INDIANAPOLIS – Before he was averaging 18.5 points per game in this year’s big dance, Nijel Pack was lighting up the scoreboard at Lawrence Central. His prowess with the Bears stemmed from a sibling rivalry.

“Nijel started playing basketball at the age of three. And it was actually sooner than that, when he was a little boy, playing against his older brother who’s nine years older than him,” Nijel’s father, David Pack, said. “He was always able to shoot. And that’s because he always shot over his older brother.”

Al Gooden, who recently stepped down from the Bears’ boys basketball program, has known Pack since the latter was in middle school. Gooden knows that the jump from IHSAA regionals to NCAA regionals is a dream come true.

“Past or present athletes, a coach is always happy to see a player achieve their goals,” Gooden said. “This is something that Nijel wanted to do. So yes, I’m very happy for him.”

The Hurricanes are making their first Final Four appearance in school history. Lawrence Central graduates, on the other hand, have been there twice in the last five years. Kyle Guy and the University of Virginia won it all in 2019.

Pack and the Hurricanes’ quest for a national championship continues with their semifinal game against UConn on Saturday at 8:49 p.m. on CBS4.