a rivalry that is older than Meyer Gym, fans, families, current
students, and cheerleaders and players from years past poured into the
auditorium on a Sunday night for an alumni showdown between Scottsburg
High School and Austin High School.
“There is still a rivalry
after all these years. That was the one game a year that you wanted to
win. If you could win one game a year, it would be against them,” said
Allen Barnett, a member of the Class of 1999 Warrior basketball team and
now a teacher at SHS.
The atmosphere electric and the true
meaning of Hoosier Hysteria was at an all-time high in Scott County as
the alumni Warriors and Warriorettes and the Austin Lady Eagles and
Eagles took the floor at the first-ever Thanksgiving Throwback
Throwdown, presented by the Scott County Youth Grantmaking Council. As
the players from far back as the Class of 1973 warmed up, Taylor Swift’s
song, “Bad Blood”, boomed through the gymnasium filled with about 2,500
“The rivalry was still alive last night even after all
these years. It was in the two schools coming to cheer on their team,
the purple and gold, and black and white in their respective seats in
the gym. You could just feel it in the air. It was awesome,” said Tiarra
English, who is a Class of 2007 cheerleader and now a teacher at
Scottsburg New Tech High School.
Despite the long-standing
rivalry, the teams, fans, students, and community came together to
support more than just their schools — they came to support their
community. The Thanksgiving Throwback Throwdown was a fundraiser for the
Scott County Youth Grantmaking Council, who grants funding to
youth-based and other community organizations.
“All the money
benefits the youth of Scott County — leadership and team-building
activities for the YGC members, and then they also use extra for their
grantmaking each year, which is for youth-related projects in Scott
County. They get applications from any organization that serves youth
and they evaluate and award money. This past May they funded $5,000 in
grants,” said Jaime Toppe, executive director of the Scott County
Community Foundation. “The YGC has two endowment funds to support their
grantmaking, and they do fundraisers every year to supplement their
grants and support their mission. They always receive more requests than
the funding they have, so this will be a great addition to help close
The idea to have an alumni game started in the spring
when Brittany Banister, an AHS cheerleader and now a teacher at
Vienna-Finley Elementary School, approached Toppe about having a game.
how intense everyone gets about basketball in Scott County, and how so
many people love to come home for the Thanksgiving rivalry, I knew it
would be a hit for our county,” Banister said. “Tying it into the YGC
[Scott County Youth Grantmaking Council] and Community Foundation seemed
like it would benefit our county in so many ways.”
From the idea
to planning in the summer months, the Scott County Youth Grantmaking
Council and Toppe started putting the pieces into place for the big
game. The group had to reserve Meyer Gym, which the Scott County School
District 2 School Board agreed to waive the facility fees, and schedule a
date for the game that did not conflict with the other Scottsburg and
Austin varsity games that take place during Rivalry Week. The Scott
County Youth Grantmaking Council came up with a name and ticket prices
and coordinated with others on concessions and flyers to use to recruit
and advertise the game. They also gathered sponsors to pay for all the
expenses — shirts, officials, trophies, half-time event, and other game
“I cannot thank Scott County School District 2 enough!
They donated the use of Meyer Gym and the cost of the custodians, who
were amazing with their help! Kevin Jentzen and Eric Copple set up our
photo slideshow for us. The Boosters are donating part of the
concessions proceeds...” Toppe said.
After all the planning, the
Scott County Youth Grantmaking Council utilized key, former basketball
players to find other players to play in the alumni game. For SHS,
Melinda Sparkman and Jacob Johanningsmeier helped recruit the basketball
players and Jason Kendall helped coordinate the SHS cheerleaders. For
AHS, Jared Petersen and Courtney McGinity-Hover helped recruit the
basketball players and Banister helped coordinate the AHS cheerleaders.
recruiting] started by mouth. I have stayed in contact with many of
them. — probably the easiest way was through Facebook,” said Sparkman, a
Class of 1979 Warriorette, SCSD2 coach for the last 30 years, former
Indiana University women’s basketball player, Indiana Basketball Hall of
Fame inductee, and SCSD2 treasurer and business manager. “The
Warriorette family is big and going strong. It’s a really neat group of
women that are still connected in many ways because of basketball.”
the rosters set, the game was set with the Warriorettes and Lady Eagles
taking the floor first. The Warriorettes’ team consisted of players
from every decade in the last 40 years with a concentration in the
mid-1990s. The Lady Eagles featured many of their alumnae from the
current decade and the one prior with many players from the 2010 state
“I think the best part of playing in the alumni
game was getting to play with childhood heroes (Hutchinson, Mays,
Thompson girls, etc.), girls I shared the court with in my era, and
girls that I coached at the high school level,” said Tiffany Copple,
Class of 2001 Warriorette, former coach, and current Scottsburg Middle
School teacher. “It was also amazing to run out onto the floor again
with a ball in my hand, the sound of the crowd, and the anticipation of a
The Warriorettes and Lady Eagles battled it out
with full-court pressing, tumbles to the floor, and intensity in every
play. Patty Clancy, a Class of 1994 Warriorette and former Ball State
University women’s basketball player, hit the first points for the SHS
alumni squad. The crowd went wild when Sparkman scored two points down
low in the first half at the two-and-one-half minute mark.
completely different for me. It’s been 16 years since I’ve played
competitively. I really can’t compare to what it was like in high
school,” Clancy said. “It was so fun participating in the alumni game.
