Community big winner in record turnout for last game

Last Muncie Central vs South Game - Photo by Stephanie Tarrant

Muncie Central and Munice South Play Final Game

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Dave Shondell, Purdue women's volleyball coach and Central Bearcats graduate did not hesitate when asked about the recent Muncie school consolidation.

 "It is one shot at victory," said the legendary Shondell, standing with some of Muncie's sporting greats at the final Central South boys' basketball game.

 For Muncie City Council President Julius Anderson, a South Rebels graduate, it was a bittersweet night seeing his team lose to Central for the last time.

Anderson, also a former school board member, saw the consolidation as inevitable as student enrollment declined. On a cold and snowy winter night, he hoped thee moment of Muncie history would bring the community together.

The Muncie Fieldhouse brought more than 5,000 people together as some of the sporting greats thought it was as full as the Central Milan reunion a decade ago with that infamous Bearcat team beat by tiny Milan and Bobby Plum.

The rich history of Muncie basketball came alive during the girls and boys game with dozens of Central, South and North sports alumni recognized throughout the night.

There were members of those state championship teams of 1951-52 like Tom Raisor, and Charlie Mock. Mr. Basketball Rick Jones - of the 1963 championship team - was also present. And NBA star Bonzi Wells - who got his start at Central - was in attendance.

Wells talked with Muncie Free Press about the impact Central basketball had on his life, and his time in professional basketball. He also mentioned wanting to be a coach to help teach youth all the skills he learned.

"If I could give back an ounce of all this community has given me," he said.

Many remember that one handed dunk at Ball State's Worthen Arena one February night in 1998 where he broke the Mid American Conference scoring record before a sell-out crowd. Then President John Worthen stopped the game and awarded Wells the ball at that moment.

Wells thought Muncie schools provided a great tribute to the generations of sporting alumni and he was glad to be a part of the friendship and community found at the Fieldhouse Friday night.

For others, like Jack Isenbarger, it was another chance to relive history even if you were not among the great championship teams. Isenbarger played in 1941 when the Bearcats had limited success. But his son would see success in football there and later Indiana when the Hoosiers went to the Rose Bowl in 1968.

Others like Bill Shroyer, owner of Vogue Cleaners, wanted to witness history again. Shroyer attended the first Central South game in 1964 and also the first Central North game in 1970.

The game between the city rivals did not last long. Central took a fast break, leading 8-0 at the start, and South never caught up.

The Rebels were down as many as 23 at one point as Central seemed to take away the ball and score any time they wanted. South went on a 10 point run late in the second half, but Central still led with starters on the bench and won 72-55. 

The cold, snowy winter night was symbolic of high school basketball and tournament time.

As some alumni said, one school could return Central to basketball greatness not seen since the last championship in 1988.Those eight state champion banners in the Fieldhouse can't be found anywhere else in Indiana.

And the Central memorabilia room and its curators, Jay and Shirley Pittenger, were on hand to remind any visitor of the rich history of basketball in Muncie.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tarrant

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tarrant

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tarrant

Facebook comments