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Finding quality hoops up in the cold of Indiana

This week I'm traveling around Indiana looking for quality basketball on the high school and college fronts.

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Bob Corwin

Carmel, IN -- Normally my territory is the mild to warm southern states, particularly Florida and Georgia.  After the Tennessee Turkey Jamm, I decided to head for Indiana to check out some prep and college hoops.

Day 1 - Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lawrence North at Carmel High School (my first Indiana regular season high school game!)

The Carmel fans feared for the worst after a 60+ point drubbing last year by Lawrence North.  With their team being really young (starting two freshman), there was little cause for optimism versus a team ranked second in the state.  Both schools are located on the north side of Indianapolis with Lawrence North a city public school and Carmel from a separate school district.

Lawrence North graduated several starters but picked up two transfers who will play college ball.  Thus Lawrence North lined up three BCS prospects (Jordan Hankins, 5-7, senior  guard headed to Northwestern, Lamina Cooper, 5-8, senior forward headed to Purdue and Ae'Rianna Harris, 6-1, junior center orally committed to Purdue) versus some young kids, a soon- to-be Purdue walk-on (Abby Abel, 5-5, senior guard) and a future Missouri soccer player (Amanda Shaw, 5-8, senior forward/guard) yet the score remained close almost the entire game (25-21 at half; 44-40 after three and 56-50 at the end.

So what gives?  As they say, they coach basketball in Indiana.  Carmel started the game in a delay and spent most of the night trying to keep the pace pretty slow.  When things sped up, they got into trouble trying to run with the more talented athletes.  A couple of times, a Carmel player would even apologize to their coach for a quick shot.   Also, Carmel mostly sat in a zone which Lawrence North struggled to shoot over but did profit from several second-shot opportunities.

In fairness to Lawrence North, they pushed the tempo selectively and while well above average athletically, played with a reasonable amount of control.  Carmel's senior leadership of Abel (8 points) and Shaw (11 points) was another plus as they were willing to attack Lawrence North in the paint when their younger teammates preferred to stay out of the key.

In the end, superior talent and offensive balance (four in double figures led by Jordan Hankins with 15 ) carried the day for the visitors.  Carmel was led in scoring by 6-1, junior wing Emily Kmec with 15 points, mostly shooting outside.

The Carmel (largest enrollment in Indiana at nearly 5000) main gym [There is more than one gym in this very large school.] is one of the nicest I have ever sat in (bright, airy and very well maintained).

Indiana gym

The facility holds over 4000  but was pretty empty on this cold night.  The walls of the gym are covered with the athletic history of the school.

Indiana Wall
I was told for all sports combined, Carmel has won more state championships than any other Indiana high school.