Initially published for Associated Press newspapers of March 21, 1954, this is Ron Gilbert’s account of the 1954 Indiana state high school basketball championship game, also known as “the Milan Miracle.” IndyStar columnist Gregg Doyel wrote about Gilbert, who is now 103 years old.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — They said it couldn’t be done in modern basketball, but Milan’s icy-blooded Indians did it Saturday night. Their victory was a dream come true, a thrill shared by 500 other crossroads communities in Indiana.
It hadn’t happened for 39 years. Wingate and Thorntown won three of the first five state tourneys, and then the big schools took over.
Coach Marvin Wood took the boys out of the country and the country out of the boys, and they took the big town apart.
Things won’t get back to normal in Milan for some time, though — maybe never. Wood told his jubilant champions in the dressing room, “The cows back home can milk themselves for awhile now.”
“It’s wonderful,” Wood gasped. “I never had so much fun in my life.”
It was hard to believe. There were thousands of fans in the Butler Fieldhouse who had just seen it and were having trouble believing it.
Guard Bobby Plump, who won the game as well as the Trester award for mental attitude, confessed he was praying as he fired the big shot with two seconds to play.
“Devout as I could,” he gasped. Piety never paid off any better.
The Muncie dressing room was pretty much dry-eyed, but the choke was there.
“We lost playing it to the hilt,” Coach Jay McCreary said. “I wouldn’t change a thing — except maybe the final score.”