Bulldogs win back-and-forth DAC game on road over Pirates 69-62

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

Team /Record 1 2 3 4 Final
CROWN POINT (10-2) 20 11 19 19 69
MERRILLVILLE (9-4) 21 7 26 8 62

Friday, January 13, 2017 - Duneland Athletic Conference game at MERRILLVILLE, Ind.

At Merrillville, they dim the lights for the player introductions before the CP-Merrillville game.
CP coach Clint Swan (left) watches the Pirates Nolen Thomas (1) look to move the ball against Crown Point.
Merrillville's Cameron Wilbon (23) gets loose for a dunk against CP in last week's Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) matchup.
Crown Point's Vince Smith (42) blocks Merrillville's Mitch Ward (24) at the basket in CP's first DAC road game of the year.
CP's Sammy Krutz (30) looks to get by Merrillville's Nolen Thomas (1) in second quarter action at Merrillville.
CP's Kenny Decker (35) looks to disrupt what Merrillville's Nolen Thomas (1) wants to do in CP's 69-62 win at Merrillville.
Merrillville coach TJ Lux directs the Pirates. Merrillville won 10 of their first 14 games this season.
Crown Point's Andrew Kenneally grabs a rebound at Merrillville. The CP senior averaged 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds after 13 games.
(1 of 3 photos): CP's Andrew Kenneally denies Merrillville's 6-foot-5 Cameron Wilbon (23) an easy shot in first half action last week.
(2 of 3 photos): The right-handed Wilbon (23) turns to his left against the 6-foot-7 Kenneally (44) as Sammy Krutz (30) looks on.
(3 of 3 photos):  Wilbon (23) gets a contested fadeaway off against Kenneally in second quarter action. Wilbon scored 15, but CP won 69-62. (All photos by Mark Smith)

Copyright © 2017 USA-365.com and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: January 26, 2017 .


CROWN POINT (69) Dominic Tomich 0-0-0, Sasha Stefanovic 6-2-17, Andrew Kenneally 3-3-9, Kenny Decker 11-2-29, Sammy Krutz 4-0-8, Vince Smith 3-0-6, Matt Hanlon 0-0-0, Carmen Pimental 0-0-0. . TOTALS: 27 (7-10) 69.

Jonah Jackson 5-0-14, Johnny Bernard 4-2-10, James Kirklen 3-0-6, Cameron Wilbon 7-1-15, Mileek McMillan 2-0-4, Kam Jackson 4-0-9, Nolen Thomas 1-02, Mitch Ward 0-0-0, Jay Holmes 0-0-0, Sharrod Mitchell 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26 (3-4) 62.

FREE THROWS: CROWN POINT (7-10, 70%) Stefanovic 2-2, Decker 2-3, Kenneally 3-6;
MERRILLVILLE (3-4, 75%) Wilbon 1-2, Bernard 2-2.

REBOUNDS: CP (21) Stefanovic 7, Tomich 5, Decker 4, Kenneally 3, Krutz 2; MERRILLVILLE (19) Wilbon 6, McMillan 4, Jackson 4, Kirklan 2, Jackson 2, Bernard.

ASSISTS: CROWN POINT (18) Tomich 12, Stefanovic 3, Krutz 2; MERRILLVILLE (9) Bernard 6, Kirklen, Jackson, McMillen.

BLOCKS: CP (3) Kenneally 2, Smith; MERRILLVILLE (1) Wilbon.

3-GOALS: CROWN POINT (8) Kenny Decker 5, Sasha Stefanovic 3: MERRILLVILLE (7) Jonah Jackson 4, Johnny Bernard 2, Kam Jackson.


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MERRILLVILLE (01-13-2017) Here was Crown Point coming off a loss to Michigan City and here they were at Merrillville, which is bigger, faster and has more depth than Michigan City did. But after Merrillville built small leads in each half, Crown Point twice rallied and prevailed in the end for a 69-62 victory.

"Its all about trusting one another," said Swan. "Coming out of last week with a tough loss to a good team we could have started pointing fingers and blaming each other. But we didn't do that. I thought we handled it about as well as we could have."

"I thought we were tremendous against a lot of pressure on the road. It wasn't perfect. We can do better. But we played really well on the road."

The Pirates jumped to a 12-7 lead on a slam dunk by Merrillville's 6-foot-5 senior Cameron Wilbon with 4:51 left in the quarter. The Bulldogs were able to slow the pace and pull ahead 24-21 on baskets by Kenny Decker and backup CP center Vince Smith with 2:41 left in the half.

