Milan honored

MATTHEW VANTRYON | Asst. Sports Editor

The original “Hoosiers” that catapulted Hinkle Fieldhouse into stardom were honored during the Butler men’s basketball game Sunday.

Sixty years later, the memories of the 1954 high school boys basketball state championship at Hinkle Fieldhouse are still fresh for Ray Craft and Rollin Cutter. For Craft and Cutter, the hardwood-turned-Hollywood moment was just the beginning of their love affair with Butler.

Craft, who led the Milan Indians in scoring as they shocked the state with a win in the state championship game over Muncie Central, attended Butler University the following year. He said he had no knowledge of Indianapolis, let alone the fieldhouse, before his team made it to back-to-back state championships in 1953-1954.

But his head coach was more than familiar with the venue.

“We knew it was a special place because (head coach Marvin Wood) played here,” Craft said.

Now, Craft hails Hinkle as one of the premiere venues in the world.

“You’ve got bigger and nicer arenas, but in Indiana, this is the arena for basketball,” Craft said. “I think it’s the greatest fieldhouse in the world. It brings back lots of memories.”

Craft returns to Hinkle frequently, having been a member of the Indiana High School Athletic Association. Hinkle was the venue for the Indiana state championship for many years, and Craft also returned as a coach.

Cutter, a sophomore on the championship team, has enjoyed a life-long connection with Butler. Cutter graduated from Butler with a teaching degree. His son also attended the university, and Cutter now has season tickets to the men’s basketball games.

Cutter said the legacy of Milan lives on to this day.

“I always run into somebody that remembers Milan,” Cutter reminisced.

He said he couldn’t imagine the legacy would still be going strong more than a half-century later.

“I could not even imagine (the legacy). At the time, we didn’t know what we had accomplished,” Cutter said.

“Every year at this time of year, there rarely goes by a year that someone isn’t compared to Milan. Even with the class system, there are still Milans out there.”