‘Hickory meets Mayberry’: Basketball-crazed Morristown rallies in support of semistate-bound Yellow Jackets

MORRISTOWN, Ind. - All of Morristown can easily fit inside the Yellow Jackets' home gym, and on most game nights, that's exactly what you'll see.

“I still think Hoosier hysteria is still very much alive,” Morristown head coach Scott McClelland said. “Especially in smaller towns, it’s still a very big deal, it’s important to people. It’s a place for people to congregate and meet and support the local team.”

Morristown knocked off last year's state champs from Tindley to capture their first regional title in 20 years, and this weekend's  1A semi-state game against Barr-Reeve dominates conversation in the basketball-crazed community.

“Everywhere I’m going now everyone wants to stop and talk to me about the season we’re having, so it’s just fun,” Morristown senior guard Hayden Langkabel said.

As you approach Morristown High School, the show of support is evident. Light posts bear the name of each player on the basketball team, and in a town of about 1,300, they’ll boast nearly 2,000 fans for Saturday’s semi-state game in Seymour.

“I joke that it’s a combination of Hickory and Mayberry,” McClelland said with a chuckle. “I mean that with all due respect, it’s a huge compliment because it still is important and it is the center of a community.”

Just steps from the Jackets' gym is the Langkabel family’s restaurant, The Kopper Kettle.

Hayden’s name and number proudly displayed out front, but you won't find the Marion University commit bussing tables inside because if there's one thing in Morristown bigger than family business, it's basketball.

“I don’t work there unless it’s the holidays, I told my dad if I can get a scholarship I don’t have to work,” Langkabel, who scored a career-high 46 in the regional, said with a laugh.

For the players, there's one way to show the community how much their support means, and that's with the first state title appearance in Morristown history.

“After so many fans came to watch us, we want to give something back to them. So, I think it would be fun to do something special,” Langkabel added.

Morristown will face Barr-Reeve at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the 1A Seymour Semistate.

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