News From Terre Haute, Indiana


December 25, 2012

Old friend missing as Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic begins

TERRE HAUTE — It occurred to me late last month, as I opened my morning newspaper to read up on the draw for this year’s Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic, that when I walk through Terre Haute South’s doors on Wednesday it will be the first time that I won’t find my old buddy Dean Kendall sitting at one end of the gym, a smile on his face a good while before the first whistle is blown or the first shot is taken.

Dean’s name was hardly synonymous with the PHWVC, but he rarely, if ever, missed a game. Instead, those who have memories of the old Wabash Valley Tournament are probably more familiar with him. He compiled the definitive book about the Valley’s history in 1997, and from the very first game of the very first Classic you could find him at a table near a doorway, selling a book or two and reacquainting himself with all the friends he’d made over the years — myself, I am happy to say, among them.

Dean died last March; he was 88. He enjoyed driving over to Terre Haute from his Indianapolis home, always taking a short detour south to Pimento, where he grew up as a boy, always happy that the classy guys who ran the Classic had taken the time to invite an “old codger” like him to the draw. If there ever was a man who appreciated his seat and a slice of pizza at the Classic, it was Dean.

Like most of us, I suppose, Dean thought his childhood was special. He was primarily a scrawny bench-warmer for his Peppers’ teams, and he graduated in 1942 with hardly a basket to his name. I don’t believe his team ever made it to Terre Haute for a Valley finals while he wore the uniform — after all, the odds were against the Peppers, who entered the tourney 39 times but advanced to the final round only four times. I found that out, by the way, in Dean’s book.

I think that what I liked the most about Dean wasn’t his basketball knowledge; it was his eternal optimism. More than once the old boy beat the odds, particularly after several bouts with cancer, and for years he published a little circular he called “The Cheer-Up News,” a photocopied and stapled handout that he’d slip in the mail to his friends from church or, in my case, to someone he’d met at the Classic. He did it all on his own dime, too, because — as he told me once — he just like to “see people grin.”

Not many people who go to the Classic are going to notice that Dean isn’t there. I’m not going to be able to attend as many games this year as I usually do, but for those I watch, I know it won’t be quite the same when I head out the door past those tables. A few years ago, Dean told me that he appreciated the fact that I’d always come by to talk to him. “You always remember me,” he said more than once.

How could I ever forget him?

Now, as customary, I have prepared the dreaded “Wabash Valley Pizza Hut Classic Quiz.” Nothing much has changed in the quiz’s format over the past 13 years; I ask the questions and you answer them. I almost always slip in a few questions about the PHWVC’s predecessor to appeal to those readers who have a few extra seasons under their belts. As to prizes for the highest score, don’t be ridiculous. You’ll lose your amateur status!

Lunsford’s Classic Quiz

1. Just about every Classic buff knows that Hamilton Southeastern won the very first PHWVC 13 seasons ago, but very few can remember the small Illinois school the Royals defeated in the first game to get their tournament roll started. Who was it? a. Palestine, b. Hutsonville, c. Red Hill, d. Westfield.

2. Now, one to honor Dean: We know that Kendall’s Pimento Peppers played in the Valley 39 times, but another team called the Peppers was in the field 23 times. Name that long-gone school. a. Solsberry, b. Decker Chapel, c. Roachdale, d. Wallace.

3. Only one school in PHWVC history has placed a player on the all-tournament team every single year, and that is Terre Haute North. Who was that very first North player to make the all-PHWVC team (in the first few years, only five players made it.) Sorry, no multiple-guess on this one!

4. Duane Klueh, legendary basketball player and coach, can now say that he not only drew the names for the 13th annual tournament, he played in a few of the Valleys, too. For what local school was Klueh an outstanding player? a. Glenn, b. Blackhawk, c. State High, d. Wiley.

5. On last year’s final day of play, the four games that decided sixth place through the championship all had something in common. Was it a. each of the winners trailed at halftime, b. each of the winners were ahead at halftime, c. each of the four winners were tied with their opponents at halftime, or d. each of the four winners were visitors on the scoreboard?

6. In what year of the Valley Tourney were players first given a fifth foul before being disqualified from play? a. 1927, b. 1936, c. 1945, d. 1955.

