Ripley County Basketball Hall of Fame 2023 induction class announced

The Ripley County Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Directors have selected the 2023 induction class.

The six inductees will be recognized between the consolation and championship games of the Ripley County Boys Basketball Tournament on Saturday, January 8 at South Ripley HIgh School.

The official induction ceremony and dinner will be held at Tyson Activity Center (formerly known as Tyson Auditorium) in April on a date to be announced.

The inductees’ biographies can be read below:

Michael Menser- Batesville (1997)

As single-class basketball was coming to a close in the state of Indiana, perhaps no other player served the role of small-town superstar better than Michael Menser. A four-year varsity player under Ripley County Basketball Hall of Fame member Melvin Siefert, Menser celebrated a
decorated career, leaving the Bulldogs in 1997 as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,699 points, a record 233 career 3-point field goals made, the school’s career assist record with 414, most points in a season with 696 and the career free throw percentage mark at 87 percent. Scoring 30 points or more in nine games, Menser’s Batesville teams went a combined 86-15 in four years with four conference championships, four sectional titles, two Ripley County Tournament championships, the 1994 regional crown and the 1997 Hall of Fame Classic championship. The Bulldogs were regional runner-up in 1997, falling to New Castle in overtime.

At the end of the 1997 season, Menser was named an Indiana All-Star, 1st Team All-State selection and runner-up for the Indiana Mr. Basketball Award, finishing just behind future Indiana and Iowa star Luke Recker. Menser’s career then continued at Indiana State University where he would lead the Sycamores to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since Larry Bird took the program to the NCAA Championship game. His 2001 team, the same year in which Menser led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, upset Oklahoma in the first round of the tourney before bowing out to Gonzaga in round two. A school-record holder in numerous three-point categories and a top five career leader in steals and assists, Menser was also an All-Missouri Valley Conference member, MVC Tournament Most Outstanding Player and was an Indiana State Athletics Hall of Fame inductee in 2012. Just this past year, Menser was named to
the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary Team.

Menser now serves as an administrator in the Plainfield school district and has been successful in ventures through both education and coaching.

Forrest Shook- Batesville (1934)

Forrest Shook played through some of the game’s major rule changes in the early 1930’s including the introduction of the 10-second and 3-second rules but neither deterred the 1934 graduate from a stellar career at Batesville. Shook played under both Richard Prentice and Jim
Hickey during his high school days, and was a member of two sectional championship squads in 1933 and 1934 along with being a part of the program’s first-ever Ripley County Tournament championship team in 1932. The icing on the cake would be in the 1934 season when “Shook
Ran Wild,” scoring 25 total points in the regional tournament including 19 points against host Rushville to win the school’s first-ever regional championship. The Bulldogs would lose by just five points to eventual state runner-up Indianapolis Tech the following weekend in the first round of the 16-team state championship tournament.

Shook finished with nearly 500 career points between just his junior and senior seasons and he was named an honorable mention selection to the 1934 All-State team while also holding a Ripley County Tournament record for more than 20 years after his 23 points against Napoleon in 1933 set a mark for most single-game points in the county tourney. In three varsity seasons, Shook’s Batesville teams went a combined 59-14. After a high school career that also included being Batesville’s first top three finisher in the track and field state finals (placing 3rd with a jump of 12 feet in the pole vault), Shook shot up to 6-feet-6 and went on to a basketball and track and field career at Ball State University where he was a three-year letter winner in both. On the hardwood, he would play for future Indiana University coaching great Branch McCracken and eventually finish as the team’s second leading scorer his junior season.

Forrest Shook passed away on June 13, 1983 but not before making his mark as a family man in Logansport. He and his wife Esther raised four children following his playing days, Tom, Dick, Linda and Susan.

Carmen (Rohls) Pride- Jac-Cen-Del (1996)

Averaging double figures in three of her four varsity seasons including two years of nearly 15 points per game, Carmen Pride was a driving force in the success of Jac-Cen-Del girls basketball in the mid 1990’s. Scoring 937 points in her career, Pride helped the Lady Eagles to
back-to-back sectional championships and a regional runner-up finish in 1996, falling to Brownstown Central in double overtime. Team accolades during that time also included two ORVC titles and a Ripley County Tournament crown in 1996. A two-year All-County and
All-Sectional selection, Carmen was also named to the All-Regional team in 96 and was the ORVC MVP in each of her junior and senior seasons while also getting nods as a multi-time Player of the Week by numerous media outlets. She was an East/West All-Star, All-District
selection and was selected a member of the Academic All-State team. Her playing career at JCD also wrapped up with 501 career rebounds, a 49 percent field goal percentage which included shooting over 50 percent in her final two years and a senior year that saw a shooting
mark of 54 percent, which led the area.

