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 Rushville Fans Gave New Meaning to Loyalty, Cheering for One's Team

Many years ago I dated a girl who wasn’t happy unless she was complaining about something. There were even some days she would complain that there wasn’t anything to complain about.

Of course I realize part of that compulsive behavior could have been the fact that she was dating me, but that’s another subject we just aren’t going to visit.

But speaking of complaining, Saturday night the Knightstown Panthers put on a pretty good show against a very talented and much taller group of Rushville Lions. The Panthers lost the game 78-68. Throughout that contest, the Rushville fans protested compulsively against literally every call that went against their team.

It was the most passionate showing of support for one’s team that I’ve seen since, well, last year’s game against the Rushville Lions.

Those people are just bananas for their basketball team. But they do take it to the extreme. One fan was removed by an official. At least two others were warned. Most of their complaints were over fairly obvious fouls called on Rushville players.

The Lions fans voiced their displeasure over the call every time the officials blew the whistle. I left the game with the impression that those fans would have only been happy had their team not been called for a single foul, whistled for a single turnover, or even made one mistake during the game. When their player missed a shot, he must have been fouled. When a Panther hit a shot, he had traveled. Not one call – or no call - was spared the passionate protest.

It’s obviously not tractor season in Rush County yet, because it’s clear that basketball is the only thing going on down there. Their complaints over the most obvious of calls by the refs got to the point of ridiculous by halftime, but they nonetheless saw literally no fault in their team.

I loved their passion. I haven’t seen anything resembling that in more than 10 years, dating back to the era prior to class basketball, before the heart of the state tournament was ripped out.

Rushville fans even complained when the call went their way, because the previous one didn’t. “Oh, now you get it right!”

I scanned the crowd, expecting to see that ex-girlfriend wearing a “Lion Fan Choreographer” T-shirt.

Panther coach John Howell called for a time out, and one Lion fan screamed at the officials. “They waited five seconds to start the timer!” Wow, the clock-keeper didn’t start the timer for the 30-seconds fast enough, giving, well, both teams five more seconds of rest.

Now you’re protesting how quickly they set the clock for a time out?

That’s passion for your team, even if it makes no sense.

I wonder, are they that animated about everything? When it is tractor season and the seeds are in the ground, soaking up a spring shower, are they standing in the fields, pointing up to the Heavens and shouting?

“Rain? You call this freaking rain? Come on!”

Makes you wonder.


For those of you who are wondering about something else, former Knightstown basketball coach Chad Ballenger is doing pretty well at Hamilton Heights High School. The coach who led the Panthers to three straight sectional titles has guided the Huskies to a 13-7 record, their best regular season performance in five years. Ballenger attended the Knightstown-Rushville game Saturday night and spoke with some of his former players.

His Huskies will find out what they are made of in their first sectional game, as they drew 13-7 New Palestine in the second game of the five-team sectional. The Dragons are also 13-7. Hamilton Heights has won seven of its last nine games, while New Palestine has won its last three.


I didn’t go to the game, but I’m guessing Morristown fans were not protesting very many calls in their game against Eastern Hancock last week. The Yellow Jackets paraded to the free throw line 42 times and hit 37. Morristown, 2-15 at the time, out-scored the Royals by 30 points, 37-7, from the charity stripe and upset Eastern Hancock 64-54.

Can you imagine Rushville fans standing for that many one-sided calls by the officials?


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