Knightstown — Nearly every Indiana high school basketball player has seen the movie Hoosiers, and dreams of having their own Hoosiers-like moment, hitting a big shot in a key moment of a game.
On Saturday at the Hoosier Reunion Classic, played on the home court of the fictional Hickory Huskers from the movie, Zionsville senior Isaiah Thompson had a Hoosier-esque moment of his own.
With his Hickory team losing by two in the final seconds, Thompson took a pass from Armaan Franklin, and coolly sunk a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds left to give his team a 114-113 win.
“Coming in I knew this was going to be a fun game playing with all this talent,” Thompson said. “Everybody played well, we got down near the end, but we were able to stay focused and kept playing hard. That’s what it’s all about, just having fun.”
Thompson is no stranger to All-Star events and had played in the Hoosier Gym once before, when Zionsville played a regular season game when he was a freshman.
But he said he loved having the opportunity to play in the gym again with some of the other top seniors in the state.
“I watched the movie so many times, it is one of my favorite movies,” Thompson said. “I was able to play in this gym my freshman year, so to come back to this gym my senior year in this all-star game, I was really excited when I got selected to this game. It was a good experience and I was happy to be a part of it.”
Thompson wasn’t the only Zionsville star to play in the game.
Classmate Nathan Childress played on the Terhune team Saturday.
“It was a great experience and an awesome time,” Childress said. “It was definitely a great opportunity. This is really the first all-star game that I have ever played in, and it was really cool.”
Like Thompson, Childress said he grew up watching the movie Hoosiers and was excited to get the chance to play in the game.
He wasn’t on the varsity roster his freshman year, so he watched the game from the stands. Three years later, he got his chance to play on the court.
“It was a really cool and nostalgic really,” Childress said. “This was my first playing on the court, and it was just an awesome experience.”
The game was back-and-forth throughout.
Childress scored seven-straight points for his team to put them up 62-59 early in the third quarter, but Hickory countered with an 11-2 run to take a nine-point lead and led by three after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, a Childress dunk tied the game at 98 with 5:45 to go and his team looked like they were going to win the game up 112-108 with 30 seconds to go.
But after a 3-pointer and a missed 1-and-1, it gave Thompson a chance to hit the game-winner.
With the rotations being different in an all-star game the two Zionsville players weren’t on the court at the same time very often on Saturday.
Childress said it was a little different playing against Thompson instead of with him.
“It was a fun,” Childress said. “I wish I would have gotten switched onto him a couple of times, just to go against each other a little more. But it was cool for sure.”
Being on different teams was also a little bit of a precursor for the future.
After originally signing with Bethel, Childress reopened his recruitment after the Bethel coach stepped down, and will now be a preferred walk-on at Indiana, while Thompson will be heading to West Lafayette to play at Purdue.
“I grew up an IU fan so it wasn’t a tough decision,” Childress said. “It was a great experience to have a walk on spot. My dad was in the Navy, so that helped with tuition and that helped my decision too.”
Thompson said that while they will be rivals in college, he is happy that Childress found a good fit for himself.
“He is a great player and I know he is going to do big things at IU,” Thompson said. “He actually texted me when he was considering IU, and I just told him it was a great fit for him. It is a great school and a great program. I told him that Purdue is definitely the top school in Indiana, but he will do great things at Indiana.”
Thompson will play in the Prep Ball Stars Midwest Challenge this weekend, and then play with the Indiana All-Stars against Kentucky in early June.
For Childress, this was the last time he will represent Zionsville in a prep setting.
He said he is proud of what he was able to do over the last four years, helping the Eagles win back-to-back sectional titles, and being a conference champion every year.
“I grew so much in my four years,” Childress said. “My sophomore year, I wasn’t even dressing varsity my first game to starting by the end. That just shows the hard work I put in, and everyone at Zionsville was great and I really enjoyed the four years.”
Nolan represents Zionsville in girls’ game
In the girls game, Zionsville’s Maddie Nolan helped Hickory to a 90-88 win over Terhune.
Nolan said the Hoosier Reunion Classic was a game she had been looking forward to play in, and even when at times it didn’t look like she would be able to, it all worked out in the end.
“With all the history in this gym, and getting a chance to play with a lot of the girls I play AAU with in the past, this was one of my favorite All-Star games,” Nolan said. “I had never been to this gym, but I knew they had a game here so I was hoping to be selected. When they called me, was really excited. I was a little nervous because of prom and usually the game is at night, but it all worked out.”
Much like the boys game, the girls game came down to the wire.
After building a 90-81 lead with just under three minutes to go, Nolan’s Hickory team saw Terhune go on a 7-0 run in the next 90 seconds to get within two and then had to survive a couple of attempts at the tie or win.
“It was super competitive today,” Nolan said. “With a lot of all-star games, there isn’t a lot of defense or people don’t try really hard. But I though both teams of being competitive, but having good sportsmanship knowing it’s an all-star game.”
Nolan will next be in action with the Indiana All-Stars.