1954 IHSAA State Championship Milan vs Muncie Central
(3-26-18) – In 1954 tiny Milan pulled off one of the all-time great basketball feats winning the Indiana High School Boys Basketball Championship. The story of the ‘Milan Miracle’ and Bobby Plump’s game winning shot will long be remembered in the Hoosier state. In 1986 the movie ‘Hoosiers’ was filmed and it has become one of the greatest sports movies ever made, thanks to Milan and Plump’s game winning shot.
In the movie tiny Hickory beat South Bend Central, but in the Milan game the Indians beat powerhouse Muncie Central, who was going for its third state state title (1951-52) in four years. Everyone knows about the Milan side of the story and about the Hickory Huskers, but the losing team in a classic game always gets overlooked. Interesting to note that the Bearcats did beat South Bend Central during the 1954 regular season 74-57.
The Bearcats of Muncie Central were on a mission that season, in their first two sectional wins (Cowan and Daleville) they scored 89 and 94 points. In the first Semi Final game they got a little revenge from the regular season beating Ft. Wayne North Side 62-48, who beat them in late November 53-43.
Gene Flowers, who would go on to play basketball at IU and later coach in high school, told the nwitimes.com his thoughts after seeing that their opponent would be Milan in the final game:
We said, ‘Now we’ll (the school) have four (state championship) rings. We figured we’d run on Milan. Boy, were we surprised.”
Flowers (who scored a team-high 11 points) and his teammates would be held to their lowest scoring output for the season scoring just 30 points in the loss.
From the Indianapolis Star story below-
Plump dribbled up over mid-court pulled the ball up against his stomach, and stood still. Muncie waited and if you think you gotta have motion to generate excitement, you should have been there.
Plump held the ball amidst more noise than you’ll hear in the wildest fast breaking game, for four minutes and 14 seconds and then called time.
In the same article Flowers told the nwitimes com:
“Yes, they slowed the ball on us and we were a running team. I guess at the time, you never think that 30-some years later it would be a movie.”
The resume of the Bearcats makes the ‘Milan Miracle’ and even that more impressive. Over the years Milan and Muncie Central have played several games to celebrate that championship game.
Basketball fans will always remember Milan and Hickory, but Muncie Central will always be the team that lost to Milan.