Warren Central edges No. 1 East Chicago
December 9, 2007
BY STEVE T. GORCHES Post-Tribune staff writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Speed kills, but size rules if you have it in the high school basketball ranks.
East Chicago Central has both on the roster of its Class 4A defending state champion squad.
The No. 1 Cardinals used its speed to take a halftime lead Saturday night. But when its size got in foul trouble in the second half, No. 3 Warren Central took over on its way to a 79-73 victory in the final game of the Circle City Classic Challenge of Champions at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University.
It was called the "showcase game" of the six-game event that included Lafayette Jeff and East Chicago's victim in last year's state championship North Central.
For almost three quarters it was certainly a showcase, with a back-and-forth pace.
Then East Chicago's two big men, Angel Garcia and Kawann Short, had to sit on the bench with three fouls each with 2:20 left in the third quarter. The Cardinals (2-1) were down by one at the time. Less than 50 seconds later Warren Central (3-0) was up by seven.
"Yeah, without our two big guys, our firepower underneath, they took advantage," first-year East Chicago coach Abe Brown said. "(Warren Central) brought in a smaller lineup and we weren't able to make the proper adjustments."
Those two big men exiting the game led directly to six points on back-to-back Warren possessions. On the first possession, 6-4 Joshua Jones grabbed an offensive rebound and put back with a foul for a three-point play the hard way. On the next possession, Ed Hazelett grabbed an offensive rebound for Warren and passed it out to Jones, who hit a three the long way.
It's the second straight year East Chicago has lost in the Circle City Classic, with last season's defeat coming to Pike.
"Of course we wanted to win for the guys who lost last year, but this is a great experience for us," Brown said. "It's a way for us to see what the rest of the state has got."
With the way it worked out last year, maybe the loss is OK, after all.
Garcia was playing in front of his future college coach, Memphis' John Calipari, who was sitting in the front row across from the East Chicago bench. The 6-11 senior didn't show Calipari too much before the coach left with 1:48 remaining. Garcia had five points and five rebounds before Calipari's departure, but finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
With the two big men non-factors in the final quarter, senior guard Derrell Conner led the Cardinals with 19 points. Short added 11 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in the last minute.
In the fifth game of the long day at Hinkle, the two best individual performances took place in Batesville's 73-59 victory over Brownsburg.
Alex Grimsley of Batesville and Julian Mavunga of Brownsburg went back and forth in the final period when the game was out of reach, including a crowd-pleasing dunk from each.
Mavunga edged Grimsley in scoring with 36 points. But Grimsley took home the coveted hardware as the MVP with his 34 points and nine rebounds.