LANSING | Even Timothy Christian guard Chris Ridolphi felt honored on Friday night.
Illiana Christian's famous cheering section, known as "The Loud Crowd," paid him what he said is a tribute.
"I've never been booed before," Ridolphi said after his team beat the Vikings. "It was actually kind of neat. This is just a great atmosphere to play in."
He didn't even mind being called a "momma's boy."
"What was that about? I lust laughed at it," Ridolphi said. "They are really into the game."
Dressed in green (one of the school's colors) and combined with Illiana's pep bad, they turn the decibel level up and turn the clock back to a time when a high school basketball game was the place to be. One kid was dressed in a green body suit with a green wig. He sort of resembled the Gumby character, but his sidekick Pokey was not there.
This is what high school basketball is about. It was homecoming and the place was packed at 6:15 p.m. You could feel the heat and energy in the gym and you wondered if some of the pipes would start sweating.
Illiana senior Laura Otte, from Highland, was wearing green alligator slippers. Not the same as designer alligator shoes, but Otte said they will do.
"They're green," she said. "We love to dress up for the games in green and cheer. We love to get loud and it is a lot of fun."
Hammond resident and senior Ryan Lanning said they like being and part of and influencing the atmosphere.
"Just fun and it's great to be a part of the 'Loud Crowd,'" Lanning said. "That's what makes this place special. You don't get a lot of big crowds at high school games as much. We get crazy. We'll do things like count the missed shots when the other team is warming up. Theirs -- not our guys."
Elliott Chapman, a senior from Dyer, wore a green and white striped "Cat in the Hat" top hat, something his brother Riley handed down to him. He said it brings everyone together, but there is a criteria.
"You have to be loud and love to cheer," Chapman said. "It is really a good time and enjoyable."
Illiana boys basketball coach Tom Roozeboom loves it and said it does give a homecourt advantage, though not Friday night.
"It is unbelievable," Roozeboom said. "For out kids, to come out on the court and see this kind of support, it pumps you up."
They are rowdy, but this is good clean fun. Illiana Christian is a fun place to be on Friday night's. Like the hat Elliott Chapman got from his brother Riley, it is a tradition.
You never know what they will do, but you know you are going to enjoy the "Loud Crowd." Even with earplugs, you can still hear them -- even outside the gym.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.