ST. JOHN | The world is going to end on Dec. 21 of this year — or so some have claimed. Whether you believe this or not is your call, but evidence suggests the eternal lights really could go out in less than two weeks:
Former Merrillville coach Jim East said he will root for Crown Point when the Bulldogs host the Pirates on Dec. 21.
Yep, the guy who coached Merrillville for 31 years and became a Hall of Fame coach still wears purple pajamas to bed will be rooting for Crown Point.
Maybe the Mayans were right?
“Blood is thicker than anything else,” East said.
Blake Bonin, the reason East will be wearing red soon, is a freshman point guard at Crown Point. He is also East's grandson. Blake was a Merrillville ball boy back in the day.
Blake got a baby photo with Curtis Granderson when Blake's father, Leo Bonin, coached at T.F. South. Coach Leo was on the bench with his father-in-law in 1995 when the Pirates played in the state championship game.
“(Blake) was forced to play basketball,” Leo said before Friday night's C.P. game at Lake Central. “He was in the gym almost every day.”
At 5-foot-7, generously, Bonin looks like the little brother of every varsity player. But for the third game in a row, the pint-sized super sub dressed and played varsity.
Last Friday he wasn't told until late that he would be dressing varsity. His mother, Kara (East) Bonin, looked at her son sitting at the end of the bench against the Slicers.
“I thought he looked so cute,” said Kara, the principal at Salk Elementary School, in Merrillville. “I wanted to take a picture.”
Bonin played the last six minutes of the game and went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in preserving the Bulldogs' win.
“It was fun, exciting,” said Bonin after Friday's 65-44 loss to the Indians, where he only played four minutes. “They're all bigger than me. I just have to go out there and play, do my thing.”
Bonin is going to be a very good varsity player. He is a very good junior varsity player now. He's so good he has his grandfather changing colors.
“It was fun growing up in my family,” Bonin said. “I was always in the gym.”
Crown Point coach Clint Swan believes in his young players — all of them — but he doesn't want that used as an excuse. The unshaven Bulldogs are only going to get better. C.P.'s freshmen class is very good.
Bonin leads the way.
“Blake controls his own destiny,” Swan said. “He's gotten where he is through a ton of hard work. Whatever comes his way, he deserves it. He's playing with (varsity) because of the position he plays.
“He has the chance to be a very good player.”
This kid and this program is going to be a lot of fun to watch over the next four years.
That is, of course, unless the Mayans are right.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.