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A Highlight of the Season

The Eagles are heading to the first round of sectional play tonight to defend their sectional title from last year. Staff writing intern Aidan Kunst `20 reflects on a memorable experience from this season: the opporutnity to play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse after an Indiana Pacers game. 

On Saturday, February 1st, the EDS varsity basketball team had the chance of a lifetime, the opportunity to play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers and the premier arena in the state of Indiana. Typically this arena hosts just eight high school basketball games each year - the eight state championship games - but in a special partnership with the Indiana Pacers in which both schools had to sell a certain amount of tickets, we were able to face off against Eminence and emerged victorious, 64-46. Kyle Sokeland of the Evansville Courier and Press wrote an excellent article on how the game came to be played, so I thought I’d give a timeline of sorts, from a player’s perspective:

Saturday, February 1st. 12 p.m: The team arrives at Fishers High School in Fishers, IN, just outside of Indianapolis to shoot around. Matt Moore, the head coach at Fishers, talked to us for a little while about the importance of pushing through despite adversity. Prior to the game at Bankers Life, our team was 5-9 and enduring a bit of a rough patch, but Coach Moore preached about lifting each other up and “building a house.” We got up some shots for about an hour, and then checked into the hotel shortly afterwards. The excitement was building and with our hotel being right across from the arena, we couldn’t wait.

6:15 p.m: The cheerleaders, coaches, and players arrive at Bankers Life to check-in our bags, a process that dragged due to security reasons. As we walked in, it was incredibly exciting to think that our group was arriving as the team that would be playing later, not as fans; that in and of itself was enough to forget a little waiting. The NBA game between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers was being played prior to ours, so we were all able to watch. Because of that, we were escorted to a private conference room inside the arena, in which we put all of our stuff.

7:00 p.m: Everyone goes into the arena for two and a half hours of basketball, and I was immediately struck by the bright lights and size of the arena. Thousands of fans were packed into this place to see the Pacers play, and while they ultimately left before our game, it was very cool. The Knicks (my favorite team) lead the Pacers for most of the game and would eventually secure a rare win, but I was trying not to get too caught up in it, because I knew we had a game to play ourselves. I began to feel nervous as the NBA game started to come to a close…

10:00 p.m: As we anxiously wait in the two or three rows behind the court, we are asked to sign waivers and be patient as the Pacers organization cleans up the court and tapes down the high school three point line. Finally, we are allowed to head down a tunnel for the locker room that the Pacers’ cheerleaders use. The excitement is off the charts. We’re about to play at Bankers Life!

10:15 p.m: The team runs out for warmups, and several NBA players are hanging around, watching us shoot our layups. I’m trying to stay focused, but I can’t help but sneak a glance over there every once in awhile. Finally, warmups end, the starting lineups are announced, and we huddled up: “Eagles on three, one, two, three, EAGLES!”

10:30 p.m: Brock wins the tip, and we’re off. I had anticipated a slow start as both teams had to adjust to the longer, wider court, and the sheer magnitude of the arena, and that’s what happened. Scoring was slow until at the start of the second quarter, we went on a run, frustrating Eminence’s guards with our press. But as the quarter wore on, they wouldn’t go away. A 13-12 run for the Eels made it a 33-22 lead for us as we went to halftime. 

11:30 p.m: We were upset at halftime because we had kept them in it. We should’ve been leading by more, and we knew it. Everyone vowed to increase the lead in the third quarter, and increase the lead we did. Eminence only scored two points in the third quarter, and we scored 24. We dropped back into a 1-3-1 zone and trapped in the halfcourt rather than the full court, condensing the available space and creating easy buckets for Tyler off of Eminence turnovers. After that, some of the bench players got the chance to play on that floor, and Evan even hit a three, firing up both the crowd and the bench. 

Sunday, February 2nd. 12:00 a.m: The game ended with a  64-46 win and everyone stayed after to take pictures. The turnout was incredible, and in between taking pictures I had the opportunity to appreciate just how cool this was. As I looked around, all I saw were the faces of people from Day School that had driven three hours to support our team, people I consider family. To see everyone walking around this court, the pinnacle of high school basketball in hoops-crazed Indiana, was a moment I will not soon forget. 

The team hasn’t lost since, and is now 12-9. I would highly encourage anyone to come out to as many games as possible, because I truly think that while the record isn’t perfect, this is a special group capable of doing big things. We will play on Tuesday, March 3rd at Springs Valley against Springs Valley in the first round of Sectional play.