7. The PHWVC welcomes the Robinson Maroons to the field for the first time in its 13-year history, but the Maroons were a steady force in the Valley years ago. Which of the following statements is true about RHS? a. Robinson is one of five Crawford County schools to have won the tourney, b. Robinson won the Valley three times, c. Robinson won the tourney more than any Illinois school, d. Robinson held an opponent to its lowest scoring total in Valley championship history.

8. In what year did the old Valley Tournament field over 100 teams for the last time? a. 1956, b. 1958, c. 1960, d. 1965.

9. In last year’s quiz, I asked a question about who was the only player besides R.J. Mahurin to have scored 15 field goals in a single PHWVC game, and the answer was Shakamak’s Billy Newton. Now three players share that record. Who is the most recent player to hit 15 field goals in a game? a. Sullivan’s Rhett Smith, b. Terre Haute South’s Jeffrey Turner, c. Casey-Westfield’s Brandon Wolfe, d. Terre Haute North’s Calvin Blank.

10. What school in the PHWVC field has the most popular nickname/mascot in its respective state (there are three Illinois schools in the tourney)? Just so you’ll narrow the field, let’s go ahead and drop the Miners, Rox, Lakers, Golden Arrows and Maroons. That leaves the Warriors, Lions, Knights, Panthers, Wildcats, Patriots, Bulldogs, Braves and Vikings from which to choose.

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  • Old friend missing as Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic begins

    It occurred to me late last month, as I opened my morning newspaper to read up on the draw for this year’s Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic, that when I walk through Terre Haute South’s doors on Wednesday it will be the first time that I won’t find my old buddy Dean Kendall sitting at one end of the gym, a smile on his face a good while before the first whistle is blown or the first shot is taken.

    December 25, 2012

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    I’m no coffee connoisseur. If it’s hot and black and in a Styrofoam cup, I’ll drink it.
    Knowing I consume a good bit of brew every day, my family helps fuel the addiction by buying Christmas gift cards for me at a local coffee shop, but, since I make it into town only occasionally, the cards stay stashed in my wallet until the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic rolls around.

    January 5, 2011

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    January 11, 2010

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    December 24, 2009

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    February 20, 2009

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    January 3, 2009

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  • Sidelines: Illinois has its share of unique nicknames too Over the years, I’ve written at least four columns about unique school nicknames, but Casey resident Jim Blome reminded me in a letter about a year ago that I’ve never done a story about interesting names from Illinois schools. I think it’s time I remedied that error.

    February 27, 2007

  • Sidelines: Advocates had their chance for higher basket Years ago, if atmospheric conditions were just right, I could occasionally dunk a basketball, particularly at one local gym where pick-up game artists like me knew that one rim was at least three inches lower than regulation height.

    February 2, 2007

  • Warm up for Classic with Clyde Quiz An obligation at work kept me from being at the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic luncheon and tournament drawing at Terre Haute South a few weeks ago, but I don’t intend to let much get in my way when it comes to showing up for the lion’s share of the 28 games in the Classic, which, by the way, gets started today.

    December 26, 2006

  • Mike Lunsford: It’s not how much we’ve gained, but how much we’ve lost I haven’t seen much basketball this fall; the weather outside has been too nice lately to turn my attention to things indoors just yet. So this is the first Sidelines of the year; I was already writing about hoops in October last season. I hope the old adage of it being better late than never still rings true.

    November 29, 2006

  • TSLunsford Sidelines: Mail waste of time for some, but not for me No matter how many bills or how much junk mail I get, I’m one of those folks who anticipates going to the mailbox like Carter opening Tut’s tomb. I’ve always enjoyed getting mail; there’s a feeling of connectedness one gets when he sees his name on a letter from somewhere in the outside world. It makes little difference that what I most often get isn’t worth the postage it took to send it, even at the bulk rate.

    May 12, 2006 1 Photo

  • TSLunsford Sidelines: It doesn’t take much for me to name names It’s no secret that I enjoy talking about old high school nicknames; I’ve done several columns on the subject before. I usually wait a little while before I write about a topic for a second (or third) time, but when Fred Myers of Riley dropped a letter to me a few weeks ago pointing out a potential mistake I made about a nickname, I just couldn’t resist going into it again. After all, it has been a couple of years.

    January 25, 2006 1 Photo

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    March 12, 2010