Pride, who was also successful at Jac-Cen-Del as a volleyball and softball player, went on to a tremendous basketball career at NCAA Division I Evansville, helping lead the Purple Aces to the NCAA Tournament in 1999 after scoring seven of her team’s 10 points in overtime to capture the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title. Evansville would follow with Pride the following year and punch a ticket to the National Invitational Tournament. She graduated with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the school and eventually returned to the area where she provided support to numerous fans and student-athletes alike. Several athletic training programs around can be credited to Pride’s assistance.

Whether as a coach, physical therapist or fan, Pride continues to aid the youth and adults of Southeastern Indiana and has helped spearhead several events that have brought money back into our schools and athletic programs.

William “Bill” Vankirk- Jac-Cen-Del (1977)

Bill Vankirk played under legendary head coach Dave Porter at Jac-Cen-Del from 1973-1977 and was instrumental his senior year in leading the Eagles to the 1977 sectional championship before being eliminated by Union County in the Connersville Regional. Scoring 712 career
points including a game-high 29 points, Vankirk was known for his overall play and hustle. He was a four-year letter winner, being selected Team MVP in 1975 alongside winning the Team Rebounding Award. In 1977, he won the Free Throw Award and was Team Captain all the way through the program’s run to the regional tournament.

Vankirk’s contributions to Jac-Cen-Del Athletics have continued even past graduation. He has not only served as a coach for the youth basketball and baseball programs, but he has also been an avid supporter of the Eagles, being in attendance for nearly all athletic events.
Currently, Vankirk serves as the Vice-President of the Ripley County Basketball Hall of Fame and has spent many years promoting the overall cause of the hall of fame while being instrumental in recognizing the great student-athletes of our past.

Vankirk was recently recognized for 47 years of service to the Napoleon Fire Department and he continues to spend his days assisting many in our area inside the insurance business. Bill and his wife Jane Ann reside in Holton and are the parents of children Annette, Jason and Bridgette. Bill and Jane Ann also are the proud grandparents of seven.

Danny Jackson- Versailles High School (1965)

Danny Jackson was a 1965 graduate of Versailles High School, playing four years under another legendary head coach in William “Gus” Moorhead. An All-County, All-Conference and All-Sectional selection, Jackson remains etched into the basketball record books for the Lions,
finishing among all-time leaders in 11 categories including records for most assists in a single-game (11) and most free throws scored in a single-game (22). His 141 assists in 1964 set a season-record for the program. Other top marks include second in single-season free throws
made (151) and career free throws made while his 18.5 points per game his senior year ranks fourth among top scoring averages per season. He is fourth on the list for single-game scoring, having scored 36 points against Vevay in 1964. He repeated that feat with 36 points and eight
assists against Sunman in 1965. Coach Moorhead said, “Jackson’s quickness and uncanny vision permitted him to react and see things before they even happened.” His excitement and energy created many great moments on both ends of the floor.

Although an opportunity to play collegiately at the University of Evansville was in his future, Jackson opted instead to join the United States Navy where his basketball playing was able to pair with his service to his country. He was an All-Tournament team member and Tourney MVP as part of the All-Services Championships in Asia while also being a two-time member of the All-Japan Team. His basketball skills were often featured in the Stars and Stripes-Pacific publication. After his service, Danny would make his way back to Versailles and embark on a
long career in the computer industry while also serving his community.

Jackson was one of several individuals who started up the county’s youth soccer program and brought it to the Versailles and Osgood communities in 1994. He is also a founding member of the Versailles Historical and Preservation Society.

Frank Kramer- Sunman (1959)

Frank Kramer’s basketball career perhaps is one of the most unique, especially when you consider the fact that he could not play until the doughnuts had been fried. Having to wake up between 4 am and 5 am everyday to work at his family’s donut shop, Kramer would prepare
the sweet treats and then head to Sunman High School where academics and basketball took over his life until well past 5 pm. That dedication and hard work became staples in his life and the grit made Frank a success on the court. By the end of his career, he was a leader in both points and assists, becoming one of the area’s top post players. Kramer culminated his career with 173 points in the 1958-59 season, helping Sunman to an overall 11-10 record and a sectional runner-up finish to Versailles. Most of his points came from the interior while his
passing prowess allowed him to connect to teammates from anywhere on the floor.

Kramer graduated with four letters in basketball, two in baseball and numerous accolades for his activities inside his academic career. He went on to Indiana University and left Bloomington in 1968 fully prepared for a career as an attorney. From 1969-1973 he served as Deputy and Assistant Attorney General for the state of Indiana and then returned to Lawrenceburg in 1976 where he joined the law office of Ewbank and Kramer. Frank has vast experience as a trial lawyer and focuses his practice on civil litigation.

He and his wife Nancy have three children (Frank Kramer IV, Kathy and Angela). Kramer was recognized in 2018 for 50 years practicing law by the Indiana State Bar Association and he continues to serve the community, including representing the Sunman-Dearborn Community School Corporation.

We thank Rob Lafary and the Ripley County Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Directors for the information used in this story.