2020 'Pick 6' Renegade
Girls Basketball Week Twelve (12) Poll

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Crown Point's Jessica Carrothers (14) hopes the Bulldogs' success can 'crossover' into the postseason. CP opens the playoffs at Portage Friday night against Chesterton or Lowell at 6 p.m. (Photo by Mark Smith)

CROWN POINT (02-03-2020) As most of you know, Crown Point has won every regular season game for two years now.
The state polls end with the regular season so why, you may ask, has Crown Point not been the top-ranked team at any time for this year?

Thereís a reason for CP being No. 2 in the final poll and that team plays down in Howard County. The favorite in Class 4A is the two-time defending Class 3A champ Northwestern (23-0), which was bumped up to Class 4A this season.
Northwestern, a Kokomo area school, was 29-1 in 2018 and 27-3 last year and won the 3A state title both times. The only team to come within 20 points of Northwestern this season was Des Plaines, Illinois power Maine West (19-3), who lost 61-58.

Northwestern is led by senior guard Madison Leyden who averages 26.2 points and 6.1 assists per game. She teams with 6-1 senior forward Kendall Bostic who averages 21.1 points and 10. 2 rebounds a game. The other guard is 5-foot-9 senior Klair Merrill (10.1 ppg.), who averages five assist per game.

Coming off the bench is Madison Leydenís freshman sister, 6-foot-1 McKenna Leyden (5.5 ppg.).

Benton Central was ranked No.1 in Class 3A (they still are) with a 20-3 record. Northwestern beat them 70-20 last month. 70-20.

You see where Iím going here? The team that defeated CP at the semistate last year, Hamilton Southeastern (20-2), is in Sectional 8 and the Sectional 8 winner must play the Sectional 7 winner, most likely Northwestern in regional play. HSE will probably lose. Homestead is 22-1 and rated third in the state, but they will have to play Northwestern at the regional. Homestead will probably lose.

Then comes the semistate where that NW Indiana team that hasnít lost a regular season game in two years might show for the second year in a row.

But letís be clear. While anything can happen, the road to the Class 4A state finals from the north goes through Northwestern and Northwestern has won 30 games in a row.

Let's check out this weekís half dozen with a word about how they did in the state tournament draw last week.

1. (4A) Crown Point (24-0)
2019 (28-1), 2018 (13-11), 2017 (16-9), 2016 (20-6)

CROWN POINT: Crown Point rolled by Chesterton and Bishop Noll to complete a second consecutive undefeated regular season. Iím still looking for the last back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons by a girls team in Northwest Indiana. Highland was 22-0 in 2001. Oregon-Davis was 21-0 in 2008. Merrillville was 20-0 in 2012. South Bend Washington was 28-1 in 2007, but they lost the season opener to Fort Wayne South 63-58. SBW was 26-1 in 2009, losing the state title game 71-69 to Ben Davis. But they were 23-2 in 2008, losing to Buffalo Grove, Illinois 74-58 and to Lexington, Kentucky Catholic 73-60. Like CP in 2020, SBW went far and wide in search of someone who could beat them. Crown Point played Castle (15-7), Bloomington North (15-8), Salem (20-2) and Fremd of Palatine, Illinois (19-6) for the first time in the history of their program. CP also added Penn (22-2) to the regular schedule. Crown Point beat them all. Again, you donít get a trophy for winning every regular season game two years in arrow, Iíve just never seen anybody do it. CP did not get a good draw at the Portage Sectional. They will most likely face Chesterton (17-5) and Portage (19-5) on back to back nights, both rematches of DAC games. CP does not have a lot of depth and if that matters, it might show up against Portage.