Merrillville, with Wilbon, and 6-foot-3 wings Johnny Bernard and Jonah Jackson, turned the tide on CP with a 26-point third quarter led by seven from Wilbon and two three-point shots by Bernard.

When you look at how CP is constructed, you want to trap Tomich and get the ball into the hands of lesser ball-handlers. But Crown Point actually wants that press because it opens up the floor.

"I don't know if we want that much pressure," said Swan. "I think his mom and dad could sue me for all the minutes I play him. But I can't take him out in a game like tonight."

Despite playing every minute of the game, Tomich posted three of his game-high 12 assists in CP's fourth quarter rally from a 54-50 deficit. Kenny Decker, CP's 6-foot-5 senior, scored 12 points on five fourth quarter field goals and sophomore Sammy Krutz added two baskets in a 19-8 final quarter.

"We just worked on moving the ball out of my hands a little faster," Tomich said. "I know if I need a break, I can call Sash (Sasha Stefanovic). But I like being out there with the ball. I like playing all 32 minutes. Sometimes you go to the bench, you have regrets. I like it like this."

"Can't take him out," said Swan. "He's too good. I think he's the best point guard in our area. I can't take him out of the game. I thought last week we did a bad job of trying to break the pressure by dribbling. This week we did a much better job of sharing the ball and moving the ball."

A lot of teams play well for half a season and then reality (read: the length the Indiana basketball season) sets in. But there's something about this Crown Point team which features four seniors and a lot of role players. This group has defeated more than one team with superior talent and I'm not totally sure how they're doing it.

On this Friday night, the Pirates (10-3) had the shooters, the size and length and the pressure defense, but CP found a way to get by them, evening both teams' Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) record at 1-1. Decker's career-high 29 was a reason Tomich pointed to.

"We knew he could of this," Dominic said. "Absolutely. He's in the gym (practicing) 24-7 over the summer. More than anybody else. We knew he can play."

DOG NOTES: The Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) had co-leaders after week two of the seven week season. Valparaiso (12-2, 2-0 DAC) edged Michigan City 72-69 and Lake Central (9-5, 2-0 DAC) topped last place Portage 59-54. Chesterton (9-5, 0-2 DAC) dropped a second league game in a row 60-54 to LaPorte (11-3, 1-1).

Lake Central plays at Valpo next Friday. CP hosts Warsaw (9-4) in a weather-postponed game Saturday night, Jan. 21.
Crown Point rallied in the second half to end the 12-game winning streak of Griffith 68-56 Saturday night. The Bulldogs got 23 points and 12 rebounds from Sasha Stefanovic and 22 points from Andrew Kenneally. Griffith, which won at Lowell 64-59 Friday night, hit 11 three-point shots against CP but they needed 31 attempts to do so.

CP coach Clint Swan sees Kenny Decker as a 'program guy,' a player who didn't play on the varsity much (if at all) for three years and is a starting to be a major contributor as a senior.

"Every thing he does, I'm just so happy for him," said Swan. "The way he handled himself during his lack of playing time. I know he wanted to play more, but he handled it. "He's made the most of his opportunities this year. Not just making three-pointers. It's rebounding the ball and taking charges. Finishing in traffic. Hard not to get emotional talking about him."


Coach: Clint Swan, 149-96 in 11th year at school, 287-168 in 20th year overall
Nov. 23 at Bowman Academy {2A}  W   73-  69  
Dec. 3 at Penn {4A} ot W   57-  51  
Dec. 6 East Chicago Central {4A}  W   85-  72  
Dec. 10 Pike {4A}  W   72-  59  
Dec. 16 at Munster {4A}  W   59-  32  
Dec. 22 at Boone Grove {2A}  W   75-  23  
Dec. 27 †Columbus East {4A}  W   72-  61  tournament
Dec. 28 at Noblesville {4A}  W   62-  59  tournament
Dec. 28 †Pike {4A} ot  L   62-  67  tournament
Dec. 31 at South Bend Washington {4A}  W   64-  52  
Jan. 6 Michigan City {4A}‡   L    53-  56  
Jan. 13 at Merrillville {4A}‡  W   69-  62  
Jan. 14 Griffith {3A} W   68-  56  
Jan. 20 at Chesterton {4A}‡ W   59-  40  
Jan. 21 Warsaw {4A} ot W   50-  46  
Jan. 27 LaPorte {4A}‡ 7:00 pm  
Jan. 28 at Warren Central {4A} 7:00 pm  
Feb. 2 at Portage {4A}‡ 7:00 pm  
Feb. 7 at Andrean {3A} 7:00 pm  
Feb. 10 Valparaiso {4A}‡ 7:00 pm  
Feb. 17 at Lake Central {4A}‡ 7:00 pm  
Feb. 21 Hammond Morton {4A} 7:00 pm  
Feb. 24 Lowell {4A} 7:00 pm  

