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Saturday Morning Scorer's Table: Earl Smith Jr. gets Hall call, 21st Century's Rogers thrives off bench, Horseman hanging around and more

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Earl Smith Jr. recently received word he will be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in the 57th class.

He graduated from Gary Roosevelt in 1952, played football at Iowa, then returned home to Gary, where he worked for the city schools for 56 years. He coached basketball at Lew Wallace, Froebel, Emerson, West Side and Tolleston. He finished his career as Gary's city athletic director.

Smith Jr. was the first African-American coach at Froebel, Emerson and Lew Wallace. He won 323 games with five conference titles, three sectional and regional championships. His 1977 Emerson team won the inaugural Hall of Fame Classic tournament.

Smith Jr. coached five All-Americans -- Charles Hicks, Wallace Bryant, Frank Smith, Tellis Frank and Jerome Harmon.

Take a bow coach. You deserve this honor.

The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 57th Annual Men’s Awards Banquet will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

On the women's side, two Valparaiso players will also be inducted -- Jennifer (Cole) Davis, a 1989 grad, and Dana (Drew) Shaw, a 1990 Vikings grad will enter the Hall together.

Cole (Davis) left Valpo with career records of 1,083 points and 429 rebounds. She then went to LaSalle University, where she left as the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,875 points.

Drew (Shaw) scored 1,125 career points at Penn and Valparaiso. She then went to Toledo, where she finished with 1,919 career points and 659 assists.

Ladies, take a bow. This honor is well deserved.

The Hall of Fame also announced its 2018 Silver Anniversary team. Locals among that group are West Side teammates Kasia McClendon and Danielle McCulley.

The 17th Annual Women’s Awards Banquet is Saturday, April 28, 2018.

21st Century's spark off bench

Saturday Morning Scorer's Table: 21st Century's Christian Rogers now a spark off the bench

21st Century senior Christian Rogers was moved out of the starting lineup after the Cougars started the season 2-2. Coach Rodney Williams felt the team needed an offensive spark off the bench which is why Rogers was demoted.

Christian Rogers is a 5-foot-10 senior guard on 21st Century, the program that's advanced to two straight Class A semistates.

You would think his position in the Cougars starting lineup would be secure, locked in cement.

But when the team started off 2-2 and wasn't playing very well, coach Rodney Williams made a move. Rogers started each game thereafter on the bench.

Since then, 21st Century is 6-1.

"We didn't have much offense coming off the bench," Williams said. "So we put Christian there and he's done a nice job since."

In Thursday's 58-33 win over Hebron, Rogers scored six points with four assists and four steals.

"I think it's working," Williams said.

Horsemen still running the floor

Saturday Morning Scorer's Table: The Horsemen are still running the floor

Horace Mann closed in Gary in 2004. But the alumni association of the Horsemen supports 21st Century basketball today. Head coach Rodney Williams and athletic director Ricky Haskins both played basketball at Mann in the 1970s.

Williams is a graduate of Horace Mann, one of Gary's great high schools that closed in 2004. Assistant coach and 21st Century athletic director Ricky Haskins also graduated from Mann, where the two played basketball back in the 1970s.

So a banner from the Horace Mann Alumni group hangs inside 21st Century's gymnasium showing support for the Cougars.

"Yes, the Horsemen are still hanging around," Haskins said.

Where is Virgil Sweet?

Lake Station coach Bob Burke wasn't happy after Friday night's loss to River Forest. No, not at all.

In the 66-62 loss, the Eagles were 9 of 23 from the free-throw line, which is almost mathematically impossible.

Probably the most eye-raising stat came from star guard Dominique Smith, who was 3 of 10 from the charity stripe.

"We have a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and we lose by four and we missed 14 free throws," Burke said. "That was the game right there. If we hit our free throws we win the game."

Game of the Week

Saturday Morning Scorer's Table: Valpo's Newman earns Game of the Week honors

Valparaiso's Brandon Newman, right, had a great game on Friday night, scoring 33 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the Vikings' loss to Fort Wayne North.

Fort Wayne North lived up to its Class 4A state ranking at No. 10 by beating No. 11 Valparaiso 68-63 on Friday night.

But Vikings junior Brandon Newman continued his climb up Indiana's Mount Rushmore. He hit four 3-pointers and scored 33 points with 13 rebounds at the Marion Classic.

Newman receives the Saturday Morning Scorer's Table player of the week honor.

Congrats young man. Can't wait to see you play soon.

Saturday Morning Scorer's Table: River Forest's Jordan Higgins gets slight of hand treatment

River Forest junior Jordan Higgins had a 28.6 scoring average, which would put him at No. 4 in the state's leaders. But coach Derrick Milenkoff did not turn in the stats until after the Lake Station game on Friday. He didn't want the Eagles to know how good Higgins is.

Slight of Hand?

If River Forest boys basketball coach Derrick Milenkoff had turned in the stats of Jordan Higgins, who is averaging 28.6 points a game, into the state, the junior guard would be fourth in Indiana in scoring.

And the Region's top scorer.

But Milenkoff did not send the stats in. Not yet, anyway.

"I didn't want to put his stats in until after this game," Milenkoff said before the Lake Station game. "I didn't want them to know."

Higgins scored 23 in the win against Lake Station.


Sports Reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.

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