One Small Town, One Crazy CoachOne Small Town, One Crazy Coach

In the summer of 1962, peripatetic and irrepressible Pete Gill was hired on a whim to coach basketball at tiny Ireland High School.  There he would accomplish, against enormous odds, one of the great small town feats in Indiana basketball history.  With no prospective starter taller than 5-10 on the team, few people predicted more than five wins for the Spuds of 1962-63.

Yet, after inflicting brutal pre-season conditioning, employing a variety of crazy motivational tactics, and overcoming fierce opposition, Gill molded the Spuds into a winning unit that brought home the town’s first and only Sectional title in an unforgettable, tense 20-19 championship victory over Springs Valley.  Then, incredibly, they captured the Regional title with a buzzer-beating basket to defeat Washington, 39-37.

Matched against the Goliaths of defending State Champion Evansville Bosse in the Semi-State, the diminutive Spuds trailed only 17-16 at half time, before succumbing at last.  Relying up on narrative strategies of creative non-fiction rather than strict historical rendering, the book goes deep inside a colorful and varied cast of characters to provide a compelling account of their inner struggles and wide-ranging emotions throughout the season, in the process vividly capturing small town life during a period in Hoosier history now gone forever.

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