Vevay Sectional of 1956 remembered 50 years later


It was 50 years ago, but for the people who participated in the 1956 Vevay Sectional played at what is now known as the “Old Gym” — it seems like only yesterday.

The Vevay High School Warriors won the nine-team sectional that year, defeating Lawrenceburg in the final. Other teams participating in 1956 included: Patriot, Rising Sun, Dillsboro, Aurora, Bright, Moores Hill, and Guilford.

Most of those schools have been swallowed up in consolidation, but last Friday night between the junior varsity and varsity games featuring Switzerland County and South Ripley — those schools came back to life.

Organized by local resident Wayne Daugherty — who was a member of the 1956 Aurora Red Devil team, the ceremony honored the 50th anniversary of the final sectional, and the players who participated in it.

Participants were given a tour of the Old Gym prior to the beginning of the junior varsity game, and many of the players said that the gym hadn’t changed much during the time that has passed.

“Looks about the same,” John Collier said as he glanced around the gym. He was the coach of the Vevay Warriors that year, and after a shaky start to the season, he recalled how the team came together to win the sectional.

“I had already told the superintendent that this was going to be my last year,” John Collier told those assembled Friday night. “I told the team that we were coming together and playing good basketball, and that there was no reason why we couldn’t win the tournament — so we did.”

Noel Houze was the center on that Vevay team. As he toured the Old Gym, he exchanged memories with former teammates of not only the Sectional, but of all of the games that the Warriors had played there.

“We sort of had an advantage when other teams came in here, because of the wall surrounding the court,” he said.

The current Old Gym floor celebrates the Switzerland County Pacers, but in homage to tradition, one side of the floor carries the old Vevay Warrior emblem; while the other side sports the Patriot Trojan logo. The traditional “V” has been placed back in the center circle.

For former Aurora High School coach Harold Hickman, going back to the Old Gym held double meaning.

He had coached the Red Devils in that 1956 Sectional Tournament; but he also disclosed another piece of history.

He had played in the first game that had ever been held in the Old Gym.

The father of local attorney David Hickman, and the grandfather of current senior Pacer Ben Hickman; Harold Hickman thought about the significance and laughed.

“I played in the first game ever played here,” he mused. “If I had been a better player, I’d have been on the varsity and played in the second game ever played here.”

Following the tour of the Old Gym, the players and other participants returned to the current high school gym to participate in the actual ceremony.

Each of the nine schools was honored with a banner featuring their mascot and school colors, and as current athletic director Kent Dunning gave a game-by-game account of that 1956 Sectional, members of the Switzerland County High School cheerleading squad brought out the banners signifying each game match up.

As teams lost in the tournament, that banner was returned to the sideline, until only the Vevay banner and the Lawrenceburg banner remained. When Kent Dunning announced the final victory for Vevay High School, cheerleading captains Melissa Kinne and Brittany Mukadam held the Vevay banner high above their heads as the crowd rose and applauded the achievement.

People associated with the sectional stood along the baseline as the game summary was played out, and were then introduced to the crowd.

“The basketball that was played at that period of history was unique,” Wayne Daugherty said. “It was the heyday of basketball. The game was never better or more popular than it was back then. It’s fitting that the history of the Vevay tournament and the teams that played in it be remembered.”

The banners for each of the schools will now be placed in the Old Gym so that future generations will be able to remember the past while striving toward the future.


Among those attending Friday night’s ceremony included Gary and Pat (Beach) Kinnett and Ben and Linda Walker from Rising Sun High School; Patriot Trojan players Paul Griffin, Clarence Hunt, Gene Hunefeld, and Danny Bolden; Aurora player Wayne Daugherty and coach Harold Hickman; and Vevay Warriors coach John Collier, Lloyd Christman, Paul Keith, Noel Houze, and Jim Leap.

Judy Sullivan and son Stan Sullivan represented the late Bob Sullivan at the ceremony; and Malcolm Markland represented his late dad Denny Markland. Pete Furnish was on hand to represent his late brother Eddie Furnish of Vevay High School’ and Judy Sullivan also represented her late brother, Harold Neal, who was also a member of the Vevay team.