INDIANAPOLIS – They’re wearing pink shoes. The Warren Central girls basketball team hopes you ask why, but they’ll keep wearing them whether you do or not. For one thing the pink shoes raise awareness for breast cancer, and under athletic director Marques Clayton the Warriors athletic department has made community service a priority.
For another thing? The shoes are working.
Look, it’s weird. You know it, I know it. But listen to the Warriors’ side: On Jan. 26 they were 12-7, unranked and going nowhere. That night they played North Central, an 18-5 team the Warriors hadn’t beaten in years. Warren Central broke out the pink shoes to continue a wonderful story that started in 2009 – more on that in a minute – and broke through with a 52-43 upset of North Central.
The shoes stayed.
And this happened: Warren Central reeled off eight straight wins, culminating Saturday night with a 50-46 victory against Zionsville in the IHSAA Class 4A title game.
“We weren’t going to change shoes!” Warren Central junior guard Shaila Beeler was telling me after the game, which she dominated with 21 points, getting to the foul line 16 times – she made 12 – by breaking down a Zionsville defense that might have had the schemes but definitely lacked the quickness to contain her. “That’s not the only reason we wore them, but come on! We weren’t going to change the shoes! We were winning.”
Beeler is laughing and smiling, because this story is good on every level. For one, her family was in the crowd. Shawn and Sheila Beeler were watching from the second row as their daughter showed why she is the No. 27-ranked prospect in the national class of 2019, according to ESPN.com. Down the row from Shawn Beeler was his mother, who survived breast cancer years ago. For the Beeler family, the pink shoes aren’t just a superstition that contributed to a state championship. They are a reminder of a bigger victory.