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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.

MERRILLVILLE — It was a couple of summers ago.

The young basketball player was visiting family in Arizona.

Two guys walked out onto the basketball court under the sun, so there is one thing you know for certain.

"I've never been hotter in my life," said the kid.

Andrean's Caden Helfrich was the kid on the steamy asphalt. He was working out with one of the 59ers' greatest all-time players, Shane Power.

Helfrich is the cousin of Power, a 2000 Andrean grad who led his team to the Class 3A state championship game, became an Indiana All-Star before playing for Iowa State and Mississippi State.

Power now lives in Arizona.

"He is my second cousin," Helfrich said of Power. "But I call him my Godfather."

Many older folks on Broadway could call Power the Godfather, too. But his name doesn't have the same ring for current 'Niners players.

"No one my age knows who he is," Helfrich said with a laugh. "Yeah, I felt a little pressure when I got here being related to Shane. But there's some positives, too. It makes me want to work that much harder to get better."

Helfrich didn't play much last year on varsity. He was the team's sixth man for much of this season. But after a blowout loss to Chesterton on Jan. 17, Andrean coach Brad Stangel moved No. 1 to the starting point guard position.

Everything started to change for the 59ers, who will play Marquette Catholic in Saturday's Class 2A North Judson Regional semifinal.

"Caden changed our season when we moved him to the starting point guard spot," Stangel said, which could cause some to scratch their heads.

Helfrich is averaging 3.2 points per game.

But as Hoosier Hysteria bounces into Week 2, one thing is certain. In most games the opposing stars cancel each other out. It takes one or two players off the radar to step up and lead the team to victory.

No matter who they are related to.

"He's very good at the point, he's able to handle (defensive) pressure very well," Stangel said. "And it allowed us to move some other guys into better positions for our offense."

Junior John Carrothers and senior Curtis Jones were moved off the point and consequently the 59ers started scoring more points.

Stangel remembers watching Power play at Mississippi State in younger days. Then, he married Jamie Gutowski, who was at 5959 Broadway when Power was. The connection came together in Stangel's first game last season.

Power came in and gave a fire-up speech to his former team.

"I thought that was pretty cool," Helfrich said.

Helfrich, like Power, grew up in Crown Point, before recently moving to Hebron.

While in Arizona a few years back, Helfrich worked on ball handling and coming off screens with his cuz. Along with a lot of other fundamental parts of the game.

And when Andrean beat Roosevelt (74-64) and Bishop Noll (75-52) to win the Whiting Sectional last week, another neat Region hoops story came about.

"Winning the sectional gave us all a lot of confidence," Helfrich said. "It let us all know that the hard work paid off."

The height and stat line might not be the same as Shane Power's, but it's obvious the work ethic is very similar.

It must be in the DNA.

This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

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