The Longfellow stays home

Elkhart Memorial leaves everything on the court, defeating Elkhart Central 67-56.

Junior+D%27Arjon+Lewis+rises+above+Central+defender+to+make+a+shot+during+the+final+Memorial+versus+Central+boys+basketball+game+at+North+Side+Gym+on+Friday%2C+Dec.+6.+Memorial+took+home+the+Longfellow+trophy%2C+defeating+Central+67-56.

Photo courtesy of Kellen Hartman

Junior D'Arjon Lewis rises above Central defender to make a shot during the final Memorial versus Central boys basketball game at North Side Gym on Friday, Dec. 6. Memorial took home the Longfellow trophy, defeating Central 67-56.

Rayna Minix, Entertainment Editor

The stands are packed, the fans are anxious, the players are ready, and the final Longfellow game is about to begin. 

You can physically see the anticipation in the players as they filled the court. The ball is tossed into the air and the Chargers effortlessly win the tip. The game has begun.

“The energy in the gym was a lot of fun and the guys could feel that,” said head coach Kyle Sears.  “They fed off of that energy and really enjoyed the moment.”

After a couple missed shots from both teams, senior Brandon Brooks sinks two free throws, allowing the Chargers to take the lead. Both teams begin to clean it up and put some points on the board. Junior D’Arjon Lewis hits a deep three, followed by a clean steal from a Central opponent. The Chargers finish out the first quarter in the lead, 15-8. 

Although they were in the lead, it was not enough for them to be comfortable. The Chargers come out hot, continuing to hold strong on defense. Central tries tirelessly to fight back and close the gap but cannot seem to catch up. 

Sophomore Titus (Skinny) Rodgers hits his first three of the night, kickstarting a whole new level of intensity. Central responds with a three-pointer of their own, but this does not bother the Chargers as senior Brackton Miller executes a clean reverse layup. 

It is now halfway through the second quarter and Memorial still holds a 24-18 lead. Fouls start being handed out left and right, allowing the Blazers to slowly minimize the gap and cause the Chargers to slightly lose intensity. Going into halftime, after the Blazers managed to put up 22 points in the second quarter, the ball game was now tied 30-30, the first time the Chargers did not have a lead since they were tied 6-6 in the first quarter. The Chargers were in trouble and something needed to happen if they wanted to walk away with the Longfellow. 

We made some halftime adjustments to make sure we were getting rebounds and attacking the basket.”

— Kyle Sears, Head Coach

Starting out the second half, Central quickly loses their star point guard to the bench due to four fouls, opening up the chance for the Chargers to pull away from the Blazers. Lewis hits another killer three and Central immediately calls a timeout. Not long after, Central also hits a deep three, but the Chargers quickly answer with another huge three from Lewis, his second in the third. 

Central struggles in this quarter, only putting up nine points. Memorial consistently put up 15 points for each quarter so far, making the score at the end of the third 45-39 Chargers.

Not letting up, Brooks hits two free throws at the start of the fourth quarter, giving Memorial a ten point lead, the biggest they had all night. Rodgers gets another two free throws, leading the team in points with five minutes left in the game.

“In the fourth quarter we really had to lock in and close the game out,” said Brooks. “We couldn’t give them a chance to come back because they played hard and really wanted it, but we wanted it more. You could see the emotion in every shot.”

As it gets down to the last three minutes of the game, the Chargers hold only a five point lead. You can feel the pressure start to take over. Points are being thrown up back-to-back by both teams, nobody letting up. This is anybody’s game and both teams are fighting for this Longfellow trophy with everything they have got.

Lewis hits yet another huge three and excites the crowd, but not as much as the huge fight that erupted in the stands. The clock is stopped while Elkhart police officers intervene and the action returns to the court.

With eight seconds left, Charger fans can barely contain their excitement. They watch as Rodgers hits a layup and solidifies the final score of 67-56 Chargers. 

The game is done. Elkhart Memorial has walked away with the Longfellow trophy from the last ever Memorial vs. Central basketball game. As the fans rush onto the court, you can just see the absolute euphoria dripping off the players. There was a sense of relief, they had been waiting so long for this moment and were beyond excited to leave this legacy behind. You could easily look around and know that you were in the presence of history in the making. 

Lewis ended up leading the team in points, putting up a solid 26, a career high for him which really came at the best time.  

I’m just really proud of the way we performed and those 26 points go to my teammates. They got me open, they got me the shots all night and I just thank them for my performance.”

— D'Arjon Lewis, junior

Skinny Rodgers added 18 points for the Chargers and Brooks had 11 rebounds.

“We played alright the first half, they just played more aggressive,” said Rodgers. “The second half I feel like we did better with the little things that were killing us in the first half.” 

Sears is happy with the win, but remembers the rest of their season still ahead.

I am proud and thankful that I have been able to be a part of the game many times throughout the years, but I am looking forward to the rest of the season now,” Sears said.

The Crimson Chargers will take on the Mishawaka Cavemen on Tuesday, December 10th at Mishawaka in hopes of adding to their 2-0 record. 

“It means a lot to us, to come out here and perform in front of a crowd like this, execute the coach’s game plan and come out with the dub,” Lewis said. “Our guys wanted this tonight and that’s what we came out here and got, and I’m proud of my boys.”