Splash fall in semifinals
By Josh LIchtenfeld Post-Tribune correspondent June 23, 2012 10:48PM
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:58AM
GARY — In the growing rivalry between the Splash and the Kankakee County Soldiers, there’s no love lost when the playoffs roll around.
Before Saturday night’s semifinals of the Independent Basketball Association playoffs at the Genesis Center, the Splash already had been twice knocked out of previous playoffs by the club that was previously owned and coached by Gary coach Jay Bradford and is now under the leadership of his younger brother, Barry Bradford.
And once again, the host Splash were eliminated, this time in a 123-113 loss.
“They just got off to a quick start,” said Robert Eldridge, who led Gary (10-7) with 30 points. “We had to fight, but it came up late.”
With the IBA continuing to evolve — the spring season marks the second season and first full year of action — the Splash didn’t face the club out of Illinois in the regular season, the first time that’s happened.
Regardless of the scenario, though, it took very little time for Kankakee’s Stan Chismark to reestablish himself. By the end of the first quarter, Chismark (who led all scorers with 39 points), swished three of his six total 3-pointers to give the Soldiers a commanding 28-16 lead. And as the Soldiers continued to take advantage (including a 21-of-29 showing at the charity stripe), the Splash never could gain traction (shooting 53 percent). By the end of the third, Kankakee’s lead swelled to 90-65.
“You’ve just got to keep going and getting better,” Eldridge simply said.
The Soldiers’ lead never fell below double digits, but players such as Eldridge continued to battle deep into the fourth. In the last minute of play, he sank both a trey and the Splash’s final 2-pointer.
“Nobody on our team stops fighting, we’re a team that’s going to fight until the end,” said the Gary native. “It’s Gary, Indiana, basketball, there will never be ‘quit’ in us.”
Marcus Jackson followed with 14 points for Gary while both Sean Smith and Ray Howard had 12.