Heritage honors 40th anniversary state championship team

November 21, 2021

Players and coaches from Heritage's 1982 girls basketball state championship team (photo Erica Mays)


When Heritage girls basketball won the 1982 state championship, little did the Lady Patriots know the history the Lady Patriots were making at the time.

That team was celebrated Saturday, November 20, on the 40th anniversary of that magical season that remains Heritage High School's lone state title in any sport. Hall-of-fame coach Cheri Gilbert was among those honored in a team reunion and alumni reception as the current Lady Patriots hosted Bellmont in an early non-conference matchup.

When Heritage won the state championship 40 years ago, girls basketball was an up-and-coming sport in the Hoosier State. The IHSAA started sanctioning girls basketball in 1975, and the girls hoops state champions featured larger schools and even repeat champions in Warsaw and East Chicago Roosevelt in the sport's first seven seasons.

With Heritage's 52-45 victory over Valparaiso in the 1982 title game, Heritage became and still is the smallest school by enrollment (665 students), to win the girls basketball state championship in the single-class era that ran 1975 to 1997.

Heritage finished 24-2 that season--with losses coming to Leo and Bishop Dwenger in the regular season finale. The Lady Patriots won the Allen County Athletic Conference Championship, the ACAC Tournament, the Harding Sectional, the Northrop Regional and the Northrop Semi-State.

heritage team photo 1982
Heritage Lady Patriots, 1982 IHSAA Girls Basketball State Champions (photo Lantern yearbook)

The Lady Patriots were led that season by junior Jody Beerman, who became a household name in Allen County. Her 53 points combined in the two games of the state finals gave her larger notoriety across the state, and she would go on to win Indiana Miss Basketball as a senior.

Heritage returned state finals, losing to eventual state champion Crown Point in the state semi-final. Beerman won the Mental Attitude Award.

Beerman was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame as an indivudual in 2010 and with as part of the 25th Anniversary All-Star Silver Anniversary Team in 2008.

jody beerman state pep rally
Heritage junior Jody Beerman speaks at the state championship pep rally at the school after the Lady Patriots won the 1982 state championship (photo Lantern yearbook)


Gilbert, who eventually became Heritage athletic director, was added to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018. She retired in 2017 after 39 years of teaching, coaching and as AD at Heritage.

>WATCH: 1982 IHSAA Girls Basketball State Championship (Heritage vs. Valparaiso) on IHSAA YouTube

Heritage would go on to win sectional titles in 1984, 1985, 1988 and 1994. 


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