By Mike Lunsford
TERRE HAUTE — It never ceases to amaze me how fast time slides past us… Or should I say, blows by. I’ve lived in my house 28 years; I’ve taught school for over 30, and I’ve been married a little longer than that. I honestly think I have t-shirts that are older than the high school students I have in class, and my two kids still don’t believe I can remember a time when television went off the air around midnight after a rousing rendition of the national anthem.
Proving my point is the fact that this is already the 10th year of the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic. It sure doesn’t seem like it was that long ago when I first got myself saddle-sore watching those first Classic games from the bleachers at Terre Haute South. If I recall, we had a whole lot of snow that inaugural year too.
I think a 10-year anniversary is special. According to tradition, being in a relationship for a decade is proof of durability and commitment. It may seem mildly inconsistent, but 10th anniversaries are normally commemorated with either a gift of diamonds, or one of tin or aluminum. I may get all weepy about how much I love the Classic, but diamonds are beyond my budget, so we’ll have to settle for simply tipping a can of soda sometime Saturday morning at Terre Haute — just before Bloomfield and Terre Haute South tip-off in the day’s first game — in honor of this great tournament. Of course, I hope to have a slice of pizza to go with it.
Over the years, I’ve seen the WVPHC grow, not only in the size of the field and in attendance numbers, but also in stature as one of the very best high school basketball tournaments in the country. Last year provided perhaps the best year of all since a little guy — Marshall’s Lions — broke through to win it in reminiscence of all of those small-school champions the old Wabash Valley Tourney had in its 57 years of existence.
I’ve had a load of favorite moments in the PHWVC — too many to mention here. But if I had to name just one, it would come from championship night in the 2001 tournament. The gym at North was, of course, packed that evening in anticipation of a David and Goliath match-up between Northview and tiny Turkey Run. The tournament that year came at a time when stress in this country was running like a high fever; terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon just a few months before.
Everyone in the gym stood, addressed the flag, and, as many sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” I remember thinking that it was as respectful a crowd that I had ever seen. Before the spell was broken by the ensuing roar, I saw more than a few tears being wiped away. It wasn’t an exciting dunk, or a go-ahead basket in a nail-biter, but it was special…
Now, here’s the yearly PHWVC trivia quiz, and if you get them all correct, why I’ll tip my can to you too. In the meantime, I need to figure out how to celebrate next year. Eleventh-year anniversaries are usually commemorated with a gift of steel… See you at the Classic.
1. ________ Approximately, how many basketball fans have attended the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic since its tip-off in 2000? (a. 35,000 (b. 45,000 (c. 55,000 (d. 65,000
2. ________ Gary Fears, founder of the PHWVC, spent his basketball playing days at what local high school? (a. Garfield (b. Honey Creek (c. Wiley (d. Gerstmeyer
3. ________ Rockville’s R.J. Mahurin holds the single-game scoring record in a PHWVC game with 40 points against Monrovia in 2007. Who is second to Mahurin on that single-game scoring list (a. Jake Kelly of Marshall (b. Adam Gore of Monrovia (c. John Michael Jarvis of TH South (d. R.J. Mahurin of Rockville
4. _________How many current Indiana State University Sycamores basketball players have played in the PHWVC? (a. 4 (b. 5 (c. 6 (d. 7
5. _________It’s important to note that the profits from the pizza that is sold at the PHWVC go to the booster clubs of the host school. But, how many slices of the stuff were sold at last year’s tournament? (a. 4,500 (b. 7,500 (c. 9,500 (d. 11,500
6. _________What school has won the most games in Classic history? (a. Terre Haute North (b. Terre Haute South (c. Northview (d. Bloomfield.
7. _________What school currently in the Classic hosted the very last old-time Wabash Valley Tournament in 1972? (a. Rockville (b. Sullivan (c. Marshall (d. Casey
8. __________Two schools in the PHWVC field won the old Valley four times. Can you name the pair?
9. __________How many different schools have participated in the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Tournament? (a. 18 (b. 22 (c. 24 (d. 26
10. _________Okay, the old-timer toughie: The old Valley ran for 57 years. In that time, how many different schools participated in it? (a. 98 (b. 124 (c. 136 (d. 158
1. (d. 65,000
2. (b. Fears was a Honey Creek Honey Bee
3. (d. Mahurin, again; he scored 38 against Owen Valley in the same tournament
4. (c. 6 – The Eitel twins, RJ Mahurin, Jake Kelly, Jake Odum, and Harry Marshall
5. (c. 9,500
6. (a. North has won 28 times in the tournament
7. (b. Sullivan hosted the last of the old Valley tournaments; Marshall, the 2009 champ, won it in 1972
8. Rockville in 1916-17-18, and 1963, and Linton in 1924, 1927, 1946, and 1968
9. (d. 26. I don’t have room to name them all here…
10. (d. 158 different schools participated
You can contact Mike Lunsford at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via regular mail, c/o the Tribune-Star at PO Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808. Visit Mike’s Web page at www.mikelunsford.com. He will be signing his latest book, “Sidelines: The Best of the Basketball Stories…” at the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic on Dec. 26, 28, 29, 30.