The Journal Gazette
Saturday, May 21, 2022 1:00 am

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A Hoosier legend for more than hoops

EDITORIAL BOARD | The Journal Gazette

Ray Pavy was a basketball player, coach, teacher and assistant superintendent at New Castle High School. In his Hoosier hometown, he'll always be remembered as a legend of the sport he loved.

Pavy passed away Monday at the age of 80.

New Castle High School Fieldhouse has been the site of many consequential basketball games since its opening Nov. 21, 1959. A 9,325-seat venue when portable seats are added, it's the largest high school gymnasium in Indiana and worthy of a visit by any basketball fan.

But the school's best-remembered game was played in a small downtown gym in February of that year while the fieldhouse was under construction. Known as the “Church Street Shootout,” the game starred Kokomo sharpshooter Jimmy Rayl for the visiting team and New Castle's Pavy, who averaged 23.3 points per game that season.

It was New Castle's final regular-season matchup of 1959 and determined the North Central Conference championship. Rayl shot 18-of-28 from the floor and 13-of-14 from the free-throw line for 49 points. Pavy went 23-of-36 from the field and 5-of-8 from the line for 51 points. New Castle took the victory and the conference crown, 92-81.

Rayl was named Mr. Basketball in 1959, and Pavy was runner-up. Both All-Stars went on to play for coach Branch McCracken at Indiana University.

Pavy, a 6-foot 2-inch center, played 18 games for McCracken's Hoosiers during the 1960-61 season. But on Sept. 2 of that year, a car Pavy was driving struck an oncoming vehicle on Indiana 52 in Benton County. His fiancee, Betty Sue Pierce, died in the accident. Pavy was paralyzed from the waist down.

Despite the injury, Pavy completed undergraduate and graduate degrees at IU Bloomington. University President Herman B. Wells relocated Pavy's classes to accommodate him, Sports Illustrated reported, and it is believed Pavy was IU's first student who used a wheelchair.

Pavy's brother-in-law, Dave McCoy, told the Indianapolis Star his sister's husband had a way with others.

“He changed so many people's lives by the way he conducted his own life after the accident,” McCoy said. “We would run into people all the time who would have stories and memories of him. He changed my life in the last 40 years. He didn't lead people by force, but he led people with great enthusiasm and he knew how to handle people to get them to the next level.”

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