STEVE HANLON: Nothing wrong about looking back

E.C. Central girls basketball coach Eric Kundich said he wore his Marvin Rea sweater for Friday night's game against Martinsville in the Hall of Fame Classic, hoping that the recently deceased Lighthouse boys basketball coach would be thought of by the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Steve Hanlon, The Times

NEW CASTLE — There's a perception that teenagers think history started three days ago.

But such a notion was discarded Thursday at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame by a group of young ladies from East Chicago.

An invitation to the Hall of Fame Classic is an honor, and every Cardinal having fun in New Castle thoroughly understood that. But there was more, much more, after walking through the hall that honors names like Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Shawn Kemp and John Wooden.

I guess on this day Steve Alford should be mentioned. When in Rome?

But the names of LaTaunya Pollard and E'Twaun Moore needed to spoken of, as well.

"The kids really enjoyed going through the Hall of Fame," E.C. coach Eric Kundich said after his team's 53-51 loss to Zionsville in Friday morning's game. "I wasn't sure if they would. We had a four-hour bus ride, then an hour-and-a-half practice before we went over there.

"But when they saw the area dedicated to East Chicago, it really got them excited."

Junior center Taiyanna Jackson saw some old uniforms of the E.C. Roosevelt Rough Riders with classic purple and checks on them. Suddenly, old school rushed into today.

"Coach, why don't we wear these?" Jackson asked.

Zariah Frierson loved learning about Hoosier Hysteria's history, a time when backboards weren't used. Fans used to swat at shots going to the hoop. That was how the backboard was invented, they were told.

Some crazy old Hoosiers actually brought brooms to block shots back in the day.

"Imagine that, bringing brooms to a basketball game," E.C.'s Nia Hurt said with a laugh.

The girls also laughed about looking at old basketball from a century or more ago.

"They looked like footballs," Tiara Jackson said.

"They were playing basketball with footballs," Hurt laughed.

Kundich was like a kid in the candy store walking around the Hall. He said it brought back his playing days at Andrean, playing in front of packed houses just crazy about high school basketball in this state.

"I am sure my girls are enjoying high school basketball as much as I did, at least I hope they do," he said. "It's just a great thing to be a part of, it really is. We lost a tough game, but that isn't going to take away from this experience at all."

Senior guard Jenasae Bishop was outstanding in the semifinal, scoring 26 points and was unstoppable for much of the game. When you're in the mix for postseason honors, playing this way in front of this crowd means a lot.

"I love Indiana basketball," Kundich said. "If Jenasae was playing in any other state I think she probably wouldn't have come back this season. She just would've rested her (ACL) injury."

Bishop also talked about how exciting the Hall of Fame was. All the Cardinals were moved by Pollard's "hand" being on a basketball inside the hollowed walls.

"The East Chicago exhibit was really cool. Imagine that our city has a place of its own down here. That's pretty awesome."

Like I wrote several months ago, these young ladies belonged playing in this event, and it's great that they fully took in all there was to see.

Hoop it up, girls.

This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

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Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.