ST. JOHN | If you watched Robert Ryan play basketball the nickname would make sense, Scooter. Low to the ground, quick, chopping feet and lightning-quick hands are his tools of destruction.
But his nickname has nothing to do with basketball. It came from a living room floor many years ago.
"Before I could walk I would scoot all over the room," Ryan said. "So my mom started calling me 'Scooter.' It just hung on with me."
The 5-foot-8 senior guard on Lake Central's Class 4A Northern Semistate qualifying team is new to Ryan. Very new. This is only his second year of Hoosier Hysteria.
Born on the south side of Chicago, Ryan later moved to Lansing. He played junior varsity basketball at T.F. South as a freshman, then varsity as a sophomore, where he averaged 11 points a game and was an all-conference honorable mention.
Then, the U-Haul pulled up again. He moved across the state line into Lake Central's school district.
It was a brand new world of hoops to him. Despite knowing several Indians from being teammates on the MeanStreets AAU program, it took awhile to become a Hoosier, an Indian.
"Illinois basketball is a lot more freelance, one-on-one," Ryan said. "Basketball in Indiana is a lot more fundamental. We work on the little things here to make you better."
Ryan is averaging 4.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a steal a game.
But the one steal he had last Saturday will go down in Lake Central lore. After Tyler Wideman tipped in a shot to give L.C. a 57-55 lead over Penn with three seconds left, Ryan picked off a half-court pass to keep the Kingsmen from getting off a desperation shot.
No. 8 Lake Central (21-3) will play Homestead (20-7) at Lafayette Jeff on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The winner will advance to the state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse the following Saturday.
Comfort has been the biggest difference between Ryan's junior year to his senior season.
"Most of our kids have been running our offense (motion) since the seventh grade," L.C. coach Dave Milausnic said. "It took Robert some time to pick it up. We had to teach him how to set a screen.
"But this year he's played good basketball. He's fitting in very well."
Ryan is being recruited by Albion and Langston. But right now a trip to Indianapolis is more exciting than a trip down Lake Shore Drive. Geography changes. People change.
"We've really bonded this year," Ryan said. "This year has been a lot of fun. We all want to get to the state championship game really bad. We want to get to Indianapolis."