Growing up in the greatest high school basketball state in America, I knew the lore of what it meant to be a legend in a small town and how much it meant to community members to see these people years later and what they are doing with their lives.
I grew up in a town where basketball was more than a sport, it was a way of life. I can remember going to games and having the “old timers” talk about legends of the past and local lore in the glory days of Indiana high school basketball. My all time favorite story is how my high school beat the Crispus Attucks squad from Indianapolis in the 1954-1955 season. It was their only loss in two years. Attucks star, and future basketball Hall of Fame player Oscar Robertson still remembers the game and the terrible court conditions that effected the outcome.
Stories like these are often lost in history. Local lore goes by the wayside as more consolidation happens and fewer people remember tournament runs and great players of old.
This year’s Fayetteville Lady Rockets will be one of those teams that will forever mystify fans and make those girls legends in the eyes of that community.
I stood in the Tippecanoe gymnasium on Saturday night and watched an entire village cheer on their hometown team with everything they had. Small ball in rural areas helps keep the stories alive and bring communities together. I joked with other reporters about committing crimes in Fayetteville would be easy on Saturday since everyone was in Tipp City. Never once did I see the crowd lose faith in their Lady Rockets. It was a special moment when the final buzzer rang, though disappointed the crowd stayed faithful to their Rockets.
During the trophy presentation, not a single Fayetteville fan remained seated. They all stood, cheered, and rallied with the girls who had worked so hard to be where they were on that very night. Few teams live up to expectations given to them. Most crack and fall by the wayside, but not these girls. Even when faced with adversity and strong competition they never let up. Coach Toby Sheets called this team the best he has ever coached and for good reason.
These girls will be remembered as larger than life in Fayetteville for the rest of their lives. All other teams in Fayetteville that may be good or have similar talent will always be compared to this year’s squad. Names like Rosselot and Eyre will be used to compare players to how well they are playing or how good they actually are. MaKayla Rosselot is one of the best scorers I have ever had the joy to watch play basketball. She is a once in a lifetime type of scorer for a coach. I understand why Coach Sheets enjoyed having her around. She scored more than 2,000 points in four years. She scored nearly 650 points this season alone. From now until eternity all great scorers will be compared to her and how well she played these past four years.
Then their is Megan Eyre. Eyre was the best all around player on the Rocket squad. She could do it all. She was a vocal leader and could take over the game whenever she wanted. She may not have had the offensive output of Rosselot, but that was because she didn’t have to. She still earned a spot in the 1,000 point club for the Rockets, but it was her defensive efforts that made her stand out as a player.
When the dust has settled on the end of this season, the view of fans will be these two girls were some of the best to ever play. Not just at Fayetteville but in the whole county. I am sure we all remember Babe Ruth in the movie The Sandlot coming out of the closet to tell Benny that legends never die. Right now, they might not think they are neither heroes nor legends, but time has a way putting fond memories in the hearts of fans everywhere.
Just like the movie Hoosiers has a fond place in the hearts of basketball fans everywhere, the Lady Rockets will have a spot in the hearts of an entire village forever. Basketball brought an entire village together and all problems were put aside to watch something great.
That is the power of sports in small towns.
Brian Durham is the sports editor.