When Basketball Is in the Blood
Brett Etherington and His Family Share a Love of the Game
When you play basketball, the wins stick with you but so do the losses. As strange as it sounds, sometimes those losses produce just as many fond memories. Such is the case for Brett Etherington, a 1987 graduate of Western High School who played varsity basketball during his sophomore, junior and senior years.
“Our first game of the year was always against Kokomo, and Memorial Gym was my favorite place to play,” Etherington says. “Though we only won on their court once, the first game of my Junior year, they were always close games and the gym was always packed.”
Western High School games drew good crowds too.
“We had great fan support at WHS which helped us win all but one home game my senior year.”
He recalls a time when they played Lafayette Central Catholic, who was ranked number-two behind Marion, a team that won the state championship three years running. During this particular game, Etherington and his teammates broke Lafayette Central Catholic’s 42-game winning streak.
“That felt good,” he says.
In 1987 Etherington played on the Indiana All-Star team, then went on to play for Butler University at Hinkle Fieldhouse, which he describes as “one of the greatest arenas in the country.” Between his sophomore and junior year, Barry Collier came on board as Butler’s coach.
“Though we struggled my junior year, senior year was a different story,” he says.
They won 18 games, including beating Notre Dame and Wisconsin, taking them to the National Invitation Tournament. He recalls the time when Butler played Evansville – a battle that went into triple overtime. Every Evansville player fouled out except for the five on the court, each of whom had four fouls. Ultimately Evansville pulled out the win, but Etherington scored his career high as did several of his teammates. Even all these years later, some people who were there describe it as the greatest game they ever saw.
Etherington, now a captain at the Noblesville Fire Department, says the best part of basketball is watching his children play the game. His oldest son Austin played for two years at Indiana University, then transferred to Butler where he played another two years. His middle son Alex, redshirted at Indiana State, played one year then transferred to the University of Indianapolis to play for three years. His youngest Aaron redshirted at the University of Toledo, then transferred to the University of Indianapolis where he’s now a redshirt freshman.
“It’s so rewarding watching them in college but also spending quality time with them in life,” says Etherington, who recently celebrated his one-year wedding anniversary with his wife Michelle. An athlete herself, she was a three-sport standout at Lapel. Her daughter Breanna was just four points shy of being Lapel’s all-time leading scorer, and her other daughter Brooklynn is a freshman splitting time between varsity and junior varsity.
The lessons learned in basketball have certainly translated into life as a firefighter.
“Team sports teach you so much about working together for a common goal as well as having each other‘s back,” Etherington says.