Upon stepping into Indian Hills Middle School Tuesday afternoon, you could have been forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to a Friday night at SM East when the Rockhurst basketball team was on the court.
With the roar of the crowd and the sound of a pep band booming from the gym, the atmosphere certainly had all the trappings of a big high school rivalry.
But instead of two varsity squads going head to head, Tuesday saw the first-ever meeting of the newly formed Indian Hills and Indian Woods girls basketball teams. Donning uniforms bearing the names of their future high schools, the Indian Hills and Indian Woods students played before a raucous crowd.
Girls basketball is one of the organized middle school sports that launched this school year after the Shawnee Mission School Board approved the plan in March. Wrestling and cross country got under way soon into the fall semester. Boys basketball will begin after the winter break. Volleyball will begin in the spring.
Among the attendees at Tuesday’s contests (the girls B teams played at 4:30 followed by the A squads at 5:30. Indian Hills won both games), was SM East girls basketball coach Austin Klumpe, who said the reintroduction of sports at the middle school level was great not only for player skill development, but also for the development of good academic habits.
“It benefits study skills, and learning how to balance sports with academics, and teamwork skills,” he said.
Klumpe said he was impressed by the atmosphere as the Lancers and Raiders faced off.
“I think the anticipation of middle school sports brought a lot of great energy from the fans and also the players,” he said.