HILLARY SMITH: Welcome back, here where we need ya

2013-02-17T21:30:00Z 2013-02-21T23:01:09Z HILLARY SMITH: Welcome back, here where we need yaHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
February 17, 2013 9:30 pm  • 

The Hammond Civic Center was the last host of a semistate basketball tournament in the region.

That was 1944, just eight years after the semistate round was introduced into the boys basketball IHSAA state tournament.

In 38 editions of the girls basketball tournament, no semistate round had been played in Lake or Porter counties.

Until now.

With one phone call, Crown Point will host the Class A and Class 3A North Semistate games on Saturday, putting a basketball semistate back in the region for the first time in 69 years.

The IHSAA called C.P. Athletic Director Bill Dorulla and asked if the Bulldogs would be willing to host the semistate. It was as simple as that.

Crown Point hosted a girls soccer semistate in 2009, and the Class 3A boys basketball regional in 2011.

"When we host, I think they know that we put on a good event," Dorulla said. "They called and asked us to do it, and we said 'sure.' They called us just because I think they thought we'd be good for girls basketball, and it would be good to put it up here."

In 2009, then IHSAA commissioner Blake Ress told The Times that Porter County made for a better drive from teams out of the area.

"Attendance is important. Events I see held in the northern part of the county don't draw many people," Ress told Al Hamnik. "We need to make some money on the regionals, semistates and state finals. All of our regionals deal with geography and Porter is usually more centrally-located for tournaments than Lake County."

Four years ago, that was a downer, to think we might always be excluded. The tide has shifted and that's great news for the region.

While it's too bad that there won't be a local representative for the semistate, the Class A and Class 3A games have been sent to the C.P. gym.

Welcome Lafayette Central Catholic, Fort Wayne Canterbury, Hamilton Heights and Benton Central to the area. We're happy to have you.

The official longest drive is 135 miles by Class 3A's Hamilton Heights (Canterbury is 134 miles from The Hub).

That's about the same as Bowman's drive to Huntington in 2010 en route to the Class 1A state title: 125 miles.

"I think we've got a pretty good reputation hosting things here," Dorulla said. "The basketball regional was big for us because it was four teams and we had great crowds. I think we did really well with that and they see us as a good site."

The area had two chances late Saturday night for trips to Crown Point for the semistate: Merrillville, which lost by a point to Warsaw, and Boone Grove, which lost by 27 to Bishop Luers.

That would have been drives of nine miles and 15 miles. Instead, Class 4A and 2A games are in Warsaw.

Until next year, when we can hope for another chance to jump the regional hump, remember the region again.

After 69 years away, we missed you, welcome back.

"The last time we had a gym packed was when the Globetotters came here," Dorulla said. "It would be nice to see that again."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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