The fact that there are two Poole brothers playing for a high school basketball state championship Saturday isn’t that unusual. Connersville brothers Mike and Chris Heineman led the Spartans to the 1983 title and North Central’s Terone and Ronnie Johnson won a Class 4A championship in 2010, among many examples.
The difference is that the Pooles — despite sleeping under the same roof — are competing for different schools, in what may be an unprecedented situation. Micah Poole is a junior guard at Crispus Attucks, which will play for its first state championship since 1959 when it meets Twin Lakes in the Class 3A game at 6 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
But before that, on Saturday morning, Micah will join his family in the bleachers to cheer on his younger brother Josiah Poole, a sophomore at Tindley, in its Class A title game against Lafayette Central Catholic.
“There’s a lot of great games and a lot of great players,” their mother, Nicole Poole, said this week. “By the grace of God, they are here.”
Both Poole brothers attended Tindley until Micah was about to enter high school. The magnet program at Attucks appealed to Micah, who — like his brother — is an A-student in the classroom. Josiah opted to stay at Tindley for high school, a decision the family said has worked out for both.
“I think it’s better that we don’t see each other every second of the day,” Josiah said.
Having two sons at different schools has made for some interesting nights for their parents, Mike and Nicole. After Attucks defeated Evansville Bosse on Saturday in Seymour, they booked it to Richmond in time to see the net-cutting celebration after Tindley’s Class A win over New Washington.
Josiah mostly plays on the junior varsity team at Tindley, so Mike and Nicole would often catch the Tindley JV game before rushing to the Attucks’ varsity game. Micah, a 6-3 guard, averages 4 points off the bench.
“This season it seemed like they had a lot of games on the same night,” Mike Poole said. “The distance from Tindley to Attucks is only about seven minutes. We’ve got that trip down. We were able to make it work and see as much as we could of both.”
Tindley played at Attucks in February, losing 89-86 in overtime. Nicole, a former Attucks cheerleader, said she “didn’t clap the whole game.” The family wore T-shirts that read “Schools Divided/Family United” on the front with the brothers’ numbers — Micah’s 21 and Josiah’s 10 — on the back with the Poole name.
“The week before the game, I told him we were going to get the ‘W’,’” Micah said. “We talk about it all the time. We both feel like we have really good players and really good talent.”
Micah felt so good about Attucks’ chance to be here this week that he turned down a school-sponsored trip to Mexico over spring break. He made his decision before the Tigers had even played a game in the regular season.
“I told my wife, ‘Are you serious you didn’t sign him up?’” Mike Poole said. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience. You have to be kidding me. But his response was that it’s state finals week. And here they are.”
Nicole attended Attucks through the school’s closing in 1986 before graduating from Tech. In the years she attended Attucks, the glory days of the program had long since passed (the Tigers were 4-16 in 1986) but she still recalls the pride in the school.
“To see that history come back to life at Attucks is awesome,” Nicole said. “In 1986, we had a losing record, but we still had school spirit. To come back now with a winning record and make it to state, that’s awesome.”
Josiah said he never considered following his brother to Attucks, though it was nothing against Micah.
“I liked the close-knit environment at Tindley,” Josiah said. “It’s like a family.”
The Pooles’ older brother, Austin Bonds, was the leading scorer at Tindley until Eric Hunter broke his record. Bonds was there at the beginning of Bob Wonnell’s tenure at Tindley, which played its first sectional game in 2008.
Bonds, who was an assistant at Marshall under Larry Nicks, only made it to about five games this year for each of his brothers. With Marshall returning to a middle school next year, Bonds said he’s thinking of taking a year off in coaching so he can follow them both.
“I’ve seen them grow up and trained them in basketball,” Bonds said. “They’ve battled it out and played one on one. They’ve come a long way. I’d like to be able to see both of them play more next year.”
The week before both teams played in the semistate, Mike Poole overheard his sons talking about how both teams were going to win state.
“I was glad to hear that,” he said. “Just overhearing that conversation between two brothers.”
The Poole family will be wearing special T-shirts again Saturday. They read “Tiger Nation” on the front in green and maroon with the school logos of Attucks and Tindley. No matter what happens Saturday — one win, two wins or zero — there will be plenty of reasons to celebrate.
“I’m ecstatic that they are both here,” Mike Poole said. “There are only eight teams left and they play on two of them. That’s something to remember.”
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.
Saturday’s state finals
Games will air live on Fox Sports Indiana
Class A: Lafayette Central Catholic (22-6) vs. Tindley (23-5), 10:30 a.m.
Class 2A: Frankton (22-6) vs. Crawford County (22-6), 12:45 p.m.
Class 3A: Twin Lakes (25-3) vs. Crispus Attucks (24-4), 6 p.m.
Class 4A: Fort Wayne North Side (27-2) vs. Ben Davis (22-5), 8:15 p.m.