If it could fit 5,000 fans, they would have been there. But the cozy confines at one of the oldest gyms in Michiana sits just 2,000 plus. They packed the place for a historic evening.
It was an electric atmosphere, by 6:15---midway through the first quarter of the JV game. Fans were in their seats going crazy.
Because this was it.
After 57 years of memories, St. Joe's Alumni Gym was hosting its final varsity game.
"Now that it's the last time, you realize how special it really is," Indians senior Collin Hickey said about 40 minutes before St. Joe faced off against arch rival Marian.
Three men who played in the very first game at the Alumni Gym were on hand, including the Indians original center from 1955 Dick Hagye. He won the ceremonial opening tip from a gracious Marian player.
"I practice all the time," joked the 74-year-old Hagye. "This is just a celebration of our school and our life. We've lived this long and we are happy to be here."
And there was no better opponent than Marian.
"The arch rival and one of the best rivalries in the state," said Indians head coach and 1993 St. Joe grad Marty Harshman. "It's a great way to send off the gym."
Chants of "Indian Pride" belted through the gym as the varsity game played on.
At halftime, alumni photos by decade. Among those representing the 70s were two men who went on to great fame under Bobby Knight at Indiana--Tom Abernethy and John Laskowski.
tom abernethy sot---1972 all-state, played on last iu undefeated team in 1975-1976
"it's just a great, great gym," said Abernethy who went on to play for the IU's undefeated National Championship team in 1976. "I wish it could go on, I really do."
"It's sad in one respect but i'll never forget the memories of high school here," explained Laskowski.
The Holy War on the Hardwood will continue, just on a different hardwood.
The end result was not the last memory St. Joe fans wanted--Marian was the winner 64-49. But then again, most understood going in that the Knights were heavy favorite. In fact, a 16-2 St. Joe run in the 2nd quarter that cut the deficit from 20 to 6 gave some Indians' fans hope that maybe just maybe, something special could happen one last time.
But Coley Shultheis scored 22 points and Demetrius Jackson added 21 and the Knights rolled in the 2nd half. That didn't stop the fans.
"We have spirit, how bout you!" was belted back and forth for the last five minutes of the game between the two student bodies.
Rivals on the court, friends off of it--both student bodies came together for something truly unique at the end of the game-- a dual court rush.
A special ending for a special place. Marian and St. Joe meet again in the opening round of sectionals on Wednesday at Plymouth.
Boys basketball scores
Lakeshore 56, St. Joe 37
Bridgman 55, Berrien Springs 67
River Valley 35, Brandywine 70
Kalamazoo Central 64, Niles 61 (OT)
Munster 70, South Bend Riley 50
Marian 64, South Bend St. Joe 49
Angola 25, Lakeland 48
Bethany Christian 53, Fremont 44
Breman 50, Culver 54
Central Noble 52, Fairfield 54
Concord 67, Westview 48
E.C. Central 50, Washington 74
F.W. Canterbury 57, Elkhart Christian 55
Glenn 43, Penn 61
Goshen 66, West Noble 50
Kankakee Valley 49, North Judson 67
Knox 31, Triton 60
LaCrosse 53, Kouts 85
Lake Central 51, LaPorte 30
Michigan City 53, Valparaiso 46
Mishawaka 66, Culver Academy 63
Northridge 33, Dekalb 37
Northwood 45, Whitko 39
Rensselaer 50, Winamac 61
Tippecanoe Valley 54, Wawasee 56
Warsaw 57, F.W. Carroll 60
Westville 61, South Central 67
Lakeshore 38, St. Joe (MI) 56
Buchanan 31, Coloma 43