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The names, faces & memories of Old CHS

From L-R: Crawfordsville honored former coaches Brad Acton and Gary Lester, retired Athletic Director Bruce Whitehead, and Dottie, Debbie, and Dawn Curtis members of the Paul Curtis family.


What was advertised as a nostalgia game turned into a family reunion.

The current Crawfordsville basketball team was the focus of attention in the old gym Friday night, as they battled Covington in the first varsity hoops game on the old floor in almost exactly 30 years.

What anyone and everyone in the stands literally had to their left right, front and back was every other Athenians team.

From the front row close to the action clear up to the hottest seat in the top row, you could reach a person connected to a piece of Crawfordsville basketball history.

And just like most family reunions, it was the older folks who showed up.

It’s been 30 years since the last game at the old gym, and aside from the student cheer blocks for the two teams, the history of Crawfordsville basketball was present and accounted for.

Guys who played together on bygone teams sat together and caught up. Gals who were cheerleaders or members of the cheer block sat together and caught up. Coaches caught up with players, administrators caught up with coaches. Friends then, friends now.

Athletic Director Bryce Barton did not have to put in a marathon heading from issue to issue. The ticket takers had the best seats in the house because they had the cold air from outside blowing on them before it headed into the heat of the old gym.

The maintenance folks had minimal problems and Fire Marshall Mark Evans smiled from start to finish.

The owners of the facility, Iron Men Properties, had been complimented by school officials for all their help and cooperation at Laurel Flats, the name of the building. There had been work done on the floor of course, but there was work done on the rooms they turned into locker rooms. Some done by the owners, a lot done by the school.

Barton handed out kudos to Nathan O’Neal, who put a lot of work into the playing surface. O’Neal said he scrubbed it for a month, and has the pictures to prove it needed a month’s worth of scrubbing. Barton also thanked Luke Woodward from Laurel Flats, Sean Gerold from CHS as well as the entire maintenance staff from SSC, the contracted service for the school system. Dan Wills and Dan Goff even got the PA system working well enough to overcome the noise of 1,500 visitors. Phantom Neon had a new, bright and shiny logo at midcourt.

From 5 p.m. when the doors opened and the first folks walked in from the closest parking spots, the conversation never wavered.

“What a great idea. What a great time. What a lot of fun. Is that so-and-so?”

There were a lot of warm folks in old letter jackets. There were lots of folks in new blue t-shirts.

There will be a lot of names in the following sentences. Some of these players came back for the night, pulled up a chunk of old bleacher with teammates, and caught up.

Some of these names were players who played with those guys, couldn’t make it, and were missed.

Some are just names from the history of Crawfordsville basketball, some of the best who belong in every conversation about Athenians hoops history.

Brad Acton, who coached what was the last game at the old gym 30 years ago, was there, and a lot of his players stopped by for a hug, a handshake or at least a hello.

“These guys were good kids, with good parents,” he said. “To be part of the history of this building, with all these great guys and their families, is just so incredible. To have so many come back says so much about the program.”

Gary Lester, who won the last sectional while the team played in the old gym, changed his travel plans and paid a visit. ”It has barely changed,” he noted. “What was really awesome was that all it took was hearing their voice, and you could remember. Even some of my drivers-ed kids.”

The big name from those two teams, Matt McCarty from the Acton era and Matt Petty, from the Lester era, were also in attendance, and the four of them were singled out at halftime, along with former Athletic Director Bruce Whitehead, and the wife and daughters of former coach Paul Curtis, who was unable to attend.

There were large groupings around the two of them, and players from lots of other teams and eras were gathered in spots all around the gym.

McCarty got the added bonus of watching his son Mason score a season-best 22 points in the junior varsity game, along side his father, Tom, brother Mike, and father-in-law Phil Myers, all four of whom are members of the Montgomery County Basketball Hall of Fame.

But the names were everywhere, and as they roll out here, there is not a pattern, not a sequence or priority.

What these names are is the history of Crawfordsville basketball.

Guys like Scott Balch, Billy Lee, Kevin Gallagher, Mike Heinold, Chris Arvin, Phil Luzader, Sam Lashlee, Jacob Hurt, Brett Vanderkolk, Scott Summers, Pat and Jim Wilhite.

In the next breath or grouping: Patrick Lee, Sean Abney, Bob Rivers, Jeff Bannon, Aaron Hurt, Kenny Lee, Mike and Hal Utterback, Brett and Scott Motz, Bryan Linn.

Need more? Brian Keim, Larry Grimes, Joe Pierce, Gary Rice, Bobby Reese, Randy Frederick, Bob and Scott Hodges, Kelly Cochrane.

All names that have been part of the history of Athenians basketball, all players who made a small, medium or large contribution, who were part of a winning maybe a losing team. All players remembered at a night of remembrance.

Dick Haslam was remembered. So was Kerry Seward.

Brent Bridwell, John Jones, Chad Fiedler, Brandon Froedge, Cory Staton, Josh Fitzwater, Darren Haas, Matt Carlson, Ryan Milburn’s names came up in conversations either started or overheard. All part of the history.

A little history was made. Athenians head coach David Pierce coached his first game at the old gym, while his father coached another, just 30-some years apart and with a different school.

Another McCarty proved that it is a good place to shoot hoops. Derek Gobel, his family and friends will forever remember that he scored his first-ever points in his first-ever game at the old gym.

“The kids enjoyed the packed house,” Danny Pierce said. “It was a great atmosphere. I just want to thank the many people who got all this done, and give the Covington folks a special thank-you.”

“Playing in a packed gym has no other feeling like it in the world,” David Pierce said. ““It is and it was electric. The kids talked about how the hairs were standing up on the back of their necks. This is a historical night, and the atmosphere is unreal. This is just great for our kids. I’d love to do it again.”

Matt Petty got another Snickers bar from Mike and Jill Shubert, and we measured - it was exactly 10 feet from floor to rim.

A great night, great memories as a great family gathered together.

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