The Waveland Hornets had several outstanding basketball players through the years, seven of whom were named to the Montgomery County All-Time Team in 1971 . . . the Greve brothers--Ray, Bill and Keith, Charlie Arvin, Bill Wheeler and Don Evans . . . along with the most recent player at that time, Mike Mitchell, who graduated in 1968. Mike started out playing guard when he was a freshman, but then became their starting center his last three years . . . and subsequently continued the Hornet legacy of producing top scorers.
I played against Mike in 1966 when he was a sophomore, and I soon discovered that he had the "shooting touch." He had great concentration and floor presence, and established himself as a real threat by pouring in basket after basket. Mike also dominated the backboards as the team's leading rebounder, often passing to the speedy Phil Myers for easy fast break layups. When Mike was a youngster, his role models were Keith Greve, who graduated in 1951 and played for Butler, and Bill Greve, who graduated in 1955 and played for Purdue. He also looked up to Herschel Tague and Don Evans when he was in junior high. He stated that these four fellows were not only just good athletes, but were also good persons who did things the right way.
Mike practiced his shooting year round, and he chuckled when he told me that he used to leave the locker room window unlocked a few times so he could sneak into the gym after hours and practice shooting. He thought he had invented that little trick, but found out later on that Bill Greve and Charlie Arvin had done the same thing in years past. Well, practice paid off, as Mike finished second in the county scoring race in 1966 with an 18.5 average, upping that to 22.5 as a junior, and then winning the county title his senior year with a 27.8 scoring clip . . . over 1,500 points in his four-year career. In a game against Roachdale, Mike scored 51 points, canning 17 of 21 from the field and 17 of 21 from the free throw line. Phil Myers also scored 32 points in that game . . . the two of them combining for 83 points out of the team total of 87. And in another game, Mike likely set the free throw record by making all 24 of his free throw attempts!
In my interview with Mike, he was very hesitant to talk about his accomplishments. What he remembered most were the people he played with, and against, and the lasting friendships. He stated, "When we see each other today, we still talk about those great memories of playing together. I remember the Darlington, New Ross and Coal Creek teams as being really competitive. The sectionals were a big deal, too. You couldn't even get a ticket, and they had drawings for them. The hometown games were great, and everyone in town would come, dress up for the games, and eat dinner there, too. They all supported the team and knew all of the players. It was nice to be able to score those points for my team, but I always remembered that my buddies were the ones that passed me the ball . . . they deserve the same recognition."
Mike was not just a one-sport athlete. He also was a fine pitcher for the baseball team. He had great control and once threw a no-hitter . . . and he heaved the shot put for the track team. Mike was also a class officer, a member of the student council and an active member of 4-H. After high school, Mike went on to Purdue, graduating in 1972, and then pursued his life-long passion for farming, which he hopes to continue for many more years. He also mentioned that he was fortunate to be able to coach his two sons in baseball and basketball when they were growing up. Mike was elected to the Montgomery County and Southmont basketball Hall of Fame . . . a fitting tribute to one of the finest players to ever wear a Hornet uniform.

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history. He writes a general column that appears in The Paper on Fridays and a local sports column on Tuesdays.