Throwback Thursday: Lipps helped lead Whiteland to 1993 sectional title

Long before position-less basketball was a thing, the 1992-93 Whiteland boys team was doing its thing.

Senior guard Tony Lipps was one of the primary reasons why.

“Tony wasn’t a loud kid, but he was a leader. He had that something,” said Kevin Smith, the Warriors’ coach for 10 seasons (1988-98). “Tony brought an understanding, and he really knew how to play.

“He knew how to get open, how to read screens, and that’s a basketball IQ thing.”

Four of Whiteland’s starters that season were advertised in game programs as standing 6-foot-2 or 6-3, Lipps included, for what remains one of the best squads in school history.

Lipps averaged 22.5 points a game that season, as did senior wing Ryan Glidden. Matt Ford and Jeremy Heiny completed the frontcourt, while 5-9 junior John Dicken ran the point. Mark Taylor, a 6-2 junior, was one of the first off the bench, as was junior guard David Edens.

Edens, who’ll soon start his third school year as athletic director at his alma mater, calls Lipps one of the best pure shooters he’s seen.

But as Lipps is quick to point out, he was surrounded by talented, confident teammates.

“Strangely, Ryan and I both averaged the same amount of points, but I think we had different skill sets,” said Lipps, who began attending Whiteland as a seventh-grader after previously being part of the Center Grove school system. I was the better shooter, and Ryan could run like a deer.

“That team, it wasn’t afraid of anybody.”

A year earlier, those in Whiteland’s program might have felt as though it was jinxed. In a loss at Avon early in the 1991-92 regular season, Lipps and two other Warriors starters suffered broken bones during a game played, appropriately enough, on Friday the 13th.

That season ended with a 62-55 loss to Center Grove in the championship game of the old one-class Franklin Sectional.

A year later, Greenwood played host, and Whiteland wasn’t to be denied.

The Warriors defeated Roncalli by 20 points in the first game, eked out a 74-72 overtime defeat of Franklin in the semifinal and beat the host Woodmen in the finale, 77-61.

It marked the first time a Whiteland team had cut down the nets in 26 years, and was the program’s fourth and final single-class sectional title.

A week later, Smith’s club slipped past Shelbyville in a semifinal at the Columbus North Regional, 69-67. Whiteland lost that night to the host Bull Dogs, 74-64, to put the lid on a 22-3 season.

The regular-season losses were to Franklin Central and Plainfield.

“They hit everything,” Lipps said of Columbus North. “I think they shot like 70% from the floor. It was their night.”

Lipps continued his playing career at Northwest College, a community college in Powell, Wyoming. He later transferred to Tennessee-Martin, but injuries prevented him from contributing to the Skyhawks.

Now a sergeant with the Indiana State Police, Lipps is a long way from his athletic heyday.Nonetheless, he continues to take pride in being part of a team that made the second-longest postseason run in the history of Whiteland boys hoops (the 1944 squad lost to Anderson in the semistate final).

“What I remember about our team is we thought we could beat anybody,” Lipps said. “We wanted to get to Hinkle (Fieldhouse) for semistate, so falling one game short was difficult.”