Goodness, gracious, how would we ever put out a newspaper without Gary?
I say this with mixed emotions. No city in Northwest Indiana stokes the news fire like Gary. You wish the news was consistently better for a city where many people are trying to make it through the day. A city that is constantly beaten down by people who have never once walked down Broadway.
But for purely selfish, self-serving reasons, I love our Gary readers unconditionally. Where other people in other places hide behind pleasantries and political correctness, the emotion and passion tumbles out unfiltered in Gary at a moment of crisis. What more could I ask for as a journalist? They make news for me and I am grateful for that.
I spent Friday night covering a basketball game between Thea Bowman and West Side.
It was an exhilarating, exasperating, surreal experience.
The evening started out with a stirring tribute to Brandon Smith, a former Cougars basketball player who was killed in an automobile accident in September.
It ended with pandemonium and hysteria when a West Side player -- Richard Woods, listed at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds -- clocked Kevan Ford, a 5-10 guard for Bowman.
The take-out of Ford finished the game prematurely and set off a wave of hysteria. Woods had to be restrained by security as he was escorted out of the building, the victim of a ranting Bowman fan, said West Side coach John Boyd. This happened after he was ejected from the game by officials for the hard foul.
It was an ugly, brutish 31:45.
Bowman, fielding a team of sophomores, turned it into a street fight, foolishly fouling on virtually every offensive play.
The Cougars responded the only way they could: They fouled back. Even harder than the Eagles in some cases. Three Bowman players were injured. You never want to say someone deserves to get hurt. But I'll say this: What did Bowman expect?
Ford, before he took the game-ending foul, had been mercilessly trash talking to the Cougars players -- a ridiculous thing to do when you're trailing by double digits.
Just as it was ridiculous for Marvin Rea, Bowman's coach, to blame the officials for letting the game get out hand. Every good coach knows rule No.1 for dissecting a performance is never to blame the officials. If Rea can't get his kids to obey the rules than maybe Bowman needs a coach who can.
It would be convenient to assign blame to someone here for this mess. The Cougars for scheduling a game against a coltish, cocky team that quite frankly doesn't have a clue yet as to how varsity players are supposed to behave on the court. Rea for allowing that behavior to happen.
But it would do no good. The truth is, West Side, despite what Boyd said Friday about not wanting to play Bowman again, needs Bowman to be good. They need for the Eagles to learn how to play the right way.
Gary is probably going to lose another school next year. Bowman is rough around the edges but talented. They will be good enough to challenge West Side one day. That will only make both teams better.
And if the day comes when the Cougars lose to them, I hope they're gracious enough to show the Eagles how to lose with some class.
Contact Mike Hutton at 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org