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The former Hidden Valley High School standout gets his first taste of March Madness with Valparaiso.
Courtesy of Valparaiso
Valparaiso senior guard Ben Boggs (right) drives to the basket in a game against Northern Illinois.
Ben Boggs (second from right) and his Valparaiso teammates celebrate their 62-54 victory over Wright State that earned the Crusaders the Horizon League tournament championship.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Ben Boggs is not a big scorer for his team. Lately, he hasn’t even been starting.
But he is in the NCAA tournament.
The former Hidden Valley High School and Virginia Tech guard is getting his first taste of March Madness with 14th-seeded Valparaiso, which will play third-seeded Michigan State at 12:15 p.m. today in Auburn Hills, Mich. (WDBJ).
“It’s really special,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s been a childhood dream of mine through the years, always watching ‘Selection Sunday.’ To finally be on a team that gets called, it’s just an amazing feeling.”
Boggs, a senior, averages 5.3 points for coach Bryce Drew’s squad. He has scored in double figures in six games this season.
“I’m just kind of doing whatever coach needs — defense, hustling, just doing the little things,” Boggs said. “That’s one thing that makes our team very successful, is we have guys that know their roles.
“I love just playing for this team and playing with the guys. The main thing that matters to me … is winning.”
Boggs has started 20 games this season for the Indiana school, although he has come off the bench for the past six games. He ranks seventh on the team in minutes (18.2 mpg).
“Playing time and all that doesn’t matter,” Boggs said. “I’m just happy to be in the NCAA tournament.”
Valpo (26-7) is in the NCAA field for the first time since 2004. Boggs is one of six seniors on the Crusaders, who boast the most experienced roster in the nation in terms of minutes played.
The Crusaders, who won the Horizon League regular-season title for the second straight year, earned an automatic NCAA bid by winning the Horizon League tournament. Boggs’ parents and sister were in the stands as the top-seeded Crusaders beat Wright State 62-54 in the March 12 final.
Winning the league tournament had been “unfinished business” for Boggs and his teammates, who lost to Detroit in the Horizon final on their home floor last year. They were relegated to the NIT.
“That was our goal from day one this year, was to get back to that same exact point,” he said. “It was an amazing feeling to be able to cut down the nets and win our tournament and get a bid.
“We learned a lot from losing that game. The experience really helped us out a lot.”
This year’s Horizon tournament certainly was memorable for Valpo. In their semifinal win over Green Bay, the Crusaders trailed by four points with 10 seconds to go. Ryan Broekhoff won the game with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“Ryan just hit a miraculous shot,” Boggs said. “That was crazy. He took off running. We just all dove on him on the floor. It was awesome.”
In the final, Valpo trailed by six points with less than six minutes remaining but rallied to beat Wright State in a nationally televised game.
“I was almost in shock. I was just so happy,” said Boggs, who had one basket in 10 minutes in the final. “We have a very tight-knit team, and just to be able to celebrate it with some of my best friends was great.”
Boggs orally committed to Tech in the fall of his junior year at Hidden Valley. He was the Timesland player of the year and an All-Group AA pick as a junior, when he averaged 17.8 points and led the Titans to the state semifinals. He was injured as a senior.
He averaged 2.2 points and 8.6 minutes in 25 games as a Tech freshman in 2009-10. He played in only four of the Hokies’ first eight games as a sophomore before leaving Tech in December 2010 in search of more playing time.
“I have no regrets,” Boggs said. “I enjoyed my time at Virginia Tech.
“At the time [of picking Tech], that was what I felt was the best choice for me.”
After sitting out two semesters under the NCAA’s transfer rule, Boggs became eligible for Valpo in December 2011. He averaged 4.5 points and 21.5 minutes last season, when he started Valpo’s final 20 games.
He had started 35 straight games dating to last season before missing a Jan. 4 game with a toe injury. He returned to action the following game in a reserve role. He rejoined the starting lineup Feb. 1, beginning a stretch of five straight starts.
Despite transferring, Boggs did not even need four full school years to get his Valpo degree.
Boggs graduated in December with a degree in sports management and is now pursuing a master’s degree in sports administration. He would like to become a coach.
Valpo and Boggs are in the same Midwest Region bracket as Boggs’ former Hidden Valley teammate Luke Hancock, whose Louisville squad will face North Carolina A&T today in Lexington, Ky.
Hancock and Boggs have been texting each other about their good fortune.
“It’s pretty cool,” Boggs said. “I don’t know if we could’ve guessed back when we were in high school that we’d both be playing in the NCAA tournament this year. We’re both happy for each other and rooting for each other.”
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