They grow up so fast: Sophomores Parrish, Sims shine in support of Grayson as Chesterton downs Adams
MICHIGAN CITY -- The faint whiskers on his young face say a couple things about Tyler Parrish.
The Chesterton sophomore is both a kid and a man.
"You get into March Madness, if you were a sophomore coming into March, you're a junior now," Trojans senior point guard Travis Grayson said. "It's really about that time. It's time to step up, be aggressive, just be loose, let it go, play smart."
In a Class 4A Michigan City Regional that saw South Bend Adams do everything it could to bottle up Grayson, Parrish made them pay the price, his 21 points, including four second-quarter 3-pointers, pushing Chesterton into Saturday night's final, 65-51.
"I was comfortable," Parrish said. "We've played in a lot of packed gyms. The seniors help us a lot. They get us ready. They always look out for us. They're always telling us we'll be fine, just go out there and play your game. They were just trying to stop (Grayson). Travis would drive and I was kind of just sinking (to the corner). I like that spot. He always finds the open man."
Adams (14-13) had slipped out to a 21-14 second-quarter lead as the Trojans struggled to get the ball in the basket in the first 10 minutes.
"I thought we had some good looks in the first half, we just didn't hit 'em," Chesterton coach Marc Urban said. "We just didn't finish around the rim at all. We were adjusting our shots for no reason. (Adams center Tommy) Snyder was obviously trying not to foul us."
His team down seven, Parrish caught fire, drilling four straight treys, from the baseline to the deep wing, to bring the game even again.
"That's just confidence right there," Grayson said. "He makes shots. He's a confident player. Sometimes, they'd go out on him and it leaves me open to drive for cuts. He's starting to grow into his role. He's a threat to shoot the ball and drive."
With the Eagles forced to contest Parrish more in the second half, Grayson got to the basket with a little less resistance, dropping five dimes to go with 13 points, including 7-of-7 free throws as Chesterton (27-0) jumped in front.
"I thought he got there, he was just kind of soft around the rim the first half," Urban said. "The second half, he just got strong and went and finished. We were able to finish around the rim. (Grayson) got down into the lane area and made the right decision."
A driving and-one by Grayson and his dish for an Owen Guest triple pushed the lead to seven, and the Trojans resisted a late third-quarter Adams push to break the game open with a 19-6 finish.
"I don't know what their game plan was, but it didn't work," Grayson said. "They were disciplined, loading me up in the paint. That means guys are open. (Parrish has) been shooting really well all season. When I get in the paint, I always get the chance to dish out to guys to make 3s. Guys can make mid-ranges, post up right away. That's what I did. I will finish, I will continue to be a facilitator. In all honesty, I didn't finish, but we get another chance, and with another chance, I'm going to finish at the rim and I'm going to continue to get it to the guys who make plays."
Grayson's 17 points and eight assists backed Parrish's 21 points. Justin Sims, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, was fierce inside with 13 points, six rebounds, three blocks and a late dunk on a Grayson lob. Chris Mullen snagged half a dozen boards.
"The biggest thing was getting stops and rebounds," Urban said. "All of (Adams) rushed the glass hard. Snyder's a load. He was really good. Offensive rebounds gave us trouble. Our guys kept fighting, kept making plays when they needed to, to give us a chance to play (again). (Parrish) stepped up and hit some big-time 3s. It was good to see 'OG' (Guest) hit a 3. I thought Justin was unbelievable, changing shots there late. I have all the confidence in the world in those guys. We've played in some really good atmospheres, at Culver (Academy), our home game against Valpo, the whole sectional. They've gotten so much better throughout the year."
In the end, it's Grayson who brings it all together.
"He's averaging close to six assists and 19 points. That's what's made him so good," Urban said. "He's a really good basketball player. He doesn't have to just score to impact winning. I think that's what's going to translate at the next level. He's a point guard who's smart. He's a strong kid. He can get to the rim. He's a complete player."
Chesterton advanced to face Penn, which topped Munster 53-47 in the second semifinal.
"My freshman year when we here, it felt like we were just here, let's give it all we've got and have fun," Grayson said. "That's not the mission right now. The mission is to win a regional championship."