It was great to represent our school, team, and community.”
By the game’s end, the Warriorettes fell to the Lady Eagles, 31-48.
bleed purple and gold and so appreciate my glory days. It was a chance
to reconnect with former teammates and players. And, I knew what a great
atmosphere it would be,” Sparkman said.
“There were frustrating
moments during the alumni game. Moments when my teenage self may have
let those frustrations get to me,” Tiffany Copple said. “When you hear
your students cheering for you and see your own children in the stands,
you make sure that your priorities and character remain intact. What an
amazing opportunity to show the younger people how it should be done!”
between the games, the Scott County Youth Grantmaking Council held a
halftime raffle, where the winner had the chance to win $100. In order
to win, the winner had to make a layup, free throw, three-point shot,
and a half-court shot in less than one minute. The second person to
attempt it, Jake Kitchell, hit the final, half-court shot with only
seconds left on the clock to win the $100. Kitchell played for the
Indiana State University Sycamores and is now a professional basketball
player in Europe.
After the Warriorettes finished, the Warriors
and Eagles took the floor following the stunts and cheers of the SHS and
AHS cheerleaders. While the players and cheerleaders have aged, the
excitement before every basketball game begins at Meyer Gym did not
“I just really enjoyed the atmosphere and the amount of
people that showed up for such a great cause in our community. If
another community was to try to do something like this, there is no way
it would be as successful as it was here in Scott County,” said Dustin
Marshall, Class of 2005 Warrior, former Franklin College men’s
basketball player, and now the director of special education at SCSD2.
“That is a true testament to both Austin and Scottsburg, and the passion
that both schools have for the basketball programs and ultimately for
our community. What an amazing experience!”
The Warriors featured
players from the 1990s and up to last year, including James Colwell, who
is a Class of 1998 Warrior and played at Gardner-Webb University, and
Evan Hutchinson, who is a Class of 2004 Warrior and played at Oakland
City University. The Eagles had players as early as 1977 with Mike
Barrett, who was up against his son, Christian, a Class of 2015 Warrior.
The rest of the Eagle squad was from 1999 to 2015 and included local
basketball legend Anthony Winchester, who played at Western Kentucky
University and has enough accolades and records that more than half of
one page of the program was devoted to his extensive basketball career
“I knew going into it that I wouldn’t be nearly as
competitive as some of the younger guys that were scheduled to play, but
having a chance to be a part of something like this was something that I
did not want to pass up,” said Eric Copple, Class of 1999 Warrior and
now network administrator at SCSD2.
The game started with
Winchester hitting three points and SHS responding with two points. The
back-and-forth between the two teams carried on for several minutes
during the first half. The matchup intensity turned up between
Hutchinson and Winchester as balls were deflected, points were scored,
and the drive to the basket came with a speed and a power that only age
By the end, the Warriors were defeated by the Eagles, 44-79.
best part of playing in the alumni game was seeing the community come
together with such an amazing turnout and having a chance to see some
old players that I have not seen in a long time. Sports have a way of
creating relationships that last long after the season is over and
having a chance to connect with some of those guys again on the court
was a fun experience,” Eric Copple said.
After the games ended,
the real winners of the alumni tournament shined — the community.
Because of the thousands of dollars raised, the Scott County Youth
Grantmaking Council and the Scott County Community Foundation are able
put the money back into the community through granting projects the
benefit local residents.
“This will help sustain it,” said Jordan
Shuler, Scott County Youth Grantmaking Council member and the chairman
of the committee that organized the alumni game. “We have helped every
single school in this county with projects in classrooms — the American
Studies film library, Blessings in a Backpack, the United Way. This will
benefit the youth of Scott County.”
While the rivalry between the
two school exists, the alumni game was a positive for the county and
the fans, players, students, cheerleaders, and community came together
to help one another.
“I thought that [the alumni game] showed how
the community can come together to better the county. There is still
good in the community and I hope that this event will get a lot of
publicity,” Barnett said.
“Although I work for SCSD2 and my kids
go to Vienna-Finley, I am a supporter of Scott County. Austin is my
hometown, and I'm very proud of that. I think the alumni game proved
that the when we come together to support a common cause, we can do big
things,” Banister said.
The Thanksgiving Throwback Throwdown was a
way for the community to come together for a common good — the people,
especially the youth, of Scott County. At Scott County School District
2, the story of basketball tradition and friendly competition is our
story. Your story matters. You matter.