CEDAR LAKE — Bishop Noll has a great boys basketball tradition. Almost money in the bank.

But the debit card didn't have enough funds to buy a cup of coffee a few weeks ago.

Two last-second losses and a very tough schedule for a Class 2A school had Josh Belluomini's team with a four-game losing streak over the holidays.

Blue and gold egg nog anyone?

"This was huge," Noll junior Brandon Scott said after the Warriors earned a white-knuckle 55-54 win over undefeated and Times No. 3 Hanover Central.

Scott had 20 points and 15 rebounds leading a surging Noll team that has now won two in a row. The 6-foot-4 shooter can knock downs 3s like nothing.

But unlike many of today's shooters, Scott doesn't jump. He creates space and fires a set shot. It is without question money in the bank.

"Brandon's as good of a shooter as Roman Penn," Belluomini said of the former Warriors star who is now doing great things at Sienna.

And that's saying something.

Scott grew up and lived on the South Side of Chicago. His freshman year at Chicago Corliss he averaged 10 points and beefed up to 18.3 points per game by his sophomore year.

His brother, Frederick Scott, played for a stretch at E.C. Central, before moving back to play at Simeon at the Windy City. So he wasn't completely lost when his parents moved to Munster over the summer.

But he wasn't sure where he would attend and play high school ball.

"I enrolled at Bishop Noll two days before school started," Scott said.

Belluomini knew he had a shooter the first time he saw Scott in the gym. The defense, fundamentals and rebounding are works in progress.

His 15 boards against a small Wildcats team is a step in the right direction.

"I know how Bryon feels," Belluomini said of Hanover coach Bryon Clouse's roster this year. "I had a team like his two years ago. All guards."

This game was ugly, exciting, awful and awesome all at the same time. Things like this happen over a long, cold winter's season: it isn't always a highlight video.

Still, in all of that, the Wildcats' Kole Popko's 10-foot jumper from the side rolled around three times in the last five seconds before coming out for the monster upset.

"We knew we could get the win," Scott said. "We had already lost two games like this but our defense, heart and rebounding got us this win. And we played like a family."

And speaking of the Noll Nation, on Jan. 20 they will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1988 Final Four basketball team, playing against Whiting which is coached by former member of that team: Aaron Mercer.

Be there. Or be square. It was a great Region team.

As great as Friday night was, there is still work to do.

"Brandon is very raw fundamentally," Belluomini said. "He didn't start (Friday night) and there's a reason why. Being new to the program he's been very respectful and has been a great teammate.

"We had a problem with chemistry last year at the end of the season."

His coach is sure that Scott will play college ball. It's just going to take more work in the gym.

"He's a hell of a shooter," Belluomini said moments after the monster win. And he was right.

This adds more mayhem to March. Just what Class 2A Sectional 33 needs: a good team trending in the right direction.

Whiting's Memorial Gymnasium might want to add some bleachers by then. And if you do I'll add you guys to the top gyms in the Region.

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


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.