FORT WAYNE – One day, members of the Norwell boys basketball team will return to their alma mater during a reunion or just to visit and see reminders of this season when they made history.
The school has won two Class 3A state baseball titles and has two second-place finishes in football. But to be the first basketball team from Norwell to get this far in a state that reveres its basketball is something pretty special and something these Knights will not soon forget.
We will always be in the record books as the first team ever, senior Caleb Featherston said. Our picture will always be there. Its a big thing for the school and community. You can tell the community is enjoying it because you could see how many people showed up to Saturdays (semistate) game. It was more than any other school.
The community – at least 1,100 of them – turned out last Saturday at Huntington North to watch the Knights dispatch Mishawaka Marian 76-67 in the semistate.
Athletic director Eric Morgan was given 2,800 tickets to try to sell for todays 3A state title game against Guerin Catholic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. As of midweek, he had sold close to 900 but admitted that with spring break starting this weekend it would be good to even match the 1,100 presale tickets sold last week.
Some fans were reluctant to change spring break plans, but even so, this team has made a lasting mark on the school, the program and the greater Ossian community.
Its about exciting as it gets, senior Garrett Bucher said. It is an incredible feeling. The community is feeling it because we have never been down there.
My brother (Grant) went to the 2006 football state finals, and I was always hoping to get to one. I didnt know if it was going to happen or not.
The Norwell faithful have been on a high since a 63-58 regional semifinal win over No. 2 Muncie Central two weeks ago.
It was big, but our confidence level has always been high, coach Randy Hawkins said of beating the Bearcats. The confidence level from Muncie Central was huge. They were a tremendous team. We didnt shoot particularly well in that game, but we believed in ourselves. Our confidence has been pretty high, but not overly high just because of that win.
This is a Knights team that is 24-2 and 11 points from being undefeated with a 46-45 loss to Bluffton and a 75-65 defeat to Homestead that cost Norwell an NHC championship.
And its been quite a week for the school and the girls basketball program with senior Jessica Rupright being named the 2012 Miss Basketball and girls coach Eric Thornton being honored by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association as a district coach of the year.
Could it get any better for Norwell?
Well, yes, a state championship trophy would probably look pretty good in the trophy case next to the team picture of this years Knights.
Its a dream come true, but we are here to win and not just be happy with being here, senior Grant Baker said.