Boys Basketball: Fieldhouse-Merrillville league brings out the best in teams
By Anthony Nasella Post-Tribune correspondent July 1, 2013 9:52PM
Crown Point 13-year-old All-Stars Andrew Mild (left) and Ryan Bolda. | Anthony Nasella~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 3, 2013 6:33AM
MERRILLVILLE — While summer basketball leagues often serve as an outlet for teams to built chemistry for the upcoming season, they also can serve as an avenue for competitive games that preview what’s potentially to come.
The championship of the boys summer league between Bowman Academy and East Chicago Central last week at the Fieldhouse-Merrillville was no exception.
The match-up epitomized competitive summer basketball. The teams played to packed crowd well past 10 p.m., with Bowman bouncing back from a double-digit deficit in the first half and a two-point deficit with 1:22 left to pull out a thrilling 75-72 victory.
Bowman guard Raynard Perry, who is counted on as a defensive specialist, was the hero as he scored the team’s final five points to seal the victory.
“We were thrilled about the way our kids played, especially because we’ve been on the road for the past two weeks,” Bowman coach Kenya Stines. “We’ve competed at the Simeon and DePaul camp. We’re very proud of our kids; we’ve been playing good competition.
“We’ve been winning and losing, but we’re beating the teams that we need to beat right now. We’re proving to the teams in our region that we’re going to be ready this season.”
As for the competitive game against East Chicago, Stines said he got nothing but positive feedback about their program.
“Those kids can flat-out play basketball,” he said, “Myron Edwards is a special kid. They have great coaches over there. They go out and win and give it their all — and they definitely gave it their all against us. A special program.”
Stines said his team loves to play at the Fieldhouse, where Bowman sometimes practices.
“This is such a great place to play,” he said. “It’s nice to have in our area not far from us.”
East Chicago also received contributions from Jeremiah Ochoa, the team’s its top rebound and assist leader; and newcomer Ricky Redus, a football player who provided inside presence.
“It starts with Myron Edwards and Jeremiah Ochoa,” said East Chicago coach Anton Williams, who coached the championship game and the JV team during the basketball season. “We go as they go. We also have two all-state football players — our cutters and slashers — who are tough guys.
“And Ricky is just a mean kid. We need that kind of guy to do the dirty work. He doesn’t mind rebounding. He’s very coachable.”
Williams said he commended the kids on being flexible and yet very competitive to the very end in all games.
“We had a great summer,” he said. “The kids played hard and competed to the very end. That’s what we want them to do. As long as our guys are doing what we’re asking from them, we’re going to have fun. Myron is very talented, and Jeremiah leads us in rebounds and assists. He’s a tough guy who gets the ball up the court.
“We played some great teams: Bowman, Lew Wallace, Chesterton, 21st Century and Gary Lighthouse. It was a great atmosphere. It’s 10:45 at night and it’s a packed house. When Bowman and East Chicago get together, it’s always a great game. Neither team lets up. It’s a knockout brawl until the end. That’s what we got.”
Fieldhouse general manager John Stroia said he was pleased the turnout (14 varsity teams) was the biggest in the league’s five-year history.
“We had some great basketball out there,” Stroia said. “It’s a great atmosphere from the standpoint of this time of year, where coaches can get a feel for their team.”