Lakeshore Classic returns to Genesis Center
By Tommy Williams Post-Tribune correspondent November 22, 2012 11:01PM
Updated: November 22, 2012 11:04PM
GARY — This has been a very busy past few months for the Gary Chamber of Commerce, which translates into being a very busy period for it’s president Chuck Hughes.
The Chamber has coordinated a star-studded lineup of visitors to Gary, including the four-day festivities with Gary-born entertainer Michael Jackson’s family, and another weeks later with two-time Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabrielle Douglas.
Hughes isn’t complaining, of course, but there is a negative side to all of this: All of the above got in the way of his preparation for his annual Lakeshore Classic basketball weekend. But just like a good point guard (which Hughes was back in the day at Roosevelt), nothing gets you out of a jam better than a good cross-over dribble.
Even if it means crossing over state lines.
“We got caught up in a situation in which every area team had their schedules set, but we were fortunate to get some good matchups from teams from Chicago and Michigan City,” Hughes said.
Actually, Hughes did get one college region team on the schedule of the two-day event that begins Friday night at the Genesis Convention Center.
Indiana University Northwest will make its second straight appearance to the Classic with a matchup against Roosevelt University of Chicago.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of the Lakeshore Classic. It’s a great event,” said IUN basketball coach Jason Hawkins. “Being a university in the city of Gary, it’s great to be a part of something involving the city. I feel its our job to give the city something to cheer about as well as being a positive influence.”
The Classic begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Michigan City Marquette facing Chicago Robeson. Saturday night also features a high school doubleheader — Olive-Harvey Prep taking on Innovation High and Indianapolis Tech versus Chicago’s Farragut Academy.
But as Hughes has said about all four previous Classic weekends, the event means more than just wins and losses.
“We’re not hosting a basketball tournament, we’re hosting an event that brings people into the community,” Hughes said. “We want to expose the public to great high school and college players and teams but we want to bring in people to Gary, which contributes to commerce at every level.”
Hughes says the work is already in progress for more area teams to be a part of next year’s Classic (Purdue Calumet is on Hughes’ radar, along with other area high school teams), but he says he expects to have a good run this weekend.
“We’re going to put on a first-rate event,” Hughes said. “We think fans will have a chance to see teams they normally would not see, but for sure we will work hard next season to make sure the Classic will continue to be at a level we’re all happy with.”