Inspired by their favorite movie "Hoosiers," four former Utah high school basketball players have teamed up with the real-life Jimmy Chitwood in an effort to preserve Indiana's one-class state tournament.
Cottonwood alums Christopher Ashby and Brad Miller, along with Olympus grads Joel Hinckley and Jared Cottam, are circulating a petition asking the Indiana High School Athletic Association to reconsider plans to alter the state's 83-year format - an all-inclusive, one champion, tournament in favor of a four-class system."We were just shocked that they would change a time-honored tradition. Is nothing sacred?" said Ashby. "Coming from a basketball state, we want to pledge our support."
The Utahns, who have already gathered more than 100 signatures, joined forces with preservation-minded "Friends of Hoosier Hysteria." Ashby and company telephoned Bobby Plump, the group's leader and the man who hit the game-winning shot that lifted tiny Milan High to the 1954 Indiana state championship, after reading about the controversy in the Deseret News.
"I was surprised, but then I wasn't," the Indiana hoop hero said from "Plump's Last Shot" - the Indianapolis restaurant he owns. "It's incredible to me how much (interest) this has created outside of Indiana."
Plump said he has received calls of support from all across the nation. He encourages backers to write letters to the IHSAA office and send copies to his establishment at: 6416 Cornell Ave. North, Indianapolis, Indiana 46220.
He notes that surveys indicate a majority of players, coaches and the general population want to keep the old system in place. "Friends of Hoosier Hysteria" wants to see any proposed changes brought to a vote - at the very least, by school principals.
"We've grown up hearing about the Indiana high school tournament," said Ashby. "And the whole story of `Hoosiers' is inspirational beyond the realm of sports.
"We think everyone should have that shot," he added.
For more information on the Utah drive, contact Ashby at 966-6743. Plump's group is facing a June 15 deadline.
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