Next Tuesday, Penn and Warsaw will play a boys basketball game in Warsaw, but it will not be in the Tiger Den at Warsaw Community High School.

With former Tiger coach Al Rhodes’ coaching career seeming to be winding to a close soon, Warsaw coach Matt Moore thought it might be a neat way to honor him by playing this year’s game in the Lakeview Middle School gym—known now as the Old Tiger Den.

It’s where Coach Rhodes patrolled the sidelines for the first 10 years of his reign as Tiger head coach.

It’s where some of the great memories in Tiger Basketball—both boys and girls—were made from 1960 through 1990.

A few things have changed since the last time the Tigers played a game there. The lighting is brighter. The scoreboards are the modern LED variety. The end bleachers were removed from both the east and west ends. The paint job on the floor is different.

But not everything has changed.

The scorers’ table is still the same, and the seats in the upper deck will need to be wiped down because the dust from the last 33 years has accumulated in places where the blowers don’t reach.

And the echoes…oh, those echoes are still there. They’d never leave.

And now the current Tigers will try to summon those same echoes that swept away the epic 40-game winning streak of the Marion Giants in January of 1986 to help them beat a state-championship-caliber team in the Penn Kingsmen.

There will be a long line of human beings waiting for the doors to open.

The No-Name Quartet is singing the national anthem.

The student section should learn God Bless America.

Could you imagine them stirring up the chant “Rip ‘em up, tear ‘em up, give ‘em…” well, if you know, you know.

And the roar when the Tiger varsity runs out of the locker room and onto the floor in their orange-striped pants and black tops will be deafening.

I won’t lie…that’s the part I’m looking forward to the most.

I hope it excites you, too.

A few things for you to think about as you contemplate attending the game next week.

First, you are no-doubt wondering about ticket availability. You aren’t wrong to start there.   

3,000 tickets will be available to the public for the game. Presale tickets will be online only at Warsaw fans who have all-sports passes and those who bought presale tickets will be admitted starting at 5pm. Any remaining seats available will be sold to the public at 5:30pm at the door.

Warsaw all-sports pass holders should plan to arrive prior to 5:30 to be assured of getting seats.

The junior varsity game will begin at 6:15.

All the work put in by the people in the Warsaw athletic department. All the work put in by the leadership of Lakeview Middle School. So many people doing so many extra things to honor one man—a math teacher who became a Hall of Fame basketball coach who is and will continue to be the gold standard in Warsaw.

With over 400 wins at Warsaw and over 200 wins at Penn, he’s earned that praise.

And he deserves to hear that roar in the “Old Tiger Den” one more time.

And he will, because the roar that will come when the Tigers enter the playing surface will likely be matched by one for that man in the black suit coat and tie marching out of his team’s locker room with the same determined stride he’s taken almost a thousand times before.

Al Rhodes is the King of Warsaw Basketball, and he always will be.

And if this is, indeed, his last trip to coach in Warsaw, I hope this man who is so focused and so intense on doing his job well can take a moment and take in what he sees and hears.

I hope his meticulous and detail-driven mind will pause—even for just a few seconds—to let him appreciate the roar in Warsaw this one more time.

I hope the articles from all the different media outlets will cover the many angles of all the many storylines that game will hold.

I hope our broadcast on News Now Warsaw captures the moment and brings people to it from around the area and the world.

But most of all, I hope the people who come to the “Old Tiger Den” next Tuesday will come ready to cheer like they did in 1984.

The first year of the new high school was the year before I started at WRSW in 1991, and I’d sure like to hear that sound with my own ears.

So, tell the custodial staff at Lakeview Middle School to get a big box of rags and wipe off the dust from the seats in the upper deck…people are coming over next Tuesday.

Lots and lots of people.