Column: Indiana basketball exudes passion, grace

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Heritage Hills junior guard Hadley Lytton prepares to shoot a layup during the first quarter of Friday evening’s game against Crawford County in Lincoln City. Heritage Hills won, 50-23.

By JIMMY LAFAKIS
jlafakis@dcherald.com

LINCOLN CITY — When I was in elementary school, I developed a fond love for music. I explored a host of genres, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to one particular tune — Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” That song has stuck with me for more than 15 years.

Born and raised in Northwest Indiana, I’m quite proud to be a native Hoosier. After graduating from Butler last May, I began my journalism career at the Minot Daily News in Minot, North Dakota.

While Minot was a great launching pad, I was enticed by the opportunity to come home and cover sports in my home state.

This week, I was fortunate enough to cover two Indiana high school basketball games. As I watched Northeast Dubois tip off against Shoals on Tuesday evening, I paused for a moment. I’ve been back in the Hoosier State for a short time, but hoops just feel right here.

Basketball is different in Indiana.

Gratitude takes precedent

As Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward recovered from a leg injury in 2017, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge posted a picture of Hayward’s rehabilitation process on Twitter. In the photo, Hayward follows through on a shot while seated in a chair.

Chris Forsberg, a Celtics reporter for NBC Sports Boston, wondered why the lights were off in the gym.

Ainge’s succinct response personified Indiana basketball: “When you’re a Hoosier, you need no lights.”

While I watched the Jeeps and Jug Rox earlier this week, Ainge’s words came to mind. As the game progressed, both squads showcased some lights-out shooting.

On Friday evening, the Heritage Hills and Crawford County varsity teams paid close attention to the junior varsity game in Lincoln City. The varsity players offered encouraging words and support during the contest. I always enjoy watching older players set positive examples for their teammates. The Patriots (1-0) ran away with a 50-23 win.

The beauty of Indiana basketball lies in its malleability. I’ve attended games with a few hundred fans dispersed throughout the particular venues. I’ve also attended games with more than 9,000 fervent fans showing their support inside Hinkle Fieldhouse. Either way, basketball is a gorgeous game.

I am especially thankful to witness history this year. When I experienced Huntingburg’s Memorial Gym for the first time, I had to snap a photo from the upper level. After I shared the photo on Twitter, I grinned as I read about the arena’s rich history.

My job is to tell stories, but listening to the tales of others is the most rewarding part of this business. As the Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

There are certified hoops historians in this state. When it comes to Indiana basketball, there are many people who have forgotten more than I know. I have a lot to learn, but I accept that opportunity with open arms.

The future is uncertain, but I am assured of one notion. No matter what this season holds, area student-athletes and coaches will make the most of this unprecedented year. In this state, we work with what we have.

It feels great to be back home again in Indiana. I’m glad I listened to Bon Jovi’s advice.




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