Outside the Huddle is profiling which 10 area basketball gyms it feels are the best around as we spend some time this off-season looking at unique aspects of these facilities.
Each facility is rated on four factors – game night atmosphere, design, amenities and team success, as well as testimonials from the home team, the opposition and Bounce himself.
NOTE: While success does play a factor in these rankings, it certainly isn’t the biggest factor. That seemed to be a sticking point in the football field countdown from our readers.
No. 7 Kilmer Court
Location: Snider High School
First season: 1964
Named for: The Court is named after Lamar Kilmer, who led the girls basketball program for 21 seasons from 1980-2001. He was also a boys assistant coach from 1972-1980.
SCORE BREAKDOWN (1 – lowest; 5 – highest)
Game night atmosphere: 4
Some of the biggest and most raucous games in recent seasons have been played at Snider High School. The Panthers have as rabid of a fan base (both adults and students) as any Fort Wayne Community School and it shows in big games and moments.
There are some schools who have student sections that are big and boisterous when the team is winning, but Snider’s rarely wavers during boys games. They are there and they are loud, often playful. The gym has a great amount of space for sound to reverberate and Snider is often just loud – really a great mood setter on game night.
The 2016 boys basketball game between Snider and North Side, complete with a home team buzzer beater, may be the best atmosphere game in Fort Wayne over the past decade.
On first glance, you would say Snider is pretty basic compared to more uniquely designed schools. That is fair. The court though, is nice, very stark with great contrast inside the three-point arc and it makes the black lines on the court stand out more. A little detail to most, but the gradient outer skirt of the court added a few years ago plays well off the contrasting looks of the facility. Having the clear glass divider at the bottom of the upper level is nice, keeping the view from up top really clean. There isn’t a bad seat in the house at Kilmer Court.
The spacing of the gym makes this one we like a lot. It is quaint for a city school facility, but still quite roomy.
Being able to enter directly at the gym is something you can’t do some places, so it is certainly appreciated at Snider. Even better is that when you enter by the gym, you are able to walk through the illustrious history of Snider athletics with trophies, photos and shrines from many sports and athletes. Immediately, Snider hits you with their ability to play at a championship level.
The baselines are clear and provide ample space for media, cheerleaders and others without clutter. If you are a concession person, Snider can sometimes provide the best popcorn in the SAC; not too salty, not too buttery, but just right.
Team success: 4
The boys team has been at the top of the SAC the past few years and that success has fed significantly into the amazing atmosphere that game night can have at Kilmer Court. That success culminated with a sectional title this past season. The court has seen high-level athletes like Malik Williams (Univ. of Louisville) and current NFL player Jessie Bates III play hoops here. The boys team has won 7 sectionals since the gym opened and went to the 2009 state finals.
The girls haven’t had success in the last couple of years but they certainly have had a lot of success playing in this gym, even before it was rebranded as Kilmer Court. During Lamar Kilmer’s time as head coach, the girls team won 366 games and won eight sectionals, six regionals, three semistates and were state champions in 1988. Kilmer went on to be in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. The program has won 13 sectional titles total.
Snider boys basketball coach Jeremy Rauch: “This is by far the smallest home gym that I’ve been a coach of. Because of that, though, it can be the loudest. I was pleasantly surprised to see the gym when I got here, having remembered the way that it was when I coached there 2 years ago, my first at DeKalb.”
Carroll boys basketball coach Marty Beasley: “Locker rooms don’t have marker boards, therefore you have to use a classroom before game and at half time, making it difficult to keep your team together and other people out of our locker room.”
Snider is a special place in Fort Wayne Community Schools because it doesn’t feel like a carbon copy of its brethren. No knock on those other FWCS schools, they all have nuances that Bounce really likes, but something about Snider just feels different on game nights. Even if the game isn’t close or it’s a weeknight and not as well attended, this gym always feel vibrant and loud.
Coming Saturday: No. 6