Try 1 month for 99¢

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.

The Region has a long and wonderful boys basketball history.

Teams like the 1970 E.C. Roosevelt and 1971 E.C. Washington squads reside historically on Hoosier Hysteria's Mount Rushmore. These were teams most in November knew they would likely cut down the nets in Indianapolis.

Then, there is a second group of Region greats. Teams that weren't even expected to win their sectional and somehow made magic in March.

The first is Hammond Tech, whose Tigers won the 1940 state crown.

The second is Bishop Noll's 1988 squad. This talented team won the sectional at East Chicago, the regional in Gary and the semistate at Mackey Arena at Purdue.

Had they not run into Shawn Kemp and his Concord team in the state semifinals, who knows what could've happened.

Up here the team was known as the Killer Bs, giving honor to such greats as Jamar Banks, Kevin Bobos and Jim Bradtke.

But down in Indianapolis, nobody knew who these Warriors were. There was great expectations that the four top-ranked teams in the state — Concord, Muncie Central, Bedford North Lawrence and Kokomo -- were locks to play for the big trophy.

Then, out of nowhere, Jack Gabor's team upset Kokomo in the semistate championship causing the following headline to be splashed across the newspapers in Central Indiana "1, 2, 3 and who?"

"Thirty years is a long time," Gabor said. "I've been coaching for a long time. It's amazing that this happened 30 years ago. Times flies. It seems like yesterday we went down there."

On Saturday night at Bishop Noll, Warriors Nation is being asked to come back and honor this team, this moment, during halftime of the Whiting game. The Oilers are coached by Aaron Mercer, who was on this '88 team.

Other players who are going to be honored are Chris Adzia, Terry Austin, Eric Finke, Russ Marcinek, Nykee McCoy, Skip McCoy, Adam Patai, Rob Radziwiecki, Tim Reed and Damon Scheidt.

Gabor was assisted by Ron Luketic, Bill Keller, Rich Matis and Rick Tolin.

If you can, you should go and celebrate this team and honor the remarkable story that they wrote, one dribble at a time.

Noll went 15-5 during the regular season. Thought they went 2-2 over their last four games. They beat the host Cardinals 65-43 in the sectional championship game, a team Noll defeated by three earlier in the season.

In the regional semifinal, they played Ron Heflin's Roosevelt team, which had advanced to the Final Four the year before. A tough 56-51 win moved them on. In the final a tough Hammond team awaited and Skip McCoy's 15-footer in the final seconds gave this team a 65-64 white-knuckle championship.

In the semistate semifinal, Brownsburg was next in line. And Jamar Banks' jumper from the right elbow gave the Warriors a 58-56 win. Few believed they had a chance against Kokomo, but a 53-40 win sent the area into hoops hysteria.

"It was crazy, we had a decent team, 15-5," Gabor remembered. "Remember, this was in the one-class system. Our fans got hepped up over just winning the sectional. And it kept rolling after that.

"No one gave us a chance at the regional. Semistate, Kokomo. No way. That's what people were saying."

+2 
STEVE HANLON: 1, 2, 3 and who?

Concord's Shawn Kemp drives against Bishop Noll's Terry Austin with Jim Bradtke in the background in the 1988 boys basketball state semifinal. The Warriors were clear underdogs as they shocked Indiana by making it to Indianapolis. The team will be honored at Saturday night's home game against Whiting.

Noll lost to Condord 66-50. Kemp would go on to be six-time NBA All-Star and broke about 2,000 rims with dunks that were noticed on the Richter scale.

"He was a man against boys," Gabor said of Kemp. "We gave it our all but he was just too much."

Gabor tried out for the basketball team at Clark but got cut by coach Larry Liddle, who is a member of the Indiana Basketball's Hall of Fame. Gabor went to Indiana University and became a manager and grad assistant for Bobby Knight.

That's how this Noll team averaged 71 points a game and only allowed 53.

"These kids did it the blue-collar way," Gabor said of his 1987-88 team. "They achieved. They stuck with it. They never quit. They kept working and working and working."

There will be smiles and tears and hand claps and cheers when this team is honored Saturday night. These now grown men deserve everything they get from their fans.

The story they wrote is remarkable. Few such tales survive the fog of history.

"I love everything about these kids," Gabor said.

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

0
0
0
0
0