INDIANAPOLIS | Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean walked into Indianapolis Marshall High School with one key thing on his mind Saturday afternoon.
The Hoosiers' skipper wanted to get a bird's-eye view of E.C. Central's Hyron Edwards.
The Cardinals were playing Indianapolis Broad Ripple in the IPSAC/Midwest Showcase on the east-side of town.
But it's possible Crean left the gym with some notes of another E.C. youngster, as freshman Damien Jefferson played extremely well in the Cards' 59-48 loss to the much-taller Rockets.
Jefferson, a 6-foot-4 swing player, scored 12 points with nine rebounds and four steals. Not bad for a young man who was playing middle school ball last winter.
“I saw him over there,” Jefferson said of Crean. “It's kind of exciting to see him and other Big Ten coaches in the gym watching everyone play. I played with (SYF Players) in the summer and a lot of college coaches watched us. But it's still exciting.
“We struggled today. I hate losing. Every time I step on the floor I want to do something to help our team win.”
E.C.'s Abe Brown was frustrated as his Cardinals' offense went into deep-winter hibernation for much of the game. Down 17-13 after the first quarter, East Chicago scored five points the next eight minutes.
The Cardinals (2-4) trailed by nine at the half.
“We gotta put the ball in the hole, that's the bottom line,” Brown said. “We missed so many free throws. That's our offense right there.”
The Cardinals, losers of three straight, missed 15 free throws. Kenneth Lloyd was 0-for-9 from the stripe.
Edwards, who had a team-high 15 points and four assists, is one of the Hoosiers' prized recruits in the class.
“Honestly, it's not very exciting,” Edwards said of Crean being there. “He's seen me play before. I was more concerned with what we were doing on the floor. We couldn't buy a bucket.”
Edwards scored six points in the first quarter, only got two free throws in the middle 16 minutes, before getting seven in the fourth. But it was too late by then. Jefferson hit two 3s in the second half which opened some floor for Edwards.
Once these two get comfortable together, the Cards' offense will improve.
“Once Damien hit that first 3 the defense had to respect him,” Edwards said. “That opened some things up for me. I got some space. But we can't wait until the fourth quarter to get it going.”