I blog therefore I am.
This thought penetrated by skull on the long drive to LaPorte High School on Saturday afternoon. I had good company, my daughter Gracie, and the two of us were excited to watch the Crown Point Lady Bulldogs take on Hamilton Southeastern in the Class 4A semistate.
Gracie had played against C.P. in the regular season before an injury and she knew we were going to watch my alma mater play for a bus ride to Indianapolis, and yet another state championship appearance.
Echoes of the past, a gym full of people screaming “We are C.P.” just before the nets are cut down, shot through my brain again, just like all those times in the 1980s and ‘90s. The pulse quickened as we walked into the orange-tinted gym.
Saw a lot of old friends. Saw a gym that looked 75 percent full of people in red and white, many with the “We are C.P.” emblazoned on their chests. Then, I saw about 15 students from HSE wearing chef aprons. I thought, wow, this could be a noise mismatch to the 10th degree.
But not once did I hear the age-old chant from the folks from The Hub. Not once.
That’s how good the Royals were. Period.
An early lead kept growing like Jack’s beanstalk. This children’s tale ended in a 61-28 loss. This game wasn’t as close as the score.
“We obviously wanted to get off to a quick start,” said HSE coach Chris Huppenthal, the former Highland coach, and Highland native. “But we knew they hadn’t played the schedule, the people, we played. We just didn’t feel they could match up with us.”
The Lady Bulldogs were 0-for-8 from behind the 3-point line, while the Royals hit five in the first quarter. C.P. shot 20 percent from the field. Crown Point had 0 assists while its foes had 15.
This is why the chefs were dancing and screaming “Why so quiet” throughout the fourth quarter.
On the other side of the gym, the sound of silence and Simon and Garfunkel were absent.
“They hit is in the mouth right off the bat,” Crown Point coach Chris Seibert said. “It wasn’t a good day for us. But like I told the girls after the game, this loss does not take away the season we had. It was remarkable. The kids have come so far. We just have to keep working hard to get better so we can get back here.
“Nothing is guaranteed.”
Freshman Lilly Stoddard had nine points along with senior Ellie VanDeel. Freshman Jessica Carrothers had seven. Two of C.P.’s best players are ninth graders. The junior varsity went 22-1. The ninth-grade team was 16-2. And there is more talent coming from the middle schools.
This was an incredible run by these talented young ladies. The tears will likely be there for awhile. But I hope the athletes and the fans give a standing ovation to these Lady Bulldogs for putting the program back on the map.
John Dillinger can move over now.
“This meant a lot,” Carrothers said. “We got Crown Point’s program back to where it hadn’t been for years. Look at all the people who’ve come back to support us.”
One day young lady you guys will play in a game this big and they will be standing chanting, “We are C.P.”
It’s going to happen!
For Huppenthal, coaching in his seventh semistate, he did not have a Steve Young “Would somebody please get this monkey off my back” moment. He took four Highland teams to semistates before getting pushed out by some stupid politics, which is popular these days. He took Kokomo to one and Saturday was his second semistate with Hamilton Southeastern. He was an 0-fer in wins. He had kissed his sister six times before getting this win.
“In the other six semistates I was in we were never the favorite,” Huppenthal said. “This time we were. And we got it done like I thought we would.”
He had a smile on his face after that statement and I had one, too, as I was leaving Seibert smiled and said, “Hey, I heard you’re blogging now.”
See. It’s getting around. Me? A blogger.
I blog therefore I am.
There are several reasons why high school basketball in Indiana is historic and generational. The biggest, in my humble opinion, is the weather.
Go back 100 years when most Hoosiers worked on farms, and you’ll find folks who spent 10 months or so with their backsides on a horse or a tractor. And when it got cold and snowy or both, they went inside.
On Friday and Saturday nights they went inside the local gymnasium. It was the one place you didn’t need mittens or ear muffs or knee-high boots. Watching teenage kids shoot a ball through a hoop became a pastime.
A wonderful one, too.
This week has been colder than a witches’ ice tray, whiter than an Edgar Winter concert in Anchorage, and as boring as reading the local newspaper of late. It seems like the clock on the wall hasn’t budged in four days.
As of Friday morning not one game in Da Region had been played in the IHSAA girls basketball sectionals, traditionally the most exciting week of the year for the ladies.
We’ve all been "polar vortexed" to the 10 degree, below zero.
This madness has been vexing for the IHSAA, the local administrators, coaches and most importantly, the players.
Joe Huppenthal’s Lake Central Indians won the Class 4A sectional at Crown Point last February and it was a thrill. Police cars made a parade back to the school and the team, coaches and families celebrated at a local grub joint.
But twice when he was the boys basketball coach at South Bend Clay he won sectional titles on a Monday night. The gym was empty, the voices muffled and there was no time to celebrate because getting ready for regionals was immediate.
“It wasn’t very fun,” Huppenthal said of the Monday night net-cutting. “It just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t the same.”
Every local girls basketball sectional but one will crown its champion on Monday due to Mother Nature’s bitter cold breath, Bowman Academy’s finale will be on Tuesday night.
The Arctic winds have kept most of our schools closed this week. So Lake Central’s tough task of repeating at Lowell was to begin on Friday night. Three games will be played tonight -- Morton vs. Munster at 5 p.m., Lowell vs. Crown Point at 6:30 p.m. and L.C. vs. East Chicago Central at 8 p.m.
But the School City of Hammond cancelled school on Friday and did not make a decision on whether Morton would be allowed to play against Munster. District policy says that if school is not in session teams do not play.
If that rule isn’t bent a bit, the Lowell Sectional will not begin until Saturday. Hammond High is also scheduled to play on Friday night at Griffith.
“This is crazy,” Huppenthal said. “You could have two sectionals starting on Saturday night because of this. Saturday night is supposed to be the championship game.”
The IHSAA agreed and when this impending Siberian front was forecast, assistant commissioner Sandra Walter sent a contingency plan to all schools. The semifinals and championship games could’ve both been played on Saturday, forcing two teams to play twice.
I’ve seen Gus Macker tournaments tap the brakes better. The goal is this isn’t to get it over with as soon as possible.
“I’ve had some parents ask why they don’t bump the whole tournament ahead a week,” Huppenthal said. “But they can’t. They’ve got Bankers Life Fieldhouse rented for the state finals. They have to try to get back on schedule. This has just been awful. These games mean so much and we’re all pressed up against the clock.”
So this is where we’re at. Much of Northern Indiana is facing the same plight. Ans this is why basketball got so big in our state. Because the weather super sucks for three or four months every year.
I hope all the fans out there get out of your igloos and support these young ladies in the coming days, They deserve it. They’ve worked their entire lives for moments like this. Let them go out and compete for the hardware in a packed gymnasium.
We can do it. We’re Hoosiers.