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Region Strong NWI vs. Indianapolis All-Star Games - Boys

Covenant Christian's Chris Beezhold, center, tries to grab possession of the ball against Indianapolis during the Region Strong All-Star Games on Saturday at Calumet High School.

GARY — Basketball is among Chris Beezhold's passions.

So are music and his faith.

The Covenant Christian senior had the opportunity to combine elements of each at Saturday's Circle of Men Athletics Region Strong All-Star Game.

"It's a great organization," Beezhold said. "I love their message. They're trying to unite the Region from a God-focused standpoint."

Beezhold had to do some juggling in order to make it to Calumet High School on Saturday. He is involved in the school musical, "Oklahoma", at Covenant Christian and had to get the OK from the program director to miss a practice in order to attend.

"I wasn't sure I'd be able to do this," Beezhold said. "He was flexible enough. He recognized the opportunity for me to play here was good to do, too."

When the teams had a recent meet and greet, the subject of Beezhold's musical abilities — he also came up with the game organizers and they offered him the chance to sing the national anthem.

"They said, 'Do you want to do it, do you think you can do it?'" he said. "Actually, it's the first time I've done it in front of a crowd. I guess it sounded good. Nobody was booing."

On top of singing and playing, Beezhold, who will study civil engineering at Purdue, won the dunk contest before the girls game. While an all-star game isn't at all conducive to a low post player's style, he didn't have any issues with a lack of touches.

"The last couple weeks, I've made some new friends," Beezhold said. "It was great to have this opportunity. I could see the skill in practice. There were a lot of talented players here and it was good to be able to work with them."

That group included 21st Century's DeAndre Gholston, whose Cougars lost in the Class A regional to the same Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian team that knocked out the Knights. Gholston harbored hopes of making the Indiana All-Star team, but he was still happy to have three all-star events on his schedule.

"I was really disappointed," Gholston said. "I went home sad, but I've still got basketball to keep doing, so I let it go. I'm just going to keep playing hard."

Being on the same team afforded Lake Central's Lauren Ladowski, Lauren Smolen and Rachael Robards the chance to share the floor again, if not in the Indians blue.

"We've played together so long, it's felt good to have that feeling one last time in a real game," Robards said.

Ladowski is headed to Illinois-Springfield, while Smolen (Indiana Northwest) and Robards (IU South Bend) will be facing each other twice a season in college.

"We thought our regional game would be our last time together but it's still very bittersweet," Ladowski said.

Organizer Leroy Cooper Jr. said the crowd, an estimated 250, was an improvement over last year and look to make continued strides with the event.

"We spoke with the parents and got the parents' commitments instead of talking to the kids," Cooper said. "I was really pleased with everything, the staff. It ran on schedule. We want to keep getting the organization name and everything we do out there. (Basketball)'s a great way to build fellowship."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at james.peters@nwi.com.

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Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.