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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Ticket #9: Hall's a haven for hoopsters

This is the ninth in a series of 18 stories examining the best events an Indiana sports fan would want to see over a lifetime.

Drive past the cornfields of east-central Indiana, through the small city of New Castle, where the likes of Steve Alford, Kent Benson and Zach Hahn shot baskets at the city park, and turn east on Trojan Lane. That's where a basketball fan in Indiana can find roundball heaven – the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

The museum is filled with memorabilia, exhibits and much more that bring the grand tradition of Indiana's favorite sport to life.

With the advent of class basketball in 1997, Hoosier Hysteria has taken its lumps. But for a brief period, fans of all ages can step back in time and get a feel for what Hoosiers grew to worship about the sport.

The names of Robertson, Plump, Bird, Knight and more adorn the walls as inductees into the Hall of Fame. Every county in the state is recognized in some form, and virtually every school has a tie to the Hall.

In 2008, then-Democratic candidate for president Sen. Barack Obama demanded that on his national campaign tour one stop would be at the Hall. There he took a guided tour and learned of the contributions the Hoosier State had made to his favorite sport.

Though high school basketball has been the foundation for the state's passion, the Hall also recognizes the players, coaches and officials with Indiana ties who made the game great at the college, professional and international levels.

The Hall celebrates its heritage several times annually with banquets and receptions that honor basketball legends.

Often those events prove to be as entertaining as some of the games that fans recall.

The events provide an opportunity for fans to reminisce with and get autographs from the heroes of their younger years.

Among 2011 Hall of Fame inductees were Charlie Stanski (1943 graduate of Fort Wayne Central High School) and Ivan Wilhelm (1947 graduate of Huntington High School).

Huntington North's Brian Reeder, Gary Paul and Jenny (Eckert) Zorger; Northrop's Tony Jones; Woodlan's Robert Geistwhite; and Bluffton's Chandra (Reeves) Cooley were named to the 2011 Silver Anniversary squad for recognition by the Hall.

One of the more popular events conducted is the City Securities Hall of Fame Classic basketball tournament each December.

The eight-team boys and girls tournaments always feature some of the top teams and players from around the state.

On Dec. 29, Norwell will participate in the girls tournament.

The Hall is open seven days a week throughout the year.

For more information about the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, visit www.hoosphall.com.