Nappanee faces neighboring Wakarusa on the high school basketball court for the first time since 1966-67 when “Panther Hysteria” is staged Saturday, Nov. 30, at NorthWood High School.
At least that’s the way Panther coach Aaron Wolfe is billing a novel scrimmage that he has planned at The Pit.
In it, his players residing in Nappanee will be face off against his players residing in Wakarusa.
NorthWood High School came into being in 1969, a consolidation of Nappanee and Wakarusa.
Wolfe is right on in saying that 1966-67 is the last official time that the Bulldogs and Indians squared off on the court, as they did not meet over the final two seasons of each school’s existence while transitioning into consolidation.
It’s hard to say for sure, though, that a NorthWood coach has never before divided up his players based on their residences for a winter practice game, but Wolfe doesn’t know of any such pairing.
“And we wouldn’t have done it now if we thought it would be lopsided, but based on these teams, it’s got a chance to be a pretty good scrimmage,” Wolfe said earlier this week. “We’ve never been able to do that.”
The Nappanee team will include Zach Zurcher, Kyle McCoy, Braxton Linville, Travis Bear and Cam Simpson, among others.
The Wakarusa team will feature Jonathan Wilkinson, Will Stueve, Tanner Farmwald, Dakyrion Fox and Vincent Miranda, among others.
Normally, scrimmages pair first units against second units, or if the goal is to make them competitive, the sides are hand-chosen.
“Our players know they’re NorthWood, not Nappanee or Wakarusa, but we’ll see how this fares out,” said Wolfe, who’s entering in his seventh year as Panther head coach. “We’ll also split our student body.”
The format of the scrimmage will potentially add to the suspense. It will be a best-of-five quarters, “kind of like a five-game NBA playoff series,” Wolfe said, with the scoreboard reset to start each quarter.
Festivities begin at 5 p.m. with a “student body crunch time tourney.”
The scrimmage is slated for 7 p.m.
Admission is $1.
By the way, Nappanee won that 1966-67 last meeting 55-34, to take a 57-19 advantage in the all-time series.