Fall Cities Fantatics
story by: contributing writer, Brian Sullivan, WNAS Radio/TV General Manager
photos were provided by Brian Sullivan
This photo has four Silver Anniversary recipients and two Indiana All-Stars in (left to right): LaDrell Whitehead, Sherron Wilkerson, Noy Castillo and B.J. Flyn
Indiana is home to many intense rivalries, some involving conference foes, others pitting schools from the same town. Then there’s the unique nature of Jeffersonville vs. New Albany. Nowhere in the state are there two large schools that are not in the same city (or even county) that are nonetheless right on top of each other. Animosity borne of that proximity has become legendary as a result.
No schools south and east of Bloomington have the resumes of these two. Their overall state tournament tallies are not to the level of the sheer numbers put up by Kokomo, Marion, or Lafayette Jeff. Then again, for many decades in the single class era these behemoths fed into the same sectional and had another titan to contend with. New Albany has championship edges in sectionals (53-39), semi states (9-6) and state titles (2-1). Jeffersonville matches their arch-rivals in regional crowns (18 apiece) and has a 2-1 edge in Mr. Basketballs (or maybe a tie depending on how you look at 1993). The Bulldogs have a 17-12 advantage in the All-Star count and hold an 84-81 series lead, even with Jeffersonville’s come-from-behind 67-63 win in January. In tournament play, however, the Red Devils carry a 32-29 edge all-time.
Sometimes the rivalry manifests itself in on-court excellence. Five straight years (1992-1996) the winner of their showdown in the Seymour Regional finals advanced to the Final Four. Five times in seven years in that era, one of the two came into their regular season matchup ranked #1 in Indiana…and four of those five times, the #1 ranked team left the gym with their first loss of the season.
Sometimes the rivalry manifested itself by barely existing. Such was the case when hostilities spilled over to fistfights and acts of vandalism that resulted in the series to be cancelled altogether. After New Albany’s 60-49 win in 1949, the two would not meet in the regular season for another thirteen years. The only chance to see the Dogs and Devils on the court came in state tournament play. Jeff won three of those five tournament meetings in the 1950s, but New Albany had the last laugh by advancing to the state finals at Hinkle four times that decade.
The intensity outside of the gym has lessened—slightly—over the decades. Providence opened in 1951, siphoning off students from both schools. In 1967, Floyd Central was created and absorbed a large chunk of New Albany’s district. The rise of Silver Creek as a power down south over the past decade has created a new rival as well. As with many places around the state, the addition of girls’ sports, consolidations, technological distractions that exist have all factored into a decline in boys basketball attendance. Still, sellouts in this series over the last three decades have remained commonplace. Games are typically covered by four television stations, three radio stations, two newspapers and even (at times) pay-per-view TV, and interest remains strong.
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