Fairbanks’ Braylon Green (23) hits a jumper during a 2018-19 season game. The Panthers and North Union will play a game against each other on Dec. 28 in Indiana. The game will be played in the gym that was the location for the film “Hoosiers.” (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
It has been described by many in the movie industry as one of the best sports films ever made.
“Hoosiers” is the 1987-released flick that details a 1950s-era high school basketball team called the Hickory Huskers.
The movie starred acclaimed actor Gene Hackman as Norman Dale, a disgraced former college basketball coach who finds redemption in guiding Hickory to the Indiana state championship.
Many of the basketball action scenes were filmed in a gymnasium that is located in Knightstown, Ind.
The facility has kept the same look as it did when the movie was filmed in 1985.
A museum and community center are part of the gymnasium and it attracts approximately 80,000 tourists a year.
A number of this year’s tourists will include folks from both the northern and southern ends of Union County.
That’s because the boys basketball squads from North Union and Fairbanks will make the 2 1/2 hour trek to Knightstown to play JV and varsity games against each other on Saturday, Dec. 28.
The junior varsity contest will tip off at 2:30 p.m., with varsity action to begin at approximately 4 p.m.
North Union head coach Brian Terrill was the originator of the idea.
“We wanted to do something special for our basketball team,” said Terrill. “Our team has worked doing fund raisers to make this possible and all of our costs are paid for by our fund raisers. There is zero cost to the school.”
Money raised will help pay the rental of the gym, which is reportedly $300 for the day.
North Union officials had reached out to other schools for the special event, but schedules could not be arranged. They then called Fairbanks.
“Brian proposed the game to us,” said Panther head coach Justin George. “We thought about it for a while and told North Union right after school started this fall that we’d like to play the game.”
The Panthers and Wildcats have played home-and-home contests over the past several seasons.
Fairbanks was scheduled to host this year’s game and the contest in Knightstown will still be considered the Panthers’ home game.
As such, Fairbanks will pay the going rate ($45 for jayvee and $68 for varsity) for the referees of both contests. They will be paid from the athletic department fund.
“We played at North Union last year in February,” said FHS athletic director Larry Morris. “It was our turn to play at our place this year, but we hadn’t yet nailed down a date.”
The schools will take different approaches toward the trip.
North Union will leave Richwood the day before the game via a chartered bus.
“We will stay two nights in a hotel and return to North Union Sunday afternoon,” said Terrill.
The Panthers plan on leaving at 7:30 a.m. the day of the game and make one food stop en route to Indiana.
“We’re going to take a school bus over,” said George. “We’ll play the games and make a stop on the way back.
“We should get back home about 10:30 p.m.”
Both coaches said their players are looking forward to the outing.
“Our players, coaches and fans are very excited about the ‘Hoosiers’ event,” said Terrill. “Many of us consider the ‘Hoosiers’ movie and the story of Hickory High School to be one of the best sports movies of all time.
“To get to be in the locker rooms and play a game in the gym where it all happened and the movie filmed will be surreal for the entire community.
“We are using this as team-building weekend,” he said. “Our coaching staff believes this will be a weekend our players will remember the rest of their lives.
“The fact we were able to get our county-rival Fairbanks to agree to play in the game will make it extra energy-filled.”
“This will be fun,” agreed George. “Both teams will be able to experience playing in the gym that was the setting for a well-known, classic basketball film.”
There will be presale tickets available at a later date, closer to the game, at both schools.
Morris said he believes the tickets will cost $10.
“If any tickets remain, those will be available at the door,” said Terrill. “Further details about tickets will be available as we get closer to the game date.”
While folks from both schools are excited about the upcoming trip, the venture could fall victim to any hazardous winter weather that may happen to occur.
“You can’t plan for bad weather, but you have to prepare for it,” said Morris. “We and North Union officials will coordinate what will happen if the weather sounds bad.
“Since both teams have to travel more than two hours to get to the game, we could cancel the trip simply based on a weather forecast a few days out.”
If weather forces the cancelation of the games, the Panthers and Wildcats will reschedule JV and varsity contests for later in the season at Fairbanks, according to Morris.
Connor Terrill (0) of North Union drives to the basket in this file photo. NU will play Fairbanks on Dec. 28 in Indiana. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
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