There was a moment in Westville's recent game at Culver when coach Rob Walker knew Shawn Gerron had officially arrived as a point guard.
"They were running like four defenses at us; he recognized it and just started to change plays," Walker said. "I've never had a guy like that. That was very mature. I pulled him over and told him to keep doing that. He knows what defense is coming and he can see it quicker than I can from the bench."
The Blackhawks won 59-52, a high point in a six-game run of wins that reflects the team's growth as well and Gerron's.
"It was kind of hard at the start," he said. "We didn't have a lot of experience. As we went on, we watched film and learned the tempo of the varsity game compared to (junior varsity). We'd make a turnover and we'd all have our heads down. Now we're picking our heads up and continuing on to the next play. Everybody's become more defensive-minded. Coach is stressing it every day in practice. That's been the key to our streak."
Westville graduated its entire starting lineup from 2011-12. Gerron, who played at Michigan City as a freshman, was one of a few underclassmen to see floor time, subbing in at the point. The sophomore apprenticeship served him well.
"Last year showed me the key aspects of varsity basketball, playing smart, seeing the floor," Gerron said. "I learned a lot from the other players on the team. Coach kept telling me the whole summer that I was going to be the go-to guy. It's harder. Every team's expecting to pressure the point guard because they know you're the leader of the team. To me, it's pretty easy now that I know the aspects of it."
Gerron sharpened his ball handling, footwork and mid-range game in the offseason, training with Ron Gaston at Temple Total Fitness in Michigan City. A big fan of Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings, he studies college and NBA point guards to learn how they control the floor without a lot of talking.
"He's really found his niche here," Walker said. "He's a very athletic guy. He can really get up and is smart about rebounding. Teams have problems matching up with his quickness. He'll slow down, then just explode. Last year, he didn't look to score. Now he's driving really well. He's got moves around the basket and he's really improved his outside touch. He's a guy we look for at the end of the game."
While Gerron tops Westville in scoring (15.8 ppg), Walker believes his biggest improvement has been his ability to recognize double teams and find an open teammate.
"I'm left-handed, so teams try to force me right, not knowing I'd rather drive right," Gerron said. "I prefer driving. If teams collapse, I'm able to pull up for a jumper or kick it to our shooters. We've got wonderful shooters. It really opens up the offense."
Slightly-built at 5-foot-9, Gerron still has some filling out to do. He comes from a football background with two older brothers and a dad who are all over 6-foot tall.
"I have great brothers who always strive to keep me on the right path," Gerron said.
That path is one he hopes will take him to college basketball in 2014. Right now, Gerron just wants to keep the Blackhawks rolling into the postseason.
"The second half of the season, I think we're really showing our true colors, that we're capable of playing with a lot of teams," Walker said.