From backboards bolted to the side of a barn to storied gyms that hold thousands, basketball is in Indiana’s blood. Generations have come together to watch and cheer Hoosier Hysteria, creating memories of a lifetime and stories of hoops greats.
With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bring March Madness to Indiana in 2021, the close-knit communities of Elkhart County can bask in their best and brightest basketball moments.
North Side Gym
Basketball people in Indiana consider North Side Gym in Elkhart to be one of the cathedrals of Indiana high school basketball.
Since it opened in 1954, it has been not only the home to Elkhart’s high school basketball teams but also the host of numerous tournament games, meaning some of the best players in northern Indiana have played here.
Thousands of high school basketball players honed their craft in Elkhart County, and many went on to also play in the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments.
John Ritter of Goshen High School made the 1973 NCAA Men’s Final Four with Indiana University as one of the stars of legendary coach Bob Knight’s first great teams.
Ted Luckenbill of Elkhart High School was the leading scorer on the 1961 University of Houston team that played in the NCAA Men’s Tournament.
Jamar Johnson of Concord High School was a key contributor at the University of Nebraska, which played in three consecutive NCAA Men’s Tournaments from 1992-94.
Alana Burns of Concord High School was a member of the 1997 Michigan State women’s basketball team that played in the NCAA Tournament.
Jeff Massey of Concord High School began his college career at Owens Technical College, but moved on Xavier University, helping the school to its 1995 NCAA Men’s Tournament appearance.
Carol Duncan of NorthWood High School made four appearances in the NCAA Women’s Tournament for powerhouse Purdue University teams from 2003-2006.
Daimon Beathea of Elkhart Memorial High School played four seasons Michigan State University, making the NCAA Men’s Tournament in 1993 and 1994.
Andy Hirschy of NorthWood High School made appearances in the 1997 and ’98 NCAA Men’s Tournament for Butler University.
Dean Foster of Elkhart High School went to the 1966 NCAA Men’s Tournament with the University of Cincinnati. He and his teammates nearly scored an upset of eventual champion Texas Western.
Last but not least
You can’t talk about basketball in Elkhart County without mentioning Shawn Kemp. Elkhart County’s most illustrious player, the Concord High School graduate never played in the NCAA Tournament, instead starring in the NBA for 14 seasons, most notably for the Seattle SuperSonics.