ST. JOHN | The pep band was jamming, filling Lake Central's gymnasium with pulse-pounding music. These kids are good. Real good.
Amazingly, L.C.'s parking lot had a long line of cars pulling in at 6 p.m. Wednesday. More than 1,500 fans showed up for a pep rally. If the house is rock'n, don't bother knock'n, just come on in.
Is this 1954?
Remember, this is Spring Break in St. John. Many students and families had headed south for a place where Global Warming has a better grip than up here. Maybe they didn't expect the magic that a group of young men have produced.
Well, everyone in Dyer, St. John and Schererville is believing now. Your Lake Central Indians are playing in the Class 4A state championship game Saturday.
So, when L.C. coach Dave Milausnic picked up the microphone and became a cheerleader, the fans in blue stood up. They got loud. Real loud.
One side of the gym yelled, "We are," while the other side screamed, "L.C." This went on for several minutes. You could see and feel the appreciation on the Indians' faces.
Is this 1964?
Athletic director Tony Bartolomeo opened the festivities. Later, he said the IHSAA gave the school 2,400 tickets. By now, they're probably gone. Over 2,000 were sold by Wednesday night.
You can likely still get tickets in Indy, but you'll have to find a scalper or hope there are tickets left at the door. What's next, a high school basketball ticket lottery?
Is this 1974?
The "Voice of Lake Central basketball," Jeff Sherman was next. He introduced the players, coaches and staff. The mike eventually got to Milausnic.
He introduced some super fans. Carol Peyton, wife of coach Tom Peyton, was there. Her husband coached L.C. to its first sectional championship in 1970. He introduced Shirley Harold, a long-time supporter.
They were there in 1984 when L.C. made it to the state Final Four.
Then, the point guard of that team, Chris Kostouros, took the stage. Some humor took over. Kostouros brought his letterman's jacket. He wondered if he could get it on, again. Tyler Wideman helped with the effort. It fit. Kind of.
Is this 1984?
"Go get it, go get that net," Kostouros told the players. "No one in Indianapolis is giving you a chance. Everyone is saying you're big underdogs. But believe in yourself. Play your game.
"Hoosier Hysteria was born of great upsets."
Is this 1994?
E.C. Washington was a massive underdog in 1960. The Senators beat Muncie Central, 75-59. West Side was a big 'dog against Indianapolis Pike in 2002. The Cougars won 58-55.
And E.C. Central was a bigger 'dog against Indianapolis North Central in 2007. The Cards won 87-83.
Is this 2004?
"I think you can do it," Kostouros said in a loud voice, which was echoed by a gym full of louder voices.
The T-shirts that exclaimed, "We're not done yet" were being sold like elephant ears at the county fair. The pep band played the team from "Rocky", a perfect tune for this week.
The table is set. The age-old theme of a community absolutely embracing a high school team has happened again. It never gets old, does it?
Is this 2014? Yes it is.