Like grandfather, like grandson. It may not be the most common phrase, but it’s certainly true for the Merryman family.
Dean Merryman graduated from Huntington in 1962 as one of the best basketball players to don a Forester uniform, and his grandson, HU senior Shane Merryman, also will go down in the history books as one of the program’s best.
Together, these two Merrymans have helped guide the Foresters to more than 140 wins.
The elder Merryman, inducted into the HU Hall of Fame in 1977, averaged 20.2 points per outing over the course of his career to finish with 1,855 points placing him eighth on HU’s all-time scoring list coming into this season. But that position didn’t hold — thanks to his grandson.
Shane waited until last month to pass his grandpa and is now well on his way to wrapping up his career in green and white with more than 2,000 points to finish no lower than the 7th spot on the all-time scoring list.
While Dean boasted a higher career scoring average than Shane by almost five points per night, he is quick to suggest that his grandson was the more well-rounded player of the two.
“At 6’5,” I was usually taller and stronger than most of my opponents so I relied on my power to score points whereas Shane has had to be more creative in how he scores because he’s always battling opponents who are bigger than him,” Dean said.
Even though Shane also claims a 6’5” frame, he has had to develop a repertoire of post moves and a convincing shot fake in order to put points on the board. The younger Merryman also has gone to the free-throw line a lot more than his elder and steps outside for a perimeter shot from time-to-time, which is something his grandpa rarely did.
Both Merrymans led their respective squads to winning seasons every year, but when asked how his team from back in the day would fair against the current Forester squad, Dean wasted little time pointing out how much the game has changed over the last 50 years.
“Despite playing with some great teammates in Lowell Stouder and Duane Kline, also members of the Forester 1,000 point club, as well as Scott Hosler and Bill Lightner,” Dean said, “we wouldn’t stand a chance against the current team.
“The game is much quicker now. Shane is playing in an era of higher-caliber athletes who are much more fundamentally sound, faster and bigger.”
While the game and its athletes have changed, one thing remains: Forester pride runs deep in the Merryman household. Dean made sure his grandson grew up around Huntington basketball.
In addition to attending Forester camp as an elementary student, Shane also came to his fair share of HU games when he was in junior high where he recalls watching the likes of Kyle Ganton (’07), Alex Kock (’07), Jared Yoder (’07), Chase Verba (’06), Steve Snider (’06) and Doug Sheckler (’08).
After years of watching from the Huntington stands, it’s no surprise that eventually Shane took to the hardwood to sport his own Forester uniform and create his own story.
When asked his top few highlights from the last four years, several big wins top Shane’s list.
“Beating Indiana Wesleyan last year in first-round action of the conference tourney and beating Bethel on their floor this year because coming into this season it was the only gym that we hadn’t won in yet,” he said.
With fondness, Dean also recalls several highlights from his playing days which included beating Taylor in the championship game of a tourney hosted at the community gym and hitting a buzzer-beater against Indiana Tech.
Buzzer-beaters must run in the family as Shane also had a shot that won’t soon be forgotten. With his grandpa as a witness, he chucked up a 3/4-court shot at the buzzer against Marian back in November that found nothing but the bottom of the net to lift his Foresters past the Knights in the conference opener and went viral as a top pick on ESPN.
So whether they’re hitting a game-winner or pouring in 30 points on any given night, one thing remains: both players have left an indelible mark on Forester basketball. Like grandfather, like grandson.