On Friday against the number one ranked Riley Wildcats, the 1982-83 team was honored at halftime on its 35th anniversary.
The 82-83 Marian High School Basketball team completed a magical season with a record of 19 wins and only 2 losses. That record stood as the best in program history until the 2014-15 season.
In the winter of 1982, the team came out of the locker room and warmed up to the Blues Brothers-Peter Gunn theme song. Coach Mike Lightfoot took a team with a record of 11-10 in the previous year and earned victories in the first eight games. A tough loss to a Michigan City Marquette team that finished 19-4 did nothing to kill the momentum that was created in the first half of the season. In the very next game, the Knights hosted St. Joseph’s HS and started a second winning streak with a 68-63 victory.
After the victory over the rival Indians, the Marian boys rattled off 10 more wins to reach 11 straight which at that time was the longest winning streak in program history. During that run, the Knights defeated Riley HS at home in double overtime on a last second shot by Eric Mickels. Two games later, the Knights defeated a strong John Glenn team by 17 points! The highlight was defeating St. Joe a second time at St. Joe. To make the game more interesting, Coach Lightfoot had promised the players that if they won at St. Joe, he and his staff would run home! They kept their promise and arrived to find an empty Marian parking lot.
The program was able to accomplish so much due to the excellent team chemistry and the outstanding senior leadership. Their role in Marian sports history has encouraged and ignited other successful campaigns for all Knights.
Coach Lightfoot left Marian after nine memorable years following the 1986-87 season to take over at his alma mater, Bethel College. He ended up spending 30 years as the Coach of the Pilots guiding them to 18 conference championships and 7 national championships. He was also named Coach of the Year seven times during his career that ended with 794 wins–more than any college coach in the state of Indiana.
Please join me in congratulating this tremendous team, many of whom have returned to join us tonight: Coach Mike Lightfoot, Assistant Coach Steve Rethlake, Manager Mike Gruber, Jerome Calderone, Paul Moreland, John Solomon, Rick Bliha, Eric Mickels, Andy DeCocker, Jim Hart, Kurt Gassensmith, Kevin Sandor, Brian Welsch, Jamie Pardo, Joe Napieralski and the late Eric Stahl.