It's always fun to witness the reactions of others when they witness a game at storied North Side Gym for the first time, especially if it's a postseason game or an Elkhart Central vs. Elkhart Memorial game.

Often, those reactions are best when coming from little kids or basketball tenderfoots.

Terry Smith is neither.

Yet he seemed genuinely numbed by the experience after coaching the Blue Blazers to a 62-57 victory over the Crimson Chargers in Friday's crosstown clash.

"Phenomenal atmosphere," Smith said as he leaned against a hallway wall afterwards. "Just a great place to play. It's Indiana basketball, and I'm just blessed to be a part of it."

How blessed?

"I've been doing this for a long time," said Smith, whose coaching journey has spanned all levels from high school to pro, primarily in Michigan and Florida, "and I've had so many great experiences, but that was a highlight for for me out of 33 years. It's a great rivalry, and I've heard a lot about it. I'm thrilled I got to experience it."

He not only got to experience it, but won right away in it.

Smith became the first Blazer coach among the last four, and just second in the last eight, to come out victorious in his first try against the Crimson Chargers.

His team snapped Memorial's string of Longfellow Trophy victories at a record-tying five.

"We tried to practice (with) the noise," Smith said after a crowd estimated at 4,000 turned out, "but the guys couldn't ever hear me. But that's OK, it's what it's supposed to be like. I thought the kids on both teams played hard, and man, Memorial never quit. They did a great job coming back."

Central led 52-27 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but the Chargers scrapped to within six points at 15 seconds left and to the final margin on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Now the Blazers, who are off to just their second 2-0 start in the last 14 years, must quickly turn their attention to their Northern Indiana Conference opener as they head to South Bend Adams (2-1) Tuesday.

A 3-0 beginning would be the program's first in 14 years, but the Eagles feature an offense that coach Milt Cooper has said may be better than that of his 22-3 club four years ago.

Adams is coming off a 64-63 road loss against Fort Wayne Northrop, but won its opener 75-66 at state-ranked Carroll and followed by handling Plymouth 72-54.

Junior Division I prospect Walter Elllis, son of ex-Notre Dame great LaPhonso Ellis, is averaging 22 points for the Eagles. Michael Green's at 18.3 and Kyreece Parker 12.7.

As for Central's first two games, they've certainly been chock full of patterns.

Of note, the Blazers have yet to trail this season, with the only tie scores being 55-55 in their 57-55 victory at Northridge and 2-2 against Memorial.

In each game, Central survived a comeback bid after leading by at least a dozen points in the second half. In each game, the Blazers ruled the boards (30-16 against Northridge, 44-29 against Memorial). In each game, they overcame 18 turnovers and finished at least minus-4 on turnovers.

They've also overcome some free throw shooting that must, and will, improve, standing just 19-of-39 at the line.

BETHANY BOOM

A two-game winning streak and a 2-2 record may sound modest, but it's Bethany Christian's first two-game victory streak in almost five years and the first time the Bruins are at .500 since that same 2011-12 season.

Junior Seth Brenneman poured in 28 points Saturday as Bethany, under first-year coach Ryan Gingerich, beat Prairie Heights 54-47, four days after winning 52-40 at Lakeland Christian.

Next up, the Bruins host Lakeland on Saturday. A win would put them over .500 for the first time since 2010-11.

Anthony Anderson is The Elkhart Truth's sports editor. Contact him at aanderson@elkharttruth.com. Follow on Twitter at @AnthonyAnders11.

BOYS BASKETBALL

AREA RECORDS

Team`W-L`Off`Def

Central`2-0`59.5`56.0

NorthWood`1-0`59.0`43.0

Fairfield`2-1`47.5`45.0

Goshen`2-1`53.3/51/0

Bethany`2-2`40.3`46.3

Concord`2-2`43.5`56.3

ECA`1-1`52.0`50.0

Memorial`1-2`57.0`55.7

Jimtown`0-1`53.0`62.0

Penn`0-2`57.0`69.0

Northridge`0-3`53.3`66.3

THIS WEEK'S GAMES

Tuesday

* Elkhart Central (2-0) at SB Adams (2-1)

* Jimtown (0-1) at SB Washington (0-1)

* Fairfield (2-1) at Lakeland (0-2)

* SB Clay (1-0) at Penn (0-2)

* Prairie Heights (0-4) at Elkhart Christian (1-1)

Thursday

* Westview (3-0) at NorthWood (1-0)

* Goshen (2-1) at Fremont (2-1)

Friday

* Glenn (0-2 before Bremen Tuesday) vs. Elkhart Central at North Side Gym (girl/boy varsity DH)

* LaPorte (2-0) at Elkhart Memorial (1-2) (on Memorial campus)

* Penn at Concord (2-2)

* New Prairie (1-2) at Jimtown

* Elkhart Christian vs. FW Blackhawk (2-1) at Grace College, 8 p.m.

Saturday

* Penn vs. Elkhart Memorial at North Side Gym

* Argos (2-1 before LaVille Tuesday) at Jimtown

* NorthWood at Fairfield

* Goshen at SB St. Joseph (0-2 before SB Riley Tuesday, Bremen Friday)

* Angola (2-0 before Woodlan Tuesday, Garrett Friday) at Northridge (0-3)

* Lakeland at Bethany Christian (2-2)

AREA SCORING LEADERS

Player, School`Gm`Pts`Avg

Sam Pawlak, Jim`1`25`25.0

Luke Stephens, Ffld`3`67`22.3

Noah Applegate, Penn`2`42`21.0

Weston Sage, ECA`2'38`19.0

Luke Zurcher, NW`1`18`18.0

Luke Morrison, Nridge`3`53`17.7

Cornell Conner, Cent`2`31`15.5

Seth Brenneman, Beth`346`15.3

Joe Smith, Mem`3`44`14.7

Connor Utley, Nridge`3`43`14.3

Brian Doslak, Penn`2`28`14.0

Mitch Walters, Gosh`3`40`13.3

Jose Soto, Mem`3`38`12.7

Deveon Jackson, Cent`2`24`12.0

Collin Lemley, Jim`1`12`12.0

Nick Yoder, Nridge`3`34`11.3

Adonis Brown, Cent`2`21`10.5

Ryan Charles, ECA`2`21`10.5

Brandon Emerick, Con`4`40`10.0

Michael Pinarksi, Gosh`3`30`10.0

Bryant Robinson, Gosh`3`30`10.0

Ga'Various Crawford, Mem`2'20`10.0

Brad Delio, NW`1`10`10.0

Caleb Lung, NW`1`10`10.0

Vinny Miranda, NW`1`10`10.0

Hank Smith, Mem`3`29`9.7

Note: One game missing for Bethany scoring.

(1) comment

biker1

If Terry Smith thought last Friday was a wild night at North Side gym he should have been around in the 1960s and '70s. Under coaches Max Bell and Keith Dougherty EHS would often draw 6-7,000 fans into NS gym on a Friday night when the opponents might be a South Bend Central (yes, South Bend used to have great athletics), Kokomo, Muncie Central, etc. Sadly, those days are gone. Class basketball and the creation of a second high school caused the demise in quality basketball and fan attraction.

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