Gorch on the Porch: End the vendetta

Photo by Scott AllenMarquette's Emmery Joseph drives to the basket on Saturday night as Michigan City's Janicia Anderson tries to block the shot. This is the third straight year the Wolves and Blazers have faced off in girls basketball after a 13-year hiatus, while the boys haven't played in eight years.

Time for you to roll your eyes while sitting down for breakfast in the morning and opening the paper to The News-Dispatch sports section, and yelling to your significant other, “Hey, Gorches is ranting about Michigan City and Marquette boys basketball again!”

Yep, it’s that time of the year. I try to forget about the fact that the two high schools in Michigan City play each other in every single other sport in which both schools have a team (being a smaller Class A institution, Marquette doesn’t have teams in such sports as swimming, wrestling or track and field) except boys basketball.

They face off in tennis and golf in both fall and spring. They play in boys and girls soccer in the fall. They play in softball and baseball. They even rebooted the city matchup in girls basketball in 2015 after a 13-year hiatus.

In fact, that’s what reminds me to write this eye-rolling column.

Last weekend the Wolves and Blazers faced at the Scholl Center with Marquette winning 68-57.

Here’s how my mind works: I copy and paste the game onto my weekly schedule, I assign a reporter and photographer to the game, then I stare at it on my computer screen and wonder (sometimes out loud), “Why can’t they do this in boys basketball?”

I’m done trying to issue blame. Personally, I don’t care whose fault it is.

I’m like the strict grade school teacher who asks the class who was responsible for conning Flick into sticking his tongue on the flagpole during recess (yes, that’s a “Christmas Story” reference) and when no one answers, punishes the whole class.

That metaphor means I’ll blame ’em all.

Whoever the Marquette principal has been over the years … it’s your fault.

Whoever the Michigan City athletic director has been … it’s your fault.

Marquette athletic directors over the years … you’re to blame.

The boys basketball coaches at each school… you’re at fault, too.

Well, maybe Marquette boys basketball coach Fred Mooney doesn't deserve blame yet because it’s his first season as head coach and he's had other things to focus on in a little more than six months on the job. But he's on the clock to try to fix the problem. Mooney didn't return a message before deadline, so maybe he has a solution.

Michigan City principals of the past are to blame, too. But current principal, Candy Van Buskirk, like Mooney, has only been on the job a short time (since June) and maybe she isn't fully familiar with the ongoing situation.

City faced Marquette in boys hoops seven times from 1996 to 2009. Before Elston and Rogers consolidated, Marquette faced both schools each season for several years, and often times would lose to one of them in the sectional (back in the good old days of the single-class tournament).

Then Donovan Garletts arrived at Marquette and the series disappeared.

So I can’t blame you, Candy, but I can implore you to be the voice of reason and get something done since the rest of the characters in this mystery novel are pleading the fifth.

“It’s kind of an unspoken understanding,” Marquette assistant athletic director Brad Collignon said. “We like (City athletic director) Craig (Shaman) a lot, so we don’t prod him about it more than the couple times we’ve asked. And to be honest, I don’t even think Craig would have an issue.”

Shaman had less to say about it, since he’s likely one of those people rolling their eyes at this sports columnist bringing up the issue again.

“We’re just not on each other’s schedules,” he said.

His boys basketball coach of nine seasons, John Boyd, said even fewer words when I asked if there was any attempt to resolve the matter.

“Not at all,” Boyd said in a text.

Speaking of Boyd, another game over the weekend reminded me of this ongoing problem. Marquette opened its boys season at Gary West Side, where Boyd was the head coach and led the Cougars to the 2002 Class 4A state title.

While at West Side, it was no secret Boyd had issues with charter schools moving into Gary and taking away students, let alone basketball players, from the public schools.

Looking back, I see his point. Boyd is a West Side graduate, so leading the Cougars to a state title was a matter of pride for him and so many other Gary hoops fans. So when charter schools crop up, then the most successful one athletically, Bowman Academy, starts off as a basketball power with some players who should have been at West Side, you can understand him being angry.

Bowman went on to win two state titles and finish state runner-up twice, in three different classes. What if those players were at Gary public schools?

But if that’s the reason City hasn’t played Marquette since Boyd’s first season with the Wolves, it’s time for the vendetta to end. I get having a chip on your shoulder. I’ve had way too many of them and it’s wrong.

It’s time to move on and for the two teams to play again.

Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at sgorches@thenewsdispatch.com or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.

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