Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 11, 2013

COLUMN: Fight'n Indians need YOU!

JHS boys open conference play at home tonight

Jay Neal
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE —

Most everyone is probably familiar with the red, white and blue Uncle Sam armed forces recruiting posters that proclaim “I want YOU for the U.S. Army” or similar slogans.

Despite their perfect 23-0 record and a No. 12 ranking in the current TABC/Texas Prep Basketball Class 4-A poll, the Jacksonville High School Fight'n Indian basketball team needs YOU!

Apparently an unblemished docket and a lofty state ranking are not enough to get 750 fannies into the bleachers at the Jacksonville Gymnasium for Indian home games.

Although the Tribe play in the smallest building in District 16-4A — the remainder of the venues, on average, hold just over 2,000 people — the Indians have yet to sell out a home game this season, and that, frankly, is a crying shame.

It may be decades before another Jacksonville High basketball team reaches the level that the 2012-13 edition have been playing at this season.

Several loyal Jacksonville basketball supporters that have followed Indian basketball for decades say that this year's team is the best Tribe hoops unit to come along since the (coach) John Alexander era of the 1980's — that's nearly thirty years ago.

Twenty three games, 17 of which were played on the road, and 23 wins, including tournament championships in Madisonville, Fairfield and Tatum, is nothing short of incredible.

To further illustrate the team's achievement, consider the fact that the Indians are the only squad in the Class 4A Top 25 that have not lost a single game this season.

The District 16-4A season opens up tonight (7:30 p.m.) with the Lindale Eagles scheduled to pay a visit to the Indians, and how nice it would be to reward the Tribesmen with a full house of 750 screaming Jacksonville faithful in the seats.

And it isn't just tonight that head coach Brent Kelley's guys need the fans in the house.

After this evening's game, there will be only four, that's right, just four, more opportunities to catch the Jacksonville boys at home — Jan. 22 vs. John Tyler, Feb. 1 vs. Corsicana, Feb. 5 vs. Nacogdoches and Feb. 8 when Whitehouse is schedule to stroll in.

On each one of those nights the gym should be full and should be full-throttle rocking.

What better way to let the players know how much their accomplishments this season are appreciated by Indian fans.

And for the nay sayers out there; the ones that believe regardless of how many people choose to turnout for the games, the final outcome will still be the same, we'll that's just not true.

“Our crowds have been good this year, but it would be nice for our kids to see our place full,” Kelley said. “Hopefully now that the girls and the boys will both be playing on the same night, everyone will decide to come out and support these kids. They have been working hard all year and they notice how many people are in the stands and for them to come out and see our place full would really mean a lot to them.”