Rich Rust can recall as if it were yesterday when the Hebron boys basketball team traveled to Lafayette Jeff for the regional.
"It was (as if) the whole town of Hebron shut down," Rust said. "Both in 1974 and 1976 we played Jeff in the championship and we had a big following."
He said it was kind of special as the Hawks won the Kankakee Valley Sectional and were playing in a historic gym.
"Once we got used to the big crowd, we made the adjustment and we were fine," Rust said. "It was a thrill to play in that gym and against Jeff. We played hard, but we just didn't have enough."
In the morning regional game in 1974, the Hawks beat North White and in 1976, it was Frontier. Twice they faced the Bronchos in the regional championship and lost.
Rust went on to play one year at Alaska-Anchorage, then he transferred to Fort Hays State in Kansas. Now, he is the concrete superintendent for Empire Contractors, Inc. in Evansville.
Before leaving for college, Rust was one of the best athletes to come out of Hebron. The 1976 graduate starred in basketball, baseball, cross country and track.
He was a two-time Porter County Conference basketball player of the year (1974-75 and 1975-76), all-conference in track and field in 1974 (high jump), '75 (800, high jump) and '76 (440, 880 relay), and all-PCC in cross country in 1974 and 1975.
In basketball, he averaged 19.1 points-per-game his junior year and 16.8 his senior year as he was named first-team all-state for small schools by the Bloomington Herald. In his three-year varsity career, he had 875 total rebounds.
"That was a lot of fun and being at a small school, I was able to play all four sports," Rust said. "The PCC was good basketball, and we had a tough one every Friday. We knew each other, played against each other in the summer and loved the competition."
The Hawks won the South County Tournament all four years he was at Hebron.
"The South County Tournament was really special," Rust said. "Back then, you didn't have a lot do. There was no Internet, cellphones, so a lot of kids showed up to the games. It was like a postseason atmosphere. It was really special for the small schools to have our own tourney."