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Some images never forgotten

Some images never forgotten
Some images never forgotten
At the Class 2A boys state basketball final in the RCA Dome, 7-year-old Amne Brawner cries as her Southwestern Rebels fall to Alexandria. File photo by Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart, Staff Writer

By now, the field for the 103rd annual Indiana High School Athletic Association boys’ basketball state tournament is down to the final 64 teams, spread across four classes. Though we’ve long since passed the hey-day of the high school basketball tournament, the sport still intertwines Hoosiers across the state.
A few years ago, between the morning and night sessions at the state finals at Conseco Fieldhouse (now Bankers Life Fieldhouse), a friend of mine and I were eating at a restaurant near the basketball facility. We were watching the NCAA tournament on television and struck up a conversation from a fellow who lived in the Hanover area and said he followed Southwestern High School basketball.
I quickly thought back to the 1997-98 season in which the Southwestern Rebels advanced to the RCA Dome for the inaugural Class 2A state championship, which I attended. The squad battled through injury but came up on the short end of a 57-43 score to Alexandria. As the final seconds ticked off the clock in that game, I turned from my seat on press row and saw a 7-year-old girl whose eyes were full of tears as she looked up at the scoreboard that was over center court. As she stood there in her Southwestern gear, sobbing in the game’s final few seconds, I snapped a photo.
Photographers take thousands upon thousands of photos. Most photos are forgotten. Some images they capture, however, are burned into their minds. The photo of this girl was the latter.
I’d often wondered what ever happened to the youngster. Did she grow up to play sports at Southwestern? Why did the game mean so much to such a young girl? What’s she doing now?
I asked the man if he knew her. He said that he did, that she’d graduated from SHS. One day recently I turned to Facebook to see if I could find her. A few keystrokes later, through the miracle of technology, there she was. I sent her a message and, before long, I had the answers I was looking for.
Amne Brawner, now 22, she said she remembered me, the game and the photo. She also remembered me sending her and her mother an 8×10 copy of the picture, too (something I’d forgotten about).
‘My dad was the assistant coach of the team and, before the tournament started, the team came over to our house for dinner to see who they drew for their first sectional game,’ Brawner recalled. ‘For the state finals game, I remember my family painted all of the windows on our vehicles and we caravanned up to Indianapolis for the game. I remember I was able to sit by my best friend, Hilary, and we cheered the entire game.
‘Near the end, I remember getting really nervous and I started saying lots of prayers. I remember watching the clock wind down and the wrong team was in the lead. I think I remember Dale Crafton hugging his son Trevor as they announced his name for being a member of the runner-up team. And I thought it was really sad because they were both upset.’
Brawner went on to play sports at Southwestern, including volleyball her freshman and sophomore years, golf her junior and senior years (she went to regional her senior year) and track all four years. Her senior season she even set the school discus record.
The 1998 boys’ state final wasn’t the only one Brawner attended. When Southwestern’s girls went to the state finals twice, winning the 2A title in 2002, Brawner was there.
‘The first time they went I was in the fifth grade and I remember going to all of the pep rallies. I remember at one point in one of the games, Catherine Graham was knocked to the floor, flat on her belly, and she never lost her dribble,’ Brawner said. ‘I thought it was the coolest thing ever.’
Brawner is on track to graduate in May from Purdue University, and she’s getting married in the fall.
And forevermore, we’ll be tied together by one of the state’s greatest treasures and an image captured at f2.8, 1/250 at 1600 ISO.