Earl Smith Jr. recently received word he will be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in the 57th class.
He graduated from Gary Roosevelt in 1952, played football at Iowa, then returned home to Gary, where he worked for the city schools for 56 years. He coached basketball at Lew Wallace, Froebel, Emerson, West Side and Tolleston. He finished his career as Gary's city athletic director.
Smith Jr. was the first African-American coach at Froebel, Emerson and Lew Wallace. He won 323 games with five conference titles, three sectional and regional championships. His 1977 Emerson team won the inaugural Hall of Fame Classic tournament.
Smith Jr. coached five All-Americans -- Charles Hicks, Wallace Bryant, Frank Smith, Tellis Frank and Jerome Harmon.
Take a bow coach. You deserve this honor.
The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 57th Annual Men’s Awards Banquet will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.
On the women's side, two Valparaiso players will also be inducted -- Jennifer (Cole) Davis, a 1989 grad, and Dana (Drew) Shaw, a 1990 Vikings grad will enter the Hall together.
Cole (Davis) left Valpo with career records of 1,083 points and 429 rebounds. She then went to LaSalle University, where she left as the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,875 points.
Drew (Shaw) scored 1,125 career points at Penn and Valparaiso. She then went to Toledo, where she finished with 1,919 career points and 659 assists.
Ladies, take a bow. This honor is well deserved.
The Hall of Fame also announced its 2018 Silver Anniversary team. Locals among that group are West Side teammates Kasia McClendon and Danielle McCulley.
The 17th Annual Women’s Awards Banquet is Saturday, April 28, 2018.
21st Century's spark off bench
Christian Rogers is a 5-foot-10 senior guard on 21st Century, the program that's advanced to two straight Class A semistates.
You would think his position in the Cougars starting lineup would be secure, locked in cement.
But when the team started off 2-2 and wasn't playing very well, coach Rodney Williams made a move. Rogers started each game thereafter on the bench.
Since then, 21st Century is 6-1.
"We didn't have much offense coming off the bench," Williams said. "So we put Christian there and he's done a nice job since."
In Thursday's 58-33 win over Hebron, Rogers scored six points with four assists and four steals.
"I think it's working," Williams said.
Horsemen still running the floor
Williams is a graduate of Horace Mann, one of Gary's great high schools that closed in 2004. Assistant coach and 21st Century athletic director Ricky Haskins also graduated from Mann, where the two played basketball back in the 1970s.
So a banner from the Horace Mann Alumni group hangs inside 21st Century's gymnasium showing support for the Cougars.
"Yes, the Horsemen are still hanging around," Haskins said.
Where is Virgil Sweet?
Lake Station coach Bob Burke wasn't happy after Friday night's loss to River Forest. No, not at all.
In the 66-62 loss, the Eagles were 9 of 23 from the free-throw line, which is almost mathematically impossible.
Probably the most eye-raising stat came from star guard Dominique Smith, who was 3 of 10 from the charity stripe.
"We have a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and we lose by four and we missed 14 free throws," Burke said. "That was the game right there. If we hit our free throws we win the game."
Game of the Week
Fort Wayne North lived up to its Class 4A state ranking at No. 10 by beating No. 11 Valparaiso 68-63 on Friday night.
But Vikings junior Brandon Newman continued his climb up Indiana's Mount Rushmore. He hit four 3-pointers and scored 33 points with 13 rebounds at the Marion Classic.
Newman receives the Saturday Morning Scorer's Table player of the week honor.
Congrats young man. Can't wait to see you play soon.
Slight of Hand?
LAKE STATION — Talk about getting a cream pie in the face.
If River Forest boys basketball coach Derrick Milenkoff had turned in the stats of Jordan Higgins, who is averaging 28.6 points a game, into the state, the junior guard would be fourth in Indiana in scoring.
And the Region's top scorer.
But Milenkoff did not send the stats in. Not yet, anyway.
"I didn't want to put his stats in until after this game," Milenkoff said before the Lake Station game. "I didn't want them to know."
Higgins scored 23 in the win against Lake Station.