Indiana Premier hoops team dominant against older competition

2012-12-03T22:00:00Z Indiana Premier hoops team dominant against older competitionJohn Burbridge, (219) 933-3371

Though they were all incoming freshmen, on the basketball court they were the ones initiating the action.

"We mainly played against sophomore and junior-aged teams, but we would still win by around 15 or 16 points per game," said Lake Central Sports Hall of Famer Bill Smith, who coached the Indiana Premier boys basketball team.

During the past offseason, the team compiled a 33-2 record, which included a pair of league championships at the Fieldhouse-Merrillville. Both of the team's losses came against Illinois teams, and one was in overtime.

The eight-man team was represented by six schools. They included Crown Point (Grant Gelon and coach's son Skyler Smith), Lake Central (Gage Ray and Frank Dijak), Griffith (Anthony Quientero), Lowell (Hayden Monix), Valparaiso (Conner Tenhove) and South Newton (Jarrett Hammel).

"Our personnel worked well together," Smith said. "And we had the perfect number of players.

"All of these guys have started on their AAU and middle school teams, so you don't want to sit any of them for a long period of time."

Smith says his team excels in the uptempo game, and plays unselfishly.

"They really share the ball, and any one of them is a threat to lead all scorers in any single game," Smith said.

Smith said he hopes to keep the team together every offseason throughout their high school careers.

"That's what this is really about: a tune-up for high school," Smith said. "We try to keep it simple; we use help-side defense and on offense we run simple motion. We'll let the high school coaches teach them the more complicated stuff."

Though Smith has seen the prominence of AAU grow exponentially throughout the years, he believes that it should never supersede prep basketball.

"I tell my kids the high school experience is what they'll more likely look back at," he said.


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