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Boys basketball: Noll’s Larry Crisler loves baseball more than hoops

Bishop Noll's Larry Crisler comes up with steal helping close gap Andrean's lead Andrean High School February 28 2014. |

Bishop Noll's Larry Crisler comes up with a steal helping to close the gap on Andrean's lead at Andrean High School on February 28, 2014. | Jim Karczewski\Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 4, 2014 6:26AM



HAMMOND — Bishop Noll’s Larry Crisler is one of the top basketball players in Northwest Indiana, just ask his coach.

First-year Warriors’ coach Josh Bellumomini raves about the versatility of Crisler, how he can pick up his team on both sides of the floor by coming up with a huge scoring game as he did in the rematch game with Marquette, or guard the opposition’s big man in one game, then in the very next game face off against the opponent’s point guard.

To say Crisler covers the court like a center fielder would not be an overstatement. Then again, center field is his favorite position.

Yes, wrong sport, right? Well, that’s actually the right sport because Crisler, while a strong basketball player, is actually better as a baseball player.

“That’s a scary thought, is it?” Bellumomini said.

How is it known that Crisler favors the National Pastime over hoops? Because during the basketball season, the 6-foot-3 senior has been known to bring a baseball glove into the locker room.

“Just in case someone wants to play catch in the locker room,” Crisler joked.

Don’t get the kid wrong, though. With the Warriors’ basketball team having a good season and the potential to go deep in the IHSAA tournament that begins Tuesday, Crisler is focused on hoops.

But his baseball prowess has already paid the bills ... or at least the bills that come with obtaining higher education. Crisler is headed to reigning Big Ten champion Indiana on a baseball scholarship next year.

“It’s pretty hard,” Crisler said. “I want to get in baseball shape, but I’m obligated to basketball right now.”

That obligation has helped lead the Warriors to an 18-3 record while winning 11 of their last 12 games with the Class 2A sectional opener on Tuesday against Lake Station.

One of the reasons for Noll’s success in Bellumomini’s rookie coaching season is Crisler’s versatility. He leads the Warriors in points per game with just under 16, as well as assists per game with around four.

And even when he has an off game scoring wise, he finds ways to contribute.

“He helps us with his experience because he’s the only one in the locker room who can say he’s been downstate,” Bellumomini said about Crisler’s contributions to the 2011 Bishop Noll state runner-up squad. “From a skill level he excels everywhere on the court.”

And not just on offense. One of the turning points in a 59-54 win over Class 4A Michigan City last week was a testimony of his versatility.

“He guarded their 6-foot-5 college prospect center and help turn the game around even though he only scored seven points,” Bellumomini said. “And then in the very next game against Andrean (a 50-48 season-finale win) he turned around and guarded their point guard and played point for us.”

Not to say that Crisler can’t burn you offensively. For example, take Noll’s second game against Marquette, which had beaten the Warriors in overtime earlier in the season. Crisler made sure a repeat performance would not happen, scoring 36 points on 9-of-12 shooting in a 87-61 win.

So how did someone with such excellent basketball skills turn to baseball?

“My chances of making it to the major leagues are greater in baseball than in basketball,” said Crisler, who says if basketball is a 10 in his life, then basketball is a seven.

(And speaking of a perfect 10, Crisler had a 4.0 grade point average last semester).

But while a part of Crisler is waiting for baseball (and apparently baseball is also waiting on him with as many as 16 questionnaires mailed to Crisler by Major League teams, including San Diego, Atlanta, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Baltimore), he also knows that the month of March is for more than just prepping for the baseball. And if past performance is any indication, he will be ready for the basketball tournament.

“I just have to stay focused,” Crisler said. “It’s my last year playing organized basketball and I want it to make it a good one.”



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