Basketball Heritage Project seeks help in preserving county hoops
July 24, 2019
This display case along with other memorabilia can be viewed on the second floor of the Fusion 54 building in Crawfordsville
In A.H. Williams book “Big Bang of Basketball,” Williams highlights Ralph Jones, Ward “Piggy” Lambert, and John Wooden as three of the most influential pioneers to the sport of basketball.
Most people recognize the name John Wooden, but very few have ever heard of Ralph Jones and Ward “Piggy” Lambert.
And that’s where the Basketball Heritage Project steps in.
After Crawfordsville’s Class of 1958 celebrated with a 50-year reunion, Carolyn Teague and others decided to form a group to remember and preserve the rich history of basketball in Montgomery County like the Athenian’s state runner-up team in 1958.
“Our mission is to preserve and promote the rich basketball heritage of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County, Indiana,” says the mission statement for the Basketball Heritage Project Inc.
Ralph Jones and Ward “Piggy” Lambert both went on to become famous coaches at each stop they made, but both got their start in Montgomery County, which are just two examples of how the Basketball Heritage Project are taking steps to preserve the history in its own backyard.
Many know that Rev. Nicholas McKay brought basketball to Indiana with a game at the Crawfordsville YMCA in 1894 and that the Athenians won the first IHSAA sanctioned state tournament in 1911, but very few know all the in-between details that have helped give Montgomery County the reputation of “The cradle of basketball” over the last 125 years.
“We decided that we would keep it all in Montgomery County and the 18 schools that were here and we would try and get all the information and pictures we could about the teams,” Teague, the president of the board, said.
In the last decade the Basketball Heritage Project has raised money for the historical marker that stands behind the Fusion 54 building, which signifies the birthplace of basketball in the state of Indiana, created a website, put together a display case for the window front of the PRKD Building on Main Street in downtown Crawfordsville, and an exhibit at the Carnegie Museum.
Most recently, a display case has been constructed in the common area on the second floor of the Fusion 54 Building.
All of the exhibits present a wide variety of memorabilia that has been collected, while the website offers a variety of articles and links that tells about the history of basketball in Montgomery County from Crawfordsville to Wabash and all of the small schools in between.
The Basketball Heritage Project is currently working on videos that will highlight each school in Montgomery and its history.
“Our video is the most significant thing we’ve tried to do, and we are almost finished with it,” Teague said.
In order to continue to preserve and promote the rich basketball heritage in the county, the Basketball Heritage Project is always seeking donations — both monetary and physical — as well as volunteers.
Giving has been one area where the Basketball Heritage Project has struggled since its origination in 2008.
“This area is so tapped out for donations,” Bill Locker said. “They just give and give and it’s so difficult to ask them to give to something that a lot of times they have no idea or they’re interested in.”
Locker, and other board members want that to change, and want to spread the word about the history of basketball in Montgomery County. From Wabash’s 1907 World Championship to Daryl Warren’s prolific scoring career as a Linden Bulldog to Southmont’s only IHSAA Sectional title in 1994, the Heritage Project wants to spread the word and preserve all things basketball that have taken place since Crawfordsville and Lafayette’s YMCA teams threw a leather ball into peach baskets on the second floor of the Crawfordsville YMCA building in March of 1894.
They are looking for any type of memorabilia that can be tied to Montgomery County basketball, especially all things North Montgomery, Southmont, and the last few decades of Crawfordsville. This can range from a wide variety of things such as used game balls, jerseys, cheerleading sweaters, letter jackets, and banners.
To donate you can mail to PO Box 349, Crawfordsville, IN 47933, phone at 765-225-1574, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visited them on the web at www.bhpinc.org