The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

Made of moments

Top events in Fieldhouse history

It is known by many names. IndyStar writers have referred to it as the Crown Jewel of Indiana High School Basketball. One former SHS head coach referred to it as the Cathedral of Basketball. But most know it as Southport’s Historic Fieldhouse.

Tomorrow, another memory will be added to the Fieldhouse’s legacy: the 2A boys basketball semistate.

With a grand, historic gym, comes great moments, people and memories. And to honor these great memories and people, here are The Journal’s top moments of the Fieldhouse.

A presidential appearance

Former president Donald Trump speaks in the Fieldhouse on Nov. 2, 2018. He voiced his support for Republican candidate Mike Braun. (Julia Brookshire)

Not many gyms in the state, let alone the country, have gotten the chance to be able to host the president.

It was fall of 2018, and there was a heavily-contested race between the Republican candidate Mike Braun and Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly for a seat in the Senate.

Officials with the Donald Trump administration got in contact with Perry Township Schools requesting to use the Fieldhouse for a rally.

“If the president of the United States requests to use your facility, you probably should find a way to accommodate,” former SHS principal Brian Knight said.

Therefore, on Nov. 2, Republican President Donald Trump and some notable Indiana icons, such as Vice President Mike Pence and Bobby Knight, Indiana University’s head basketball coach for 29 years, spoke at the rally to show support for Braun.

Having an event at this sheer size in a high school gym created challenges that aren’t usually presented.

For example, the students’ safety and security always came first, so Knight had to make decisions such as releasing school early that day.

Events like these are usually hosted in an event center that have staff ready to help with setup and logistics, so in comparison, Knight says that the rally was understaffed.

Another issue was the safety of the president. SHS was not previously kept to the standard to hold an event like this safely, so some changes and precautions were made.

“Through this experience, I can say things like ‘I took a sniper up to the roof,’” Knight said.

The Secret Service took the security of the president very seriously.

Knight says that when he took the snipers to the roof the day of the rally, the lead sniper stood there motionless for about 30 minutes just looking for any possible way someone could get in the school and harm Trump.

Julia Brookshire was a sophomore who got the chance to be in press row and cover the rally in real time for The Journal.

Brookshire says that when she first got there, she was presented with the fact that Trump supporters don’t have the greatest love for the press, and she was nervous just being in that environment.

While the Fieldhouse was packed to the brim with people shoulder to shoulder in the seats and on the floor, the overflow of people was into the East Gym and outside. There were two jumbotrons playing the rally live and the conditions were similar there as well.

She says that the experience alone, being a mere high school reporter seeing the current president live and in person, was incredible.

“And just the noise when he walked in onto the stage into the Fieldhouse was just so overwhelming,” Brookshire said.

The program from the Challenge of Champions game on Dec. 5, 2005. (photo contributed by Steve Bean)

A show of incredible talent

The Fieldhouse has seen some great talent across the board in the form of players like Joey Brunk, Louie Dampier, Paul Scruggs and Jim Krivacs, who went on to be professional players at home or abroad.

But one thing all of these players have in common is that they played for SHS. What about talent from other schools playing in the Fieldhouse?

December 17, 2005, was a day just for that. It was the first annual Challenge of Champions event presented by the Circle City Classic organization. Teams were chosen from across the Midwest to come and showcase themselves in the Fieldhouse.

It was the first large sporting event hosted in the Fieldhouse separate from the IHSAA, so high school teams from places like Detroit, Milwaukee and Chicago were playing against teams from Indiana that day.

“It was just a great day of excitement for high school basketball in Indianapolis at that time,” former SHS Athletic Director Pete Hubert said. “And we had a large crowd … there (were) a lot of people who were just simply high school basketball junkies.”

There were six games that day, all showcasing future college and NBA prospects. In total, there were five future NBA players on the court that day: Mike Conley, who went fourth overall in the 2007 NBA draft and currently plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves; Greg Oden, who went first overall in the 2007 NBA draft and currently is the Director of Basketball Operations for Butler University men’s basketball; Eric Gordon, who went seventh overall in the 2008 NBA draft and currently plays for the Phoenix Suns; Derrick Rose, who went first overall in the 2008 NBA draft and currently plays for the Memphis Grizzlies; Jeff Teague, who went 19th overall in the 2009 NBA draft and currently coaches basketball at Pike High School.

“At the time, we knew that they were really good players there, but I don’t think you realized the magnitude of everyone you were watching, and what those people would become,” former SHS head basketball coach Jason Delaney said.

There was a lot of preparation for the Fieldhouse for an event like this. For example, the hanging scoreboards and a new score table in the Fieldhouse were bought just for this event.