Coach: T.J. Lux, 94-42 in 6th year at school
Nov. 23 at Hammond {3A}  W   72-  47  
Nov. 26 Southport {4A}  W   60-  41  
Dec. 2 at East Chicago Central {4A}   L   67-  69  
Dec. 9 Hammond Noll {2A}  W   91-  43  
Dec. 10 Andrean {3A}  W   88-  79  
Dec. 20 at Hammond Morton {4A}  W   78-  61  
Dec. 22 †McCutcheon {4A}   L   74-  77  
Dec. 29 †Norwell {3A}  W   60-  36  tournament
Dec. 29 †Leo {3A}  W   69-  55  tournament
Dec. 30 †Valparaiso {4A}  W   62-  60  tournament
Dec. 30 †Hamilton Southeastern {4A}   L   75-  83  tournament
Jan. 6 at Chesterton {4A}‡  W   64-  61  
Jan. 13 Crown Point {4A}‡   L   62-  69  
Jan. 14 at Munster {4A}  W   64-  34  
Jan. 20 at Portage {4A}‡  W   55-  52  
Jan. 21 Carroll (Fort Wayne) {4A}  W   59-  49  
Jan. 27 at Valparaiso {4A}‡ 7:00 pm  
Jan. 28 at Lowell {4A} 7:00 pm  
Feb. 2 at Lake Central {4A}‡ 7:00 pm  
Feb. 10 LaPorte {4A}‡ 7:00 pm  
Feb. 11 at Warsaw {4A} 6:45 pm  
Feb. 17 Michigan City {4A}‡ 7:00 pm  
Feb. 18 Hobart {4A} 7:00 pm  
Feb. 24 Penn {4A} 7:00 pm  
Valparaiso 3-  0 14-  2 63.1 46.6 16.5 Won 4
Crown Point 2-  1 13-  2 65.3 53.7 11.7 Won 4
LaPorte 2-  1 12-  3 58.2 49.8 8.4 Won 4
Merrillville 2-  1 12-  4 68.8 57.3 11.5 Won 3
Lake Central 2-  1 9-  7 53.8 52.2 1.6 Lost 2
Michigan City 1-  2 13-  5 60.6 54.2 6.4 Won 1
Chesterton 0-  3 9-  7 65.6 60.2 5.4 Lost 3
Portage 0-  3 5-11 58.3 59.9 -1.7 Lost 1
Monday, Jan. 16
Michigan City 36, Chicago Corliss (Ill.) 34
Tuesday, Jan. 17
Lowell 56, Lake Central 51
Michigan City 61, Munster 36
Portage 64, Whiting 56
Wednesday, Jan. 18
Andrean 58, Chesterton 55
Friday, Jan. 20
Crown Point 59, Chesterton 40‡
LaPorte 58, Michigan City 53‡
Merrillville 55, Portage 52‡
Valparaiso 50, Lake Central 28‡
Saturday, Jan. 21
Crown Point 50, Warsaw 461OT
Merrillville 59, Carroll (Fort Wayne) 49
Michigan City 58, South Bend Clay 54
Valparaiso 58, South Bend Washington 44
Friday, Jan. 27
Lake Central at Chesterton‡, 7 pm
LaPorte at Crown Point‡, 7 pm
Merrillville at Valparaiso‡, 7 pm
Michigan City at Portage‡, 7 pm
Saturday, Jan. 28
Concord at LaPorte, 7 pm
Crown Point at Warren Central, 7 pm
Kankakee Valley at Portage, 7 pm
Lake Central at South Bend Clay, 7 pm
Merrillville at Lowell, 7 pm
Rich East (Ill.) at Michigan City, 7:15 pm, Michigan City
Valparaiso at Munster, 7 pm
Thursday, Feb. 2
Chesterton at Michigan City‡, 7 pm
Crown Point at Portage‡, 7 pm
Merrillville at Lake Central‡, 7 pm
Valparaiso at LaPorte‡, 7 pm
Saturday, Feb. 4
John Glenn at LaPorte, 2:30 pm
Michigan City at South Bend Adams, 1:30 pm
Valparaiso at Hammond Noll, 2:30 pm
‡Conference game