NEW CASTLE, Ind. – They’ve all been witnesses to New Castle basketball tradition.
“I grew up here, sat in section K my whole life,” head coach Daniel Cox said, pointing across the storied field house.
“Sitting there with my buddies, it was down there on that end, just to the right of the goal,” junior forward Mason Gillis said, motioning toward the opposite end of the court.
“When I was a little boy, I grew up watching Zach Hahn and Chase Stigall,” junior guard Luke Bumbalough recalled fondly.
From Steve Alford to Kent Benson to that 2006 state title team that included Stigall and Hahn, now this Trojan team is looking to make history of their own.
“This is a year we’ve kind of had our eyes set on,” Cox, who in his fifth season at the helm of the New Castle program, said. “We saw it coming, as far as the talent and the chemistry that they had.”
Surrounded by bleachers that encompass Indiana basketball history, practicing daily in the world’s largest high school field house can sometimes be taken for granted.
“It’s hard not to,” Gillis admitted, “growing up in it and playing in it now, this is my home court, it’s what I’m used to, I don’t know any different.”
But after enduring struggling seasons, leading his alma mater to a top 3A ranking and 20-2 record is something Coach Cox does not take for granted.
“A few years back, I think we lost nine straight games and one thing you never forget is where you came from,” Cox said.
For this Trojans squad, winning the school’s first sectional title since 2008 and cutting down the nets at the New Castle Field House would be the first step in restoring this program’s state prominence.
“We haven’t done it in the past two years and we’ve gotten beaten in the sectional championship both times and it would just be awesome for the city and the town,” Bumbalough said.
New Castle will host Hamilton Heights (11-10) in the first round of sectional play.