The floor was redone as well and repainted to look newer and better than it ever was at the time.

“When we finished this event, I felt like it was so successful, that the historic Southport Fieldhouse was the place to be,” Hubert said. “That was the place to host anything big in Indiana.”

The birth of a rivalry

A piece of the basketball net cut down by Steve Bean after the sectional game against Perry Meridian High School. (photo contributed by Steve Bean)

The rivalry between SHS and Perry Meridian High School truly began on March 5, 1977, with the boys basketball sectional championship.

“We were kind of eager to show that we were their equal and that we could play with them. It was definitely that feeling of a rivalry,” SHS alum Steve Bean said. “I don’t think it took long for that to ramp up. Once we started playing them, that was who you wanted to beat more than anybody.”

Just a few years after splitting the schools into two separate buildings, there had been only a handful of games between the district rivals.

Then, in 1977, SHS lost to Perry Meridian twice in the regular season before meeting in the sectional championship, so the buildup to the game was massive.

That day, there were over 7,000 people in the gym cheering on a close, back-and-forth game that ended in a 62-54 SHS win. It was the Cards’ first win over the Falcons.

“It was really loud in there, like close to a jet-engine loud at times,” Bean said. “I can remember times in that game where the crowd cheered so loud after a big basket that my ears just felt like they were overloaded.”

SHS alum Mark Dietel played on the team that year and can recall memorable moments from the game.

“The main thing I remember about the game when I was on the court, I could be standing five feet from another player … and we would be trying to talk to each other, even trying to yell, and my ears were ringing,” Dietel said.

Bean was a manager on the team throughout the greatest memory from his four years at SHS was that night.

“I have that date burned in my memory, and it was easily the best day of my four years of high school because I got to stand on that ladder and cut down pieces of the net,” Bean said. “I didn’t even dream when I started high school that that was going to happen.”

A battle of powerhouses

Former student Joey Brunk dunks the ball during the game against Evansville Reitz on Feb. 28, 2015. The Cards won the game 88-80. (Alicia Jones)

The 2014-2015 SHS boys basketball team was one of the best teams the school had ever seen, but prior to Feb. 25 of that season, Evansville Reitz had been even better.

The game would go down in Southport basketball history. The Fieldhouse was at maximum capacity with a standing room only crowd of over 7,000 fans. The intensity in the gym was at an all-time high.

“Southport has had basketball history, and so I felt like we could build something there and bring back some of the history and tradition,” former SHS head basketball coach Kyle Simpson said. “And the Fieldhouse is so cool and it plays such a key component in that.”

The game wasn’t initially on the schedule. Both teams had an opening game near the end of the season, and Simpson knew the head coach for Evansville Reitz. So they agreed to set one up.

Then, when the day finally arrived, a snowstorm hit, resulting in the game being postponed for a later date. It ended up being the last regular season game for SHS that year.

Evansville Reitz was an offensive machine at the time. They had scored 105 points or more in four of the six games leading up to the SHS match-up, which is almost unheard of in high school basketball in general. Evansville Reitz was the No. 1 team in the state at the time. SHS was No. 3.

The people that showed up to this game weren’t just SHS or Evansville Reitz fans. Everyone wanted to see this match-up. 

The game ended with SHS coming back and sealing the game, 88-80.

One person that got to play in front of the roaring crowd that day was Joey Brunk. 

Brunk went on to play basketball in college for multiple teams, including Butler, Indiana and Ohio State University. After college, Brunk went on to play overseas in the Czech Republic and represent the city of Pardubice.

“Playing in a game like that as a high school student is pretty cool … , so it was a great win and if not one of my favorite memories from being there,” Brunk said.

Simpson says that the game proved to be a fitting tribute to what he calls the Cathedral of Basketball.

“It brought back memories of what the Fieldhouse used to be like … ,” Simpson said. “And if you’re a fan of high school basketball, the energy and excitement and seeing over 7,000 fans to watch one game, it was so cool to see.”

Morgan Harmon
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About the Contributor
Aiden Quinlin, Sports Reporter
What's up? My name is Aiden Quinlin and I’m a sports reporter this year. I’m a sophomore and this is my first year on The Journal. I’m on the football team currently, and I’m hoping to be on the baseball team this year as well. I play travel baseball, so my summer is pretty packed. Baseball is my true passion, however, and I could talk with anyone all day about it. As you could imagine, I love working out and lifting weights. I also love to travel and go on trips with friends and family. I’m in a family of four with my mom, dad and sister. One of my biggest problems right now is probably watching too much YouTube. Additionally, I love to play video games even though I’m pretty trash at any game I play. Anyway, this is my first year on The Journal, so go read my stuff!

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