourney play on Tuesday vs Morton Memorial.
Heading into the tournament, self-confidence was no problem. Why should it have been?
"This group of juniors had gone undefeated for four years," said Nobbe. "After that run (fifth through eighth grade), they may have lost once as freshmen and maybe twice as sophomores on the JV team. Griff (current varsity coach Roth) and I were sitting around talking about how that group had lost maybe seven times in their entire careers as basketball players."
They had learned how to win . . . for sure. But possible obstacles - seven of them - now stood in the way.
Morton Memorial? Nobbe had mixed emotions about the Tuesday night opener.
"Some say it was great to get the bye (in the first round)," explained Nobbe. "Others believed it was better to play. The main thing I remember about that Tuesday game was that it gave us a chance to play instead of sitting around."
Tuesday night - 2/28/06 - at Edinburgh Sectional
"Our game plan was to play our style," said the coach. "We pressed them and got ahead early." Final score: Hauser 79, Morton Memorial 49.
One down - Six to go.
Friday night - 3/3/06 - at Edinburgh
"We had a good rivalry with Morristown," said Nobbe. "We had beaten them (63-57) back in early February. They had height. They had shooters. They were well balanced."
The Jets came into the semi-final game well focused.
"Coach Nobbe kept us well grounded," recalled Bryce Mize, a junior on that team. "We stayed focused."
"Focus" paid off.
"It was easy to tell that the Morristown kids thought they would give us a good game," said Nobbe. "For us, the earlier (regular season) game had been a little too close for comfort."
Hauser was determined there would not be a repeat.
Final score: Hauser 61, Morristown 36.
Two down. Five to go.
Saturday night - 3/4/06 - at Edinburgh
"We had beaten Southwestern handily (79-61) on the Friday night just prior to beating Morristown," recalled Nobbe.
The rematch was not to be an instant replay. The Spartans stayed close to the Mid-Hoosier champs and were within seven mid-way through the fourth quarter. The Jets were a bit nervous.
"Gabe (Miller) had a big 3-point play and that calmed us down," said the coach. "We got rid of some of the pressure with that play."
Final score: Hauser 64, Southwestern 56.
"We did some celebrating," said Nobbe. "Winning the sectional was a good accomplishment. We had played well. We earned the championship. But come Monday, we were ready to go to work and prepare to take the next step."
Three down. Four to go.
Saturday morning - 3/11/06 - at Franklin Regional
"We knew this would be a very competitive and exciting regional," said Nobbe.
This 1A regional had gotten more than its share of publicity during the week. All four teams were ranked in the state's top 10.
"Orleans was well coached and had been near the top of the rankings all year," said Nobbe. Madison Shawe was there. Jerry Bomholt was known for his 3-2 zone. Lanesville had made recent trips to the regional."
In the morning round, Shawe nipped Orleans by two points. The Jets handled Lanesville 74-59.
Final score: Hauser 74, Lanesville 59.
Four down. Three to go.
Saturday night - 3/11/06 - at Franklin
"We trailed early against Shawe," Nobbe said. "We came back. It went back-and-forth, back-and-forth."
And then the only sophomore on the Jets' squad made his mark.
"Nick Long made a steal and a three-point play that kind of sealed the deal," said Nobbe smiling.
Final score: Hauser 63, Madison Shawe 57.
"Again, we enjoyed it. But there still was unfinished business to take care of," said Nobbe.
Mize added, "Coach Nobbe certainly enjoyed the moments with us. But he also never let us forget the task at hand."
And, 11 years later. . .
"As I look back on it now, that was so important," said Mize.
Five down. Two to go.
Saturday morning - 3/18/06 - at Southport Semistate
Only four teams remained in the battle for the 1A state title. Only two would remain after this day. A year ago, Hauser had lost its opportunity to advance to state when Loogootee had done the denying. Would Shakamak provide the 2006 roadblock?
"Back in those days, most coaches were willing to exchange game films," said Nobbe. "They had an outstanding shooting guard. He was someone we really focused on.
"They had us scouted well. They certainly took away some of the things we liked to do."
And the strategy worked. The Hauser strategy that is.
"We turned them over some, but not a lot," said Nobbe. "Fugate guarded their good kid for a while. Roth took over for a while. We did a solid job of making sure he didn't get many easy looks."
Final score: Hauser 53, Shakamak 41.
SOUTHPORT FIELDHOUSE FLASHBACK - "One of the neat things about Southport that has stuck in my head is that some of our kids had played there during summer ball with Coach Roth. That was cool to take those kids back there. Some of the memories . . . That big scoreboard in the middle of the floor. I remember that Lawrence North and Bloomington South were going to play the next game. Lawrence North had sent a journalism team down to school earlier in the week with a camera. We had the DANGER ZONE in our cheer block. They tried to make a deal. 'We'll root for you if you root for us.' I remember walking in there that day and seeing all the black and white for Hauser and the light blue for Shakamak. Of course the big schools had their fans, but the IA fans really stuck out. It was neat just to be there, but then for it to be filled . . .
