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. 2 Westview High School
Location: Westview High School
First season: 1990-1991
Named for: No name
SCORE BREAKDOWN (1 – lowest; 5 – highest)
Game night atmosphere: 5
Try finding a peak game night environment better than Westview. We will wait…
OK, now that you have failed, let’s talk about everything that makes game night special in Topeka. There is no view quite like pulling up to Westview and seeing a large portion of the parking lot lined with horses and buggies as the Amish community supports Westview in droves; it certainly is the biggest thing in town.
Have you ever had someone stand next to you and whistle as loud as they can in your ear? Dan Byler does that for EVERY SINGLE person at the beginning of every Westview boys basketball home game. The funny thing is, he certainly can’t be standing next to each of the thousands of people in attendance. It just sounds like he is right next to you. There may be few single moments at area high school basketball games more exhilerating than what the ‘Westview Whistler’ can produce.
And every other fan is behind Byler, loud and ready to make the environment chilling. The stomps, the claps from the Westview faithful and student section alike make in near deafening in the gym. It is like that nearly every night at Westview when basketball is being played; Tuesdays as loud as Fridays.
There are parts of the Westview gym that are not real extra, but still very unique. The massive set of bleachers that are across from the team benches, when bare, are just a massive set of wooden bleachers. There is no upper level on that side, just one continuous bleacher from floor to near ceiling. Once they are filled, often with hometown Westview fans, it creates this massive sea of humanity that is just unrivaled anywhere around the area. The bleacher side has a true staired two level layout and there is something endearing about a court where the team seating is on the front row of the bleachers and not in comfy chairs.
One thing that people will point out first about the Westview gym is the massive scoreboard hanging over center court. It is an impressive sight and immediately takes you out of any mainframe that you are at a 2A size school The scoreboard is impressive in its simplicity and is a shining beacon of the Westview basketball programs. Like No. 3 Carroll, it too showcases the individual scoring on two sides as well.
Westview also, like most schools in the area, have a display on the far wall celebrating all of the teams of their conference. But Westview has big, throwback imagery with old logos and colors that adds to the gym’s old school appeal.
Perhaps the biggest amenity that Westview’s gym has is as a practice facility, as crazy as that sounds. There are 18, yes 18, basketball hoops hanging from the ceiling. It is as impressive when they are all up on game night as it is when they are all down. That alone gives off the clear viewpoint that Westview is dedicated to their hoops.
Team success: 4
The boys program are defending NECC co-champions and have 20 Sectional titles with 14 of those coming since they took the court in their current gym to start the 90s. Every year, they are a force in the NECC and their Sectional. Although they will change to a new coach next season, what former coach Rob Yoder continued to build made Westview a dynasty and they advanced to the state finals in 2014 for the first time since Troy Neely coached the Warriors to back to back Class 2A titles in 1999 and 2000. Westview boys have three straight 20-plus win seasons and haven’t had a losing record since 2015, one of just five below .500 marks in the past 26 seasons.
While the girls side may not get as much credit as the boys side in the success area, there have been a lot of really good Westview girls teams and players so it probably isn’t fair they don’t get comparable attention. They have won 10 Sectional titles including four straight from 2013-2016. Coach Randy Yoder is 12th among active coaches in the state in wins with 353 over 26 seasons, all with the Warriors.
Westview girls basketball coach Randy Yoder: “I guess I have been there for so many years, I take it for granted. Realistically, it is a pretty unique special place. I had an opposing coach come in, the first time he had seen it and he said ‘you ought to lead the conference in free throw shooting every season, you have 18 baskets in here.’ That got his attention. The scoreboard is pretty cool too, that just added a flavor when Rob Yoder put that in. It is a little compact gym but that gives it a big school flavor.
The noise factor. It is compact and if you get a capacity crowd, the noise…you just have to experience it sitting there on the sidelines. There are certainly players that coaches say have that certain ‘it’ factor that it is hard to put your finger on; when you walk into that gym, it has that certain it factor, it is hard to put your finger on what it is, but it is that rural setting, Hoosier Hysteria, the smell of the popcorn, it just had that unique flavor. It is pretty special.”
Westview boys basketball coach Ed Bentley (former Angola head coach): “Over the past 8 years, we’ve had the opportunity to compete at Westview’s gym many times; what an experience for ALL involved. From the moment you arrive in the parking lot and see the mixture of cars and horse and buggies, to walking through the hallways which displays the rich Westview history, to walking in to the packed Westview Gym, it’s absolutely the best of Indiana Basketball. The dropdown scoreboard and the unbelievable student section adds to it all. Truly a history rich environment that everyone should experience!”
Churubusco boys basketball coach Chris Paul: “Playing at Westview is like no other. One of my favorite places to go and compete in. A true basketball environment, where the gym is always full. With the crowd involvement, it can be very intimidating the first time you play there.”
Westview is a throwback. There is no other way to describe it. It is exactly how Indiana high school basketball used to be and the reason why the state is lauded for its prep hoops. The pre-tip off moments at Westview are so exciting and certainly give you goosebumps. This may be one time where Bounce is lost for words. The place is solid, the game night (most of the time, more often than not on the boys side) is a masterpiece.
Coming Thursday: No. 1