Up 600 West at the Emma Cafe the sweet fragrance of baked goods fresh from the oven mingled with the eye-opening smell of fresh-brewed coffee. Around the window table, Ron and Travis Hostetler, Adam Lambright and Ken Martin were warming their usual seats. They catch lunch each day at the cafe owned by Ron’s daughter, Molly Michael.
Any Westview fans here? a reporter asks. Yes there were.
Travis was the student manager for the 1999 state champs.
“I had the best seat in the house,” he said of watching that title unfold in Indianapolis.
He also remembers a perk of being one of the mangers. “We practiced on the side court while the rest of them ran,” he laughed.
His dad, Ron, looked forward to today’s game.
“It is a great experience for them,” Ron said, “Win or lose, it is something they will never forget.”
Ron is also part of the Westview basketball tradition. He is a 1972 graduate and played forward for Coach Denny Foster. The team went 13-8 that year. Gary Yoder, Westview’s all-time scoring leader with 1,711 career points, was a member of that team and Ron mentioned him fondly.
“When he was a senior,” Ron boasted, “they went all the way to regionals.”
That 1972-73 team won Westview’s first sectional championship at East Noble in the old one-class tournament format.
“The first sectional title,” said longtime Westview Athletic Director Darlene Mathew, “was a very big deal.”
Ron Hostetler’s take on why the Westview community is committed to basketball is it’s because football has no role in the community.
“We are basketball fanatics,” Ron said. “We don’t play football. A lot of schools look toward football. We put everything into basketball.”
Former Westview coach Troy Neely, who led the Warriors to their back-to-back state titles, agrees with that assessment.
“The program has a large following because there are not a thousand things to do (in LaGrange County),” Neely said. “The school doesn’t have football, so if you want to be a part of the family you have to play basketball.”