Saturday morning - 3/25/2006 - State Finals at Conseco Fieldhouse
"These kids knew how to win," said Nobbe, referring to the late season, last-second road success at Jac-Cen-Del. "That Saturday night (in Ripley County) was as good an example of who these kids were as any I can think of."
Nobbe was hoping for a repeat in downtown Indianapolis. A big difference - or perhaps the biggest difference - would be that the last act would be performed in front of an audience of several thousand instead of several hundred.
"I wasn't worried they would ever get flustered," said Nobbe. "This group just took care of business."
But of course, anyone thinking the week leading up the finale was "business as usual" was a dreamer. Despite a community that was totally preoccupied and making little effort to control its "hysteria," Nobbe claimed to have worried very little about his teenagers' mental state.
"Them getting too keyed was of little concern," he said. "We spent the whole week practicing just like it was going to be another game."
YEAH . . . RIGHT!! COME ON COACH.
"It might be hard to believe, but coach Nobbe kept us absolutely grounded throughout the entire process, including the last week," said Mize with a straight face and very believable tone. "Looking back, that was so important."
What may have been happening in the community of Sharpsville - located a few miles north of Tipton - would be for those residents to recall. But whether it be in "metropolitan Hope" and its est. population of 2,100 or in tiny Sharpsville where 600 plus called home, business was likely anything but usual.
"I thought it was important to keep the kids in the same routine," said Nobbe. "The process leading up the game was as usual as we could make it. As a staff, we felt the course to take was the normal course."
So it was a calm and cool group of Jets that took the floor at Conseco (now Bankers Life).
"Shortly after tipoff, it was obvious that the Jets were intent on continuing to take their "normal" course. Full court pressure was surely no surprise to the team of Trojans whose school motto was "Together We Can." And the aggressive and annoying Jets' defense was handled pretty effectively - at least for a while.
"Yeah, the game was pretty close at half," said Nobbe.
But not so close after intermission.
With Bobby Jolliff setting individual records for most blocks (11), most steals (6) and most rebounds (15), the Jets rolled to a 64-36 victory. When the smoke had cleared, Hauser had set several state finals team records. According to Nobbe, it took quite some time for the smoke to clear.
Final score: Hauser 64, Tri Central 36.
"It was a whirlwind," he said. "It was loud and exciting. It was pretty surreal. When the game ended a few of us went to a press conference. We talked there and then on the radio."
About 30 minutes was set aside for honors and awards. Included was the announcement that Jordan Perkins was being added to a list of former Trester (Mental Attitude) Award winners that included Bryce Drew (Valparaiso), Jon McGlocklin (Franklin), Tom and Dick VanArsdale (Indianapolis Manual) and Jimmy Rayl (Kokomo).
After all of the formal festivities had concluded, the "real special" stuff began.
With their 10:00 AM tip-off now in the rear view mirror, the trip home was next. "Keeping focused" on the important stuff was next on the agenda.
"We stopped in Greenwood and ate about 12:30 or so," said Nobbe, smiling. "Then we got back on the bus."
The trip down the interstate and SR 9 was anything but normal.
"There were signs everywhere along the road," recalled Nobbe with obvious clarity. "I remember seeing a television satellite and it had 'Jets' printed on it. On the north side of town, there were people everywhere lining the roadway. People were waving and the kids had the windows down waving back. I'm not sure we expected any of that."
Also not expected was the packed gymnasium that awaited the team. Whole families, folks who didn't even have kids in school, etc. etc. The community had closed down and moved into the Jetport.
"A lot us took turns talking," Nobbe said. "After a couple of hours, the pep session was officially over."
But was it really? It was still early on this historic Saturday. What next?
"People just hung around," he said. "I remember just walking around (and around) stopping and sharing the experience with all of them. We relived the whole season and the day itself."
Police and fire trucks!!!!!
"The Hoosier Hysteria" we had all read (and dreamed) about . . . There it was . . . being recreated right in front of us," said Nobbe. "I still get a tingle up and down my spine talking about it."
When would it end?
"That team was so special," he said. "Not only did we have a slew of talent, but the comradery and unity was so amazing. They had played so much ball together. They loved spending time together. They were so competitive. We could have played a game of dodgeball later that night and they would have gone about it like there was no tomorrow."
There was no "Mighty Casey" in this group. But neither was there any joy in "Mudville" - make that Sharpsville. The boys of northeastern Bartholomew County had seen to that.
NEXT: The next story will take a more in-depth look at Bob Nobbe and his 20 years along the hardwood at Hauser.