By Brian Peloza / file photo by Ben Fahrbach
For VYPE Magazine (Central Indiana)
INDIANAPOLIS – It was dubbed by many people as Arsenal Tech’s Trey Lyles vs. Marion’s James Blackmon Jr., two of the top candidates for the 2013-14 Indiana Mr. Basketball award.
Lyles chose to take individuality out of the matchup on Monday, Dec. 23 at the Eighth Annual Midwest Boys Basketball Showcase at John Marshall High School.
“It was just like another game,” said Lyles, a Kentucky commit. “I wasn’t going out there to do anything individually spectacular that I’m not used to doing. I just wanted to play well and do what the team needed.”
Class 4A No. 2 Tech defeated No. 9 Marion, 83-67; but the Titans held a slim 37-35 lead at halftime. Lyles took over in the second half, scoring 23 of his team-high 29 points in the final two quarters.
Tech gained a 57-44 lead after three quarters and was not seriously threatened again. Lyles’ second-half performance wasn’t done with thoughts of a looming Mr. Basketball candidacy.
“I think Trey was just focused on winning a game,” Tech coach Jason Delaney said. “He doesn’t really think about those things, because we’ve gone against some of the high-ranked players before. Trey just wants to win, and that’s the thing about him that is so great.”
Lyles scored 15 of his points in the fourth quarter, and had a handful of dunks, not just in transition, but also in half-court sets as Marion struggled matching up.
“He’s unselfish at times, and there are times where he can take over,” Delaney said. “… Just watching him out there tonight taking over a ball game is a beautiful thing to watch.”
Blackmon Jr. also scored 29 points in the loss, which was in front of a capacity, standing-room only crowd of 2,500. Many people were turned away from the game due to capacity limitations..
It was the highlighted matchup of the nine-game event, which drew one spectator who is a third top contender for Mr. Basketball, Park Tudor’s Trevon Bluiett, among several other area players.
While Lyles said he wasn’t focused on individual statistics, that doesn’t mean his coach isn’t going to make a case for his player being the best in the state.
“We believe he’s the best player in the state and he’s putting up numbers against great competition,” Delaney said. “It may not be 50 or 60 points a game, but he’s putting up great numbers – our schedule is so tough, but he’s putting up great numbers.”
Lyles is averaging 21.7 points and 13.9 rebounds per game for the 7-1 Titans, and will have plenty of opportunities to lay claim to being Mr. Basketball.
Tech, ranked 23rd nationally by MaxPreps.com, will host LaPorte La Lumiere, ranked 14th nationally, on New Year’s Day; and still have three games against ranked Class 4A teams – Hamilton Southeastern (3rd), Pike (4th) and Lake Central (8th); along with a trip to Kentucky to play Cleveland St. Villa, the fourth-ranked team in Ohio.
One matchup that will provide individual intrigue will be a game against 2A No. 1 Park Tudor on Jan. 4, pitting Lyles vs. Bluiett.
The Panthers are 5-0 and Bluiett is averaging 41 points per game, but they have yet to play a team anywhere near the caliber of Tech.
MORE OF A TEST
Shortridge second-year coach Donnie Bowling didn’t enjoy watching his team struggle in a 68-41 loss to East Chicago Central, but knows it could pay future dividends.
After a 4-1 start to the season, in which the Blue Devils had been averaging 68 points per game, they scored just 18 points in the first 22 minutes against the Cardinals. It led to a 50-18 lead for East Chicago.
“The biggest thing for us to be successful is toughness,” Bowling said. “If you watch the game they got every loose ball, they got six offensive rebounds – so we need to rebound, use our size to our advantage and keep working on fundamentals.”
Shortridge went 12-8 last year during the regular season, but Bowling wanted to strengthen his team’s schedule this year.
“The big thing is sectional and that’s why we schedule East Chicago, because we knew they would be tough and get us ready for sectional,” Bowling said. “You have to see where your deficiencies are. Our schedule was a little softer last year, so our record looked better, but you have to play some competition to get better.”
Shortridge will play Hamilton Heights in its own tournament on Friday, before meeting either Warsaw or Bloomington South. The Blue Devils also scheduled a game at Lebanon.
FUTURE STAR IN THE MAKING
While Northwest is looking for its first win of the season, first-year coach Steve Hall may have a future star on his team – sophomore point guard Brian Warren.
Trotwood (Ohio) defeated Northwest, 106-72, but Warren provided 36 points and showed aggressive play all game.
“He’s fearless, we just need to get a couple of guys to come along and join him,” Hall said. “(Warren) is a true point guard, he can shoot, he can pass, manage the game pretty well. I really see him in a couple of years being a Division-1 caliber point guard.”
Northwest is a program in transition, with previous coach Mosi Barnes now at Howe; along with Harrison Brown, a Loyola (Ill.) commitment.
“So far this season we’ve just been taking lumps and really haven’t’ been getting better, yet,” Hall said. “We have a young team, but more than being young we’re lacking intensity.”
ALSO DURING THE DAY ….
Indianapolis Marshall senior Davone Daniels, a Saint Joseph’s commitment, scored 31 points in the host Patriots’ 83-75 overtime loss. He tied the game at 61 with a 3-pointer from the corner, and scored 11 points in the third quarter, all but two of his the Patriots (2-3) total for that quarter. … Josiah Oetjen and Dante Butler each scored 15 points for Horizon Christian (9-3) in its 77-58 loss to Fort Wayne North. … Crispus Attucks (4-3) lost to Fort Wayne Luers, 80-77, despite 22 points from Devon Briggs and 17 from Isaiah Ware. …. Traders Point Christian guard Nick Rogers scored a game-high 21 points in his team’s 59-46 loss to Gary West Side. … Howe ledt a double-digit lead slip away in a 62-61 loss to East St. Louis. … Indiana University coach Tom Crean attended in the evening, along with several other college coaches, including assistants from Indiana and Purdue.