Potato Vs. Goliath

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They tried to kill Cinderella in Indiana this year. For 86 years, the Hoosier State's high school basketball tournament was winner-take-all, no matter how big the team or how small. Not now: Some geniuses decided that it would be more sporting to break the tourney into divisions, based on school size. David vs. David, Goliath vs. Goliath. No more Bobby Plump, whose buzzer-beater in 1954 gave tiny Milan High (enrollment 161) the state title and a hallowed place in local legend.

Hoosier high school basketball is life itself to Indianans, Homer and the Bible together on the hardcourt. Milan High was their one true David. But now the great roundball Cinderellas all hail from Hollywood.

Luckily, Bobby Plump springs eternal in Hoosiers (1986). Based on that 1954 miracle and starring Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, and someone named Maris Valainis as team hero Jimmy Chitwood, this movie will melt the most cynical of hearts and have you out shooting baskets in the middle of the night. The institution it glorified is changed forever, but Hoosiers remembers. Watch it every spring.

More on-screen Cinderellas abide -- and stall -- in Hoop Dreams (1994), a gritty, often wrenching documentary about climbing the athletic ladder in Chicago that got screwed out of an Oscar in 1994 (but what else is new). Teen dream Leo DiCaprio, back when he could act, drives the lane to ruination, via the glories attendant to a ball-playing youth, in Basketball Diaries (1995). Girls: there's a sex scene. Parents: Lots of heroin too.

Watch the games. Rewind the tapes. And if you're ever in Indianapolis, stop in for a bite at Bobby Plump's Last Shot. The food is inspirational.