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 Sectional Drawing Pits Royals, Bulldogs in First Round Battle

The drawing for the Class 2A boys basketball sectional at Hagerstown was conducted Sunday night, and for the most part, Knightstown Panther fans should be smiling. The team will play Hagerstown next Wednesday night, and they are fresh off a 78-49 win over the Tigers.

Also in the bottom bracket of the sectional field you will find Eastern Hancock and Centerville squaring off, and those teams are the overwhelming favorites to win the tournament. What you have is a great draw for the Panthers and a difficult one for the Royals and Bulldogs.

The last time Eastern Hancock and Centerville played, back in November in the season opener, the Royals pulled out a dramatic three-overtime, 67-61 victory. If Knightstown beats the Tigers, and they should, they’ll get the winner of the Royals and Bulldogs two days after their much-anticipated rematch.

If their game unfolds the way it should, whoever wins between the Royals and Bulldogs could be exhausted just in time for their semifinal game against Knightstown.

Then again, Knightstown has to get there.

It would probably take four pages of The Banner to do justice to the dramatic upsets in sectional history that involved the Knightstown Panther boys basketball teams. Without digging into the Hoosier hoops history books, a few of those surprises come to mind and most of them occurred before today’s players were even born and in the era before class basketball.

Two of the most painful examples of underachieving Panther sectional outings occurred in the mid-1970s. In 1974, Knightstown was one of the overwhelming favorites to take the New Castle Sectional title and drew Blue River in the first round.

The Panthers had already soundly thumped the Vikings during the regular season, and won their season finale at home against 16th-ranked Rushville 74-72. But in the first game of the sectional, KHS fell behind by double digits early. Despite a late rally, the Vikings held on for a huge upset win over the Panthers.

The very next year the Panthers returned the bulk of their team and compiled a record of 18-2. Those 1975 Panthers are to this day considered by some to be one of the greatest teams ever at KHS, with Brent Magee, Jeff Galyen, Jerry Brown, Galen Thomas, Marty Wells and Derek Spears highlighting the roster. They finished the season by upsetting the state’s number two ranked team, Rushville, on the Lions’ home court nonetheless, 74-64. The Lions had beaten New Castle two weeks earlier, 94-64, so the sectional appeared to be Knightstown’s for the taking.

They lost in the second round to Mt. Vernon by 11 points.

The biggest success story of the 1970s occurred two years later, when an average Panther team (10-10) went into the sectional with little more than slim hopes of winning a game. That year a sophomore named Art Rose took the sectional field by surprise by leading Knightstown to upset wins over Union and New Castle. The team lost the sectional championship game by just one point. Rose had 85 points in the three sectional games, including 39 against the Trojans.

In 1986, a heavily favored 18-3 Panther team was upset by a below-average New Castle squad in the sectional’s second round. Knightstown had led by double digits most of the first half, and lost in the final minutes.

Just two years ago, Knightstown, which was ranked number one in the state at one point in the season, was upset by Centerville in the first round of the regional. They owned a previous 14-point win over Centerville on the Bulldogs’ home court.

In short, when it comes to tournament time in Indiana, anything can happen on any given night. Just ask the Lady Panthers, who after beating Centerville by seven points during the season, lost to them in the sectional by 23. That is a 30-point turnaround, and the boys certainly can’t allow that to happen.

For the Panthers to get a rematch against either Eastern Hancock (KHS lost to the Royals 63-53 after leading 36-32 at halftime) or Centerville (KHS lost to the Bulldogs 63-60 when Centerville went on a 23-6 second-half run), they will first have to deal with Hagerstown.

History tells us Knightstown will have to play, and win, that game first.


Sorry folks, but I just can’t let this one go by.

I take exception to whomever the Panther fan was tossing out insults and calling the referees at Waldron “The Three Stooges” during last Friday’s game. The insult caused the ref to actually stop the game and threaten to remove the fan. I imagine the ref felt the same way I did, in that The Three Stooges were comedic geniuses whose television shows and movies took you in a specific direction. They were absolutely brilliant and way ahead of their time. The three referees at Waldron Friday night were bumbling idiots who lacked direction and consistency. However, those refs were a throwback to the time of the Three Stooges, when “homer” referees were fairly commonplace in high school basketball. I fear that the fan’s comparison of those referees to The Three Stooges is an insult to Moe, Larry and Curly and could give youngsters the wrong impression that The Three Stooges were really that inept. Those guys were just acting. The referees weren’t acting, they were really that bad.


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