Blackford City basketball team pushes on despite 0-24 record

Enrollment at Blackford High School fell from 1,200 in 1970 to 532 in 2015.
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Life can sometimes be a cruel teacher whether you are looking for a job or looking for a win. A lot of people in Hartford City, Indiana are looking for both - but no one is using that as an excuse to quit.

Hartford City is going through some rough times. The recession has taken its toll here. Nowhere is that more evident that Blackford High School, where enrollment has dipped from nearly 1,200 in 1970 to 532 in 2015.

The rough times have also hit the Blackford Bruin basketball team.

"We are 0-23 right now. When you go through a season like that it teaches you about life," first-year Head Basketball Coach Troy Burkhart said while we talked on the high school gymnasium.

The Bruins were competitive in some games and were crushed in others, scoring only 11 and 8 points in two of their games.

"We have been so supportive of one another. No one has given up on anyone. As trying as this year has been everybody who was here at the beginning of the year is here now. Everybody stuck it out," Joel Sharp, a six-foot junior point guard for the team, pointed out.

"I want to see the whole town behind them," Dendi Wither noted.

That is why she put a sign of support out front of the Stardust Salon in Hartford City.

"Our county is having a rough time right now. Jobs leaving and that kind of stuff. People losing their homes. What doesn't hurt to get behind the school. Encourage the kids. Let them know we are here no matter what happens. Win or lose, we are still going to be there," Wither said.

"It has surprised me a little bit, honestly. Our community is great here. They are so supportive no matter what happens in any of the games. They just keep coming back and supporting us," Joel Sharp added.

It makes sense if you think about it. The kids have already learned a valuable lesson. Their parents won't quit, so why should they?

"We are more than just a team. We are like a family together. We work together and play together. No one has quit no matter how bad it's been. We play every night like it's the start of the season every game," said Jacob Tobey, a 6'3" senior forward.

"There are a lot of teams not even close to that record who would have said let's move on to the next sport? I haven't seen one kid say, 'I am ready to start my spring sport now.' So that is impressive," Tony Uggen, the school's athletic director, observed.

The Bruins lost to Yorktown 69-20 Friday night, meaning they will be the first team in school history to go the entire season without a victory. Still, Hartford City is still behind them.