There Tony Etchison was, this lanky freshman standing on the free throw line, with his dark hair and serious eyes and those scrawny legs.
“He was just a skinny little kid, really,” said Dave Nicholson.
The former Noblesville High coach cannot get that image out of his mind, of Etchison on that free throw line. It keeps flashing back, bringing him to tears.
Noblesville was playing on the road against Muncie South, a big conference game. In 25 years of coaching, Nicholson had only two guys who played all four years on varsity. Etchison was one of them.
As he stood on the line, a first year player, Etchison sank his tenth consecutive free throw.
“I knew then,” Nicholson said. “He was going to be a special player.”
Etchison, who led Noblesville High to three sectional titles and was a Silver Anniversary member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame alongside Glenn Robinson and Alan Henderson, died Wednesday evening in a farming accident.
Etchison, 47, was working in a soybean field on his family farm in Arcadia about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s report.
When another farmer slowed down his combine to turn a corner, Etchison tried to climb up on the vehicle but missed his step and fell. Etchison was run over by the combine and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.
Word quickly spread throughout Hamilton County. Friends and family rushed to be with Etchison’s wife, Toby, his high school sweetheart, and their three boys.
“I don’t know how to describe an incredible human being,” said Jody Roudebush, a lifelong friend of Etchison, “but I know the first name is probably Tony.”
‘This one really, really hurts’
He was known by all who loved him simply as Etch, a dear friend who would do anything for anyone, said Roudebush.
Roudebush grew up with Etchison. His fondest memories are those days and nights spent with their big group of friends — who are still close today — at Etchison’s parents’ farm in Arcadia. They played basketball and football, threw Frisbees and, sometimes, just hung out enjoying his mom’s cooking.
“She spoiled us with the most delicious food all the time,” Roudebush said of Etchison’s mom. “I can still taste the sweet butterhorns and fried corn she made us all those years.”