HAMMOND | Fear and violence took Ray Tucker out of Northwest Indiana when he was 5. His mother moved him to Minnesota because of the danger they felt in their Gary neighborhood.
But it was love and dedication that brought Tucker back to the area when he was in eighth grade.
"My grandma was sick," Tucker said. "We wanted to be here with her."
Tucker, a 5-foot-6 senior guard on Bishop Noll's Class 2A semistate-bound team, had planned to go to Andrean, he said. And how he ended up in north Hammond is still sort of unclear.
"I came here," Tucker said. "I don't know why."
Warriors' coach Drew Trost is happy that Tucker's confusion four years ago put the Tucker name on the roster.
As No. 2-ranked Noll (25-0) takes on No. 3 Tipton (24-2) at Huntington North on Saturday at Noon, Tucker's play off the bench will be extremely important for the Warriors.
"Ray is a huge spark-plug for us," Trost said. "He comes in and plays very good defense and we're going to need that against Tipton's guards. They have some very good shooters and we have to stay in front of them and in their face.
"We can not let them start hitting a bunch of 3s."
In 2008, the last time Noll won a sectional title, Tucker was a freshman. And he was the last player cut from the postseason roster. He still practiced with the team, but his name was not on the state roster.
"What we've done this year has been great, it's really felt good," Tucker said. "Because I've been a part of it this time. I feel like I've contributed to what we're doing."
Tucker said he felt like the Warriors would be good this year. But being one game away from the state championship? Those thoughts didn't enter Tucker's mind until last summer.
That's when Adonis Filer arrived from Chicago.
"He can do it all," Tucker said.
Tucker plans to leave everything out on the floor on Saturday. Getting to Indianapolis would be a dream come true. Doing his part is big. Very big.
"Ray has turned into a pretty good point guard for us," Trost said. "He goes up against our No. 1 defense every day in practice. He handles the ball very well against a zone."
When his prep days are done, Tucker wants to study criminal justice so he can do what his grandfather did, be an agent with the FBI.
But first is Tipton. That is most important this week.
"When I get in the game I have to bring energy," Tucker said. "That is my job. And play defense. That's my job."