2. (4A) Portage (19-5)
2019 (12-14), 2018 (14-12), 2017 (11-16)

PORTAGE: Portage won their last 10 games and finished on the doorstep of the first 20-win season in school history. The Indians were 19-4 for old coach Rernee Turpa in 1988. Kristen Cravens averaged 10.9 points per game and led NW Indiana with 74 three-point baskets and Jordan Barnes (32, 3s) averaged 10.9 points per game. Portage was the top 3-point shooting team in this part of the state (181 of 567, 32%) so they have a chance to beat anybody. Portage has not won a sectional title since Ď88 and they got a bye in the first round of the six-team Portage Sectional this week. Home is where you want to be at sectional time.

3. (4A) Chesterton (17-5)
2019 (11-12), 2018 (20-3), 2017 (13-10)

CHESTERTON: Chesterton lost to Crown Point (24-0) and to tiny town power Knox (22-1) in the final 10 days of the season but they turned back Andrean 42-36 to end the year. Senior guard Ashley Craycraft (14.0 ppg.) and forward Emma Schmidt (10.2 ppg.) lead a Trojan team that is looking to win one sectional game for the first time since 2014. The Trojans 20-win team in 2018 was upset by Michigan City 56-49 by Valparaiso in 4A Sectional 2 play. The Trojans do not have much size and that hurt them against CP. That matters because if Chesterton wins their sectional quarterfinal against Lowell (13-8), they will see Crown Point again in the semifinals of the 4A Portage Sectional.

4. (3A) Knox (22-1)
2019 (21-5), 2018 (21-5), 2017 (8-15)

KNOX: Hereís the story of the year. Knox has split two games with 2A North Judson (18-4) 54-41, and they have wins over, 1A Oregon-Davis (17-4) 63-48, 1A Pioneer (20-2), 52-47, Porter County Conference (PCC) champion Morgan Township (20-3) 54-36, 4A Merrillville (15-9) 63-41, and 4A Chesterton (18-5) 39-31. This team is a two-year project. Junior guard Felicity Olejniczak averages 13.5 per game and 6-foot junior center Remi Jordan averages 14.9 points and 8.2 rebounds on a team that has only one senior in that Redskin starting lineup. Knox plays seven girls so the way to get after them is probably to speed up the game. But Iím guessing a lot of teams have tried and failed. Could they beat Munster and LaPorte? I donít know but they won't have to. Knox hosts the 6-team Class 3A Sectional 18 and they got a first round bye. Life is good at the school of hard (wood) Knox.

5. (4A) LaPorte (14-7)
2019 (16-8), 2018 (17-6), 2017 (15-11)

LaPORTE: The Slicers had a three-game January losing streak against Lake Central (14-10), Plymouth (12-10) and Chesterton (17-10) but they rallied for wins over Michigan City, Riley and East Chicago. Contrast the losses to Munster (19-4), Penn (22-2), Crown Point (24-0) and Merrillville (15-9) with wins over Concord (15-7), Portage (19-5) and Fort Wayne South (14-9). Senior guard Nyla Asad averages 17.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game and junior Riley Ott is clicking at a 15.5 point and 6.8 rebound rate. Class 4A Sectional 3 is wide open with Plymouth (12-10), Riley (12-10), Adams (6-15), Michigan City (9-13) and Mishawaka (1-21). LaPorte drew Adams in the quarterfinals and they probably have no problem with that.

6.(4A) Lake Central (14-10)
2019 (9-14), 2018 (22-7), 2017 (19-7), 2016 (23-2)

ST. JOHN: I like Lake Central as a top team going into the playoffs. Yeah, 10 losses. I know. But LC was 2-7 on December 7 and things have changed. First of all, the seven losses were to Munster, (19-5), Hamilton Southeastern (20-2) Benton Central (21-3), Fishers (21-1), Penn (20-2), Chesterton (18-5), and Merrillville (16-9). LC, which had some injury issues, now has won 12 of their last 15 with wins over LaPorte (14-7), Marian (19-5) and St. Josephís (15-8). Two of LCís losses are in overtime. This team is on the rise and they got an excellent draw in the Class 4A Sectional 1 which they host. If LC gets a sectional title game rematch with Munster on their home floor, thatís good news for LC.

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Revised: February 03, 2020 .