Broad Ripple, Arlington basketball teams meet for the last time

Xavier White (22) of Broad Ripple Rockets presents Lyriq Spencer (3) of Arlington Golden Knights at Arlington High School on Friday, February 9, 2018.

INDIANAPOLIS – Jerry Cox glanced around the Arlington gym minutes before the notice on Friday night and smiled. The Arlington Band played. When it stopped, the Broad Ripple Band started. In the stands, the dance teams danced on both sides – alumni and current students.

“This,” said Cox, an eminent Broad Ripple employee in the mid-1970s, “is how it used to be.”

It was a night of celebration. A night of sadness. A basketball night. With the looming closure of Broad Ripple and the transition from Arlington to middle school at the end of the school year, basketball programs met for the last time on Friday night.

Broad Ripple won in a classic fight 52-51. But it wasn’t so much the bottom line that mattered. Towards the end of the first quarter, Broad Ripple fans broke in, “We’re the Rock-ets!” Singing. Several alums, wearing gold and black Arlington shirts, stood up and cheered.

It was that kind of night in Arlington that opened on East 46th Street and Arlington Avenue in 1961. No enemies. Just one final game between two schools 5½ miles apart with a proud basketball legacy.

“The fans, parents, and most importantly, the alumni have been very supportive of us all year,” said Scott Hicks, eighth-year trainer at Broad Ripple, a 1983 graduate of the Cathedral. “We have had a lot of support. They are very proud of this program and we are proud of this kind of support. “

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An Arlington Golden Knights fan reacts during the game against the Broad Ripple Rockets at Arlington High School on Friday, February 9, 2018.

Chelsea Hardy made the 15-hour drive from Houston to be here on Thursday. Hardy, a 2008 graduate, served on the Arlington Goldenaires dance team in high school. Goldenaries from the senior year of 1973 joined Hardy as they danced in the stands alongside the current students.

“I left at 6:30 am (Thursday) and got here at 11 am,” said Hardy.

Why? That’s a simple answer for Hardy, who works as a case manager in foster families after graduating from Kentucky State.

“Arlington made me who I am,” she said. “It has given me so many opportunities to go to college and move on. I was a goldenaire in high school and those games were huge. Arlington vs. Broad Ripple? You don’t miss that. We’d spend weeks preparing to be perfect for the Broad Ripple game. I couldn’t miss that around the world. “

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Hardy was almost moved to tears as she warmed up with her ex-classmates for the game in the back gym. Shelby Livingston, born in 2009, was nearby. He played basketball in Arlington and was a drum major.

“We’re a family in Arlington,” said Hardy. “It broke my heart to just go in and watch the JV game. This place is too important to close. It breaks my heart. “

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Wayne Radford sat three rows down in the stands behind the Arlington Bank. He gave up Indiana Hoosier’s basketball tickets to be here. “That was so important,” he said.

There will be other Indiana games. There won’t be many nights like this. Before Radford made a name for himself as a member of the Indiana National Championship team in 1976, the 6-3 Radford played here as the Golden Knight. In January 1974, Radford and his Arlington team beat Broad Ripple 84-80 in front of a sold-out audience to see the top 10 state teams.

“It was a big game, with a standing audience,” said Radford, who led Arlington to its only regional championship in school history in 1974. “It was such a big rivalry. The teams in town were so competitive and so tough. “

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Radford doesn’t come back to Arlington as often as he’d like.

“When they made the decision to close certain schools, neither of us could do anything,” said Radford. “It’s all about the numbers and you can carve the numbers to look what you want. Instead of saying there is a way to do it, it’s sad to see these two great schools and great programs go away. “

Radford attended School 11 in Elementary School, the same school that Mike Woodson brought up. Radford went to Arlington. Woodson went to Broad Ripple. Radford helped recruit Woodson to Indiana.

“We were in a neighborhood game when he left middle school and I was in Arlington in my sophomore year,” said Radford. “I told all the guys we played with, ‘This boy is going to be different.’ Mike could deposit shots from anywhere. “

He did too. Woodson scored 2,061 points in Indiana prior to an 11-year NBA career. But an old rivalry never dies. Radford called Woodson on Friday to talk about some trash.

“I told him the all-time series was 50 to 50,” said Radford. “I don’t know what it is, but I told him that. I said, ‘As soon as we win, I’ll own you.’ “

***

King Duke played point guard on the only state championship team in Broad Ripple history in 1980. Duke was listed at 5-5. “It wasn’t me,” said Duke with a laugh, “but maybe 5-4.”

Duke couldn’t make it on Friday. He was at home in Anderson. But before he hung up on Friday afternoon, these last words came: “Go Broad Ripple!”

Every year the Rockets took home the Battle Ax, which was awarded to the winner of the rivalry game. It will return to Broad Ripple for now. What happens to it from there? Who knows.

The last word in the rivalry technically belongs to Broad Ripple. But can it be called a win if those old rivals don’t play again next year? Half an hour after the buzzer, fans and friends lingered on Arlington Court.

“It was a good ending,” said Cox. “But it’s a shame it has to end.”

Call star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

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WIDE RIPPLE 52, ARLINGTON 51

Wide waviness 19 14 9 10 – 52
Arlington 10 14 14 13-51

Broad ripple (12-7) – Gordon 3, Scott 6, White 21, Brown 10, Henderson 10, Hicks 2.

Arlington (11-6) – Washington 9, Spencer 10, Vaughn 11, Hobby 18, Howard 1, Davenport 2.

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