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Basketball. It’s a pretty big deal in our fair state. Around here, we like to say that in 49 states, it’s just basketball. But this is Indiana! Our passion for the hardwood goes back for generations. It’s a tradition that runs deep. So much so, James Naismith, the inventor of this beloved game, once said this about our infatuation with basketball:
“Basketball really had its origin in Indiana, which remains the center of the sport.”
Not only do we take our basketball seriously, but we also take our high school basketball team names pretty seriously, too. Sure, there are teams like the Trojans, Wildcats, Tigers, and Irish. Those are to be expected. There’s also the historic team names like the Bedford North Lawrence Stars and the Milan Indians. But if we’re honest, these names are rather unremarkable. And you probably find these names in every other state.
I know other high schools in other states have some pretty unique names (like the Science Hill Hilltoppers in Johnson City, TN, and the Daniel Boone Trailblazers in Gray, TN), but these high school team names in Indiana just might take the cake. If you could choose a winner based on team name alone, these teams would probably dominate the hardcourt. You might even call them the Sweet Sixteen.
Here they are in no particular order (except maybe number one):
16. Castle Knights (Newburgh)
No, the school building doesn’t have a moat with a drawbridge. But that would be pretty cool. The school’s full name is John H. Castle High School. But it’s better known as merely “Castle.”
With a school name like that, the only fitting team name would be the Knights. Huzzah, Castle. Huzzah, indeed.
15. Logansport Berries
OK. It might not be very intimidating. And nobody really knows exactly how they became known as the Berries. And Felix the Cat is their mascot. And I’m not sure what that has to do with berries.
But that’s OK.
I think this team name sounds like berries all the same.
14. Wayne Generals (Ft. Wayne)
When your high school is named after Mad Anthony Wayne, your team name had better be called the Generals, much like the Pioneers had better play for Boonville High School.
The only other acceptable name would be the Mad Ants. But that name is taken.
13. Jimtown Jimmies (Elkhart)
The city of Elkhart “functions as a vital link in the chain connecting the Atlantic Seaboard with the Midwest and beyond.” So it makes sense that a school in Elkhart would recognize their community’s railroad connection. That’s what Jimtown has done.
According to the school administration, “A Jimmie is a railroad person, someone who works on the railroad.” A Jimmie is a hard worker, a leader, is dependable, and confronts life’s challenges courageously.
12. Frankfort Hot Dogs
A weiner dog as your mascot?
11. Speedway Sparkplugs
Located in the shadow of world-famous yard of bricks, it only makes sense for Speedway High School to have a team name that reflects the town’s automotive history. Enter the Sparkplugs of Speedway High School.
10. Plymouth Pilgrims
If you’re from a town called Plymouth, you’ve gotta name yourselves the Pilgrims, right? Concord’s Minutemen follow a similar theme. I wonder if the Pilgrims play at The Rock. Or maybe the Mayflower? I could see a potential tie-in with a certain moving company.
9. Westfield Shamrocks
8. Martinsville Artesians
So the high school team that produced John Wooden is named after the surrounding mineral springs? And their logo is a well.
I’m not sure how inspiring or intimidating that is. But it’ll keep you hydrated.
7. Mishawaka Cavemen
What on earth would lead a team to call themselves the Cavemen? I mean, most people don’t use that term as a compliment.
Apparently, the name has its roots to a century ago when the Mishawaka Maroons were losing a game to a nearby rival. During halftime, the coach announced to the team that they were going to “fight like cavemen” and the name wound up sticking. The South Bend Tribune has a nice little writeup about the history of the Mishawaka Cavemen name if you’re interested.
6. Plainfield Quakers
The town of Plainfield has a strong, historic connection with the Society of Friends – also known as Quakers.
5. Tell City Marksmen
Tell City is named after William Tell, the legendary Swiss hero. You know, the guy who shot the apple on his son’s head. Or something like that. It’s only fitting that the high school team in a town named after him be called the Marksmen. Right?
Now, if only they used the William Tell Overture as their fight song. Of course, a university that’s not too far away plays that very song in the second half of basketball games.
So maybe it’s best that they don’t try to compete with the greatest timeout in college basketball.
4. Washington Hatchets
And it isn’t uncommon for Washington’s basketball teams to cut through their opponents like Washington cut that cherry tree.
3. Lincoln Alices (Vincennes)
Our high school played the Alices a couple of times while I was in school. I wanted to call them the “A-leese-es.” Because they couldn’t possibly be named after Alice. Who on earth is Alice? It surely had to be “Aleeses.”
I was wrong.
It’s a person’s name.
According to Lincoln High School’s website, there are two theories about the mascot’s origin. In 1900, a best-selling book was published called Alice of Old Vincennes. It was a story about a lady in Vincennes during the Revolutionary War. Her name was Alice.
The other theory is that it comes from Vincennes Lincoln’s miraculous run to the State Championship in 1923. It was an unbelievable performance – much like the fantasy story of Alice in Wonderland.
I kind of dig that.
2. Andrean Fighting ’59ers
Located at 5959 Broadway in Merrilville, Indiana, and founded in 1959, it is altogether fitting that they call themselves the ’59ers.
1. William Henry Harrison Warriors (Evansville)
When William Henry Harrison High School first opened its doors in 1962, they asked the student body to choose a team name and mascot. Since William Henry Harrison gained national fame because of the Battle of Tippecanoe, the students decided to honor that connection.
They could’ve done the same thing that Ft. Wayne did. They could’ve called themselves the Generals. Or the Presidents. Or the Guys Who Talked So Long In In The Rain During Their Inauguration That They Wound Up With Pneumonia And Died Shortly After Taking Office.
But they didn’t.
They chose the Warriors. I never really understood why. It makes about as much sense as calling your team the Rebels when you’re less than two hours away from Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace.
Do I think the student body was misguided? Sure. Does that make me love my Harrison Warriors any less? Absolutely not.
“We are the Warriors and the Warriors are GREAT!”
Hail! To the Warriors!
(here’s the the tune if you want to sing along)
To the Warriors valiant!
To the conquering heroes!
Hail! Hail! to Harrison the Red, Black, and White
Rise up and shout for victory!
March on with banners waving!
Hail! Hail! To Harrison!
We charge with all our might!