It's not often that I get the opportunity to sit back and just soak in a high school basketball game, but on Saturday I took the opportunity to do just that and get a look at some potential Indiana University recruiting targets in the meantime.
With the Hoosiers' disappointing season thankfully in the rearviewmirror, a look at a bright future provided a bit of solace as I attended the Region 3 semifinal at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
For those who have never attended a game at the historic venue, it is every bit the palace of hoops that you might have heard. I've never attended a Butler Bulldogs' game there, but there is something particularly special about watching a prep game at Hinkle.
On Saturday, a key first round game featured IU-target Gary Harris and his Hamilton Southeastern squad taking on Center Grove.
Harris put on a dazzling show for the fans in the 69-64 victory, scoring 22 points, pulling down four rebounds, passing out three assists and added two steals and a block.
While sheer athleticism provided him the ability to get to the rim, but was the variety of his game that made the biggest impression.
Harris nailed three shots from beyond the arc while Center Grove implemented a 3-2 zone and he sank several mid-range shots to counter his ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. Harris hit eight-of-15 shots from the field and was also matched up defensively against several different players, including Center Grove's Andy Smeathers.
Harris counts a long list of scholarship offers including IU, Purdue, Michigan State, Louisville and Notre Dame.
In the second afternoon game, North Central, missing leading scorer, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, overcame No. 7 Pike by a 79-73 score to earn a berth against Hamilton Southeastern.
Smith-Rivera had originally committed to Xavier, but has since re-opened his recruiting and has offers from the Musketeers, Louisville, Cincinnati, IU, Ohio State, Purdue and Tennessee.
Kentucky-recruit Marquis Teague scored 20 points for Pike in the loss.
Smith-Rivera, suspended for the first game after an altercation during the sectional championship game against Lawrence North, returned for the title game and showed just why he was so highly coveted as a recruit during his stint with the Panthers.
The junior guard drilled Hamilton Southeastern for 37 points in an 83-72 victory that propelled North Central into the semi-state against Bloomington South this weekend.
Ronnie Johnson, who is the younger brother of Purdue freshman, Terone Johnson, scored 21 of his team-high 25 points in the second half to push North Central into the regional championship game.
The 5'10 class of 2012 guard has already garnered interest from Butler, Indiana State, IUPUI, Ohio and Southern Illinois
Harris would have 21 points in the title game, but was hobbled with leg cramps during the second half. Another IU target, Zak Irvin, who is a sophomore, tallied 13 points for the Royals. Irvin also has offers from Illinois, Purdue and Xavier.
Attendance was listed at more than 8.300 for the regional.