sports blog by andy shenk

North Side Gym Frenzy

In At The Game, Elkhart Basketball on January 19, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Elkhart Central had the home crowd roaring after Jaron Walters’ jumper pulled the Blazers within four points of Concord on Tuesday night with 4:58 to play. Despite leading in the first half, the Blue Blazers fell behind by as many as 12 after the break. Two 3-pointers from the home team to close the third quarter, however, including a half-court buzzer-beater from senior point guard Terell Street cut the deficit to six points, 34-28. Concord’s Adam Glanders scored a couple of easy buckets in transition, but Central made a second charge, Street, Tre Taylor and Walters combining for a 6-0 run.

On Concord’s next possession, the game took a strange turn. Elkhart senior John Stahl accidentally knocked Glanders down while battling for a defensive rebound. The refs didn’t see contact and refused to make the call, ignoring the hail of boos from the visiting fans. After a Blazer miss, Concord’s senior Franko House drew a foul, Elkhart Central’s ninth, sending him to the line for a 1-and-1 opportunity. His first attempt rimmed out and the Blazers looked to corral the rebound, but the refs stepped in, whistling an odd pushing foul on Stahl against DuWhan Alford.

Already upset by the call, the refs put Central coach Troy Noble into conniptions when they motioned to House to take his second free throw, although he had missed the front end of the 1-and-1! House sank the second attempt. Alford then stepped to the charity stripe for two more freebies, Central charged with 10 fouls on the scoreboard. Though he missed both attempts, the 6-6 House ripped down the rebound and went back up for two points, 41-34 Concord with 3:30 to play.

Street gave Central a sliver of hope, hitting a deep ‘3’ with 1:08 on the clock to make it 43-37, but Concord big man Filip Serwatka converted two free-throw attempts on Concord’s next possession to end the Blazer hopes.

Though the score ended up lopsided, 49-37, the energy in the gym stayed high all night until Serwatka’s free throws with under a minute to go. In fact, North Side Gym welcomed the largest crowd of 2013 to this contest between local rivals. Concord senior Franko House, bound for Ball State in the fall, came in four points shy of 1000 in his career with about that many people on hand to watch him. Twenty minutes before tip-off the crowd was already buzzing. The student sections dressed in Concord green and Central light blue; many of the visiting students had T-shirts with House’s name printed on the back.

The Central players, 3-8 on the season, amped each other up during lineup introductions and the two Central leaders, Street and Stahl, had a quick talk before the opening tip. Their emotions weren’t hard to read: Beating Concord would mean everything. The Minutemen¬†entered North Side 9-1, the best team in the county, with a rival fan base that would support them loud and clear all night.

The first quarter went splendidly. Though House quickly notched his 1000th point on a backdoor dunk and 3-pointer, Central won the period 14-10, capped by Stahl’s drive to the basket with 20 seconds left.

With Concord playing offense in the first half on the same end as Central’s bench, Coach Noble drove his men to defend from the sideline. Early in the second quarter, the Minutemen passed the ball to the wing nearest the Central bench and Noble, pacing up and down, helped whip the defenders into a frenzy. Concord wasted several possessions under the pressure and Central kept its lead, 18-14, with 5:32 to play in the half.

Then the wheels fell off. Over the next 9 minutes Concord ripped off a 17-1 run, the Blazers’ only point coming on a Street free throw with four and a half minutes left in the half. Though the home team awoke from their stupor and played Concord even in the final quarter and a half, they couldn’t undo the damage from the middle part of the game.

Central’s biggest task, defending House, proved too difficult as the senior finished with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds. His physical play in the second and third quarters sparked Concord’s run, while the foul trouble Central experienced defending him helped seal the game for the visitors.

Central drops to 3-9, Concord improves to 10-1 after this non-conference clash. The Blazers know what to do, though, if the schools meet in sectional play. Cut down on their 15 turnovers and sink a few more open looks from beyond the arc. Central has the defensive ability to slow any team down. Now the team will try to release the offense.

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