2020 'Pick 6' Renegade
Girls Basketball Week Eight (8) Poll

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Crown Point and senior Abby Stoddard (30) are looking ahead to the new year after 17 wins in the first two months of the season. (Photo by Mark Smith)

CROWN POINT (01-01-2020) Turning into the new year, the top teams in Northwest Indiana are all here, but a few others surprise me.

Knox has been good for a couple of years (21-5 in 2018 and 2019) but the Redskins are 16-0 again after winning the Hanover Central Holiday Tournament. North Judson is 11-2 after a 47-43 win over perennial 3A power South Bend St. Joseph’s (10-5). Morgan Township (11-2) has lost only to Knox (16-0) and Kankakee Valley (11-5).

And then there’s Lake Station. People, Lake Station was 0-21 in 2006 and 2009. Lake Station lost 55 girls basketball games in a row from 2002 to 2004. They have never even come close to winning a sectional.

But the Lake Station Eagles began the new year with a 9-2 record for first year coach Rudy Chabes. The losses are to Westville (13-1) and Morgan Township (11-2). Last year, Lake Station was 15-7 and they were eliminated in sectional play 72-41 by Bishop Noll. Last week, they beat Bishop Noll 67-50.

They are obviously a team to watch.

I want remind those of us who care that the Times prints statistics of local boys and girls basketball teams, usually on Thursday.

And earlier I wrote that all Munster games would be televised on the WJOB network. That is not true. Only Munster home games.

The game between Munster (12-0) and Crown Point (17-0) on Tuesday, Jan 14, as far as I know, will NOT be televised.

You can watch both of Crown Point’s games in the Hall of Fame Classic on the IHSAA ‘Champions’ network.

Two of Hanover’s games in the Hanover Central Holiday Tournament are still available on the WJOB Network this week. And if you can locate the ISC Network (which I never heard of before last week), you can watch some games (not all) in their ‘library’ for free.

1. (4A) Crown Point (17-0)
2019 (28-1), 2018 (13-11), 2017 (16-9), 2016 (20-6)

CROWN POINT: While the injury loss of junior guard Alyna Santiago will hurt them down the line, the first half of CP’s 49-37 win over Penn (14-1) in the championship game of the Hall of Fame tournament on Dec. 23 was as good as I have seen them. In a match of unbeatens, CP (17-0) led Penn (14-1) by 17 points at the half. Lilly Stoddard scored 20 in that game as Penn made a special effort to double team top scorer Jessica Carrothers (20.7 ppg.), holding her to just 10. If there was one game I was confident Crown Point might lose during the regular season it was the rematch with state-rated Penn, a team they eliminated in overtime at the regional last year. The rematch was not as close as the final score.

The Lady Bulldogs are shooting 65% (171 of 263) from the foul line after 17 games. If they get that up to 70%, it's going to be hard to take them down. Carrothers (38 of 43, 88%) and senior Dash Shaw (41 of 55, 75%) are very good free throw shooters, which is good fortune because they have the ball most of the time.

Like many teams, CP uses an eight-player rotation and the two week holiday break will give them a chance to work with the new No. 8. CP hosts Munster (12-0) the night of Tuesday Jan. 14 and they host arch-rival Merrillville (10-5) on Saturday, Jan. 18.

2. (4A) LaPorte (9-4)
2019 (16-8), 2018 (17-6), 2017 (15-11)

LaPORTE - There’s a lot of teams that could be No. 2 so how come a team with four losses is here? Those losses are to Crown Point (17-0), Munster (12-0), Penn (14-1) and Merrillville (10-5).
Nyla Asad (16.4 ppg.) and Ryin Ott (15.8) are a solid 1-2 scoring punch. The schedule has been tough and they’ve tasted hard times. But wins over Concord (10-3), Portage (10-5) and Valparaiso (8-6) and, to me, the quality of LaPorte’s losses (just 57-52 to Munster and just 51-49 to Merrillville) puts them here.

3. (4A) Merrillville (10-5)
2019 (11-12), 2018 (5-18), 2017 (21-6), 2016 (20-7)

MERRILLVILLE: The Pirates lost three times in four games in the Northridge Holiday tournament, but one of those games was 49-38 to Northwood (15-2). A couple of losses to Rushville (8-8) and Andrean (8-9) moved them down in the poll and the 16 point loss to Valpo wasn't a highlight. But wins over Warsaw (10-5) and St. Joseph’s (10-5) and LaPorte (9-4) look good on the resume. Yes, I realize that LaPorte is ranked higher. But Merrillville won that one, again was 51-49. The Pirates walk on the wild side this week heading to 2A No. 9 Westville (13-1) and tiny town high-rider Knox (16-0) before they get back into Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) play with Chesterton (10-2) on Jan. 10.

4. (4A) Portage (10-5)
2019 (12-14), 2018 (14-12), 2017 (11-16)

PORTAGE: I still like Portage a little better than Chesterton. The 19-point win over Class 1A No. 5 Oregon-Davis (10-2) and the 57-49 win over Chesterton (10-2) are good days. The 66-52 loss to LaPorte was not a sunny day, but they do have a win over a good Bishop Noll (8-8) squad. Kristen Cravens (12.0 ppg. and 38 3-point baskets in her first 12 games) can make it rain. North Judson (11-2), St. Joseph’s (10-5) and Oregon-Davis (10-2) are teams that most NW Indiana teams do not seek out to play and the loss to St. Joe was 53-52. This is another strength of schedule ranking.

5. (4A) Chesterton (10-2)
2019 (11-12), 2018 (20-3), 2017 (13-10)

CHESTERTON: Okay, why isn't Chesterton higher than No. 5? What is wrong with the guy making this poll? I just keep looking for the big win that makes me stand up and shout. The Trojans lost to Portage and Munster. No shame. But the best win I can find was probably 48-43 over Kankakee Valley (11-5). Nalani Malackowski scored 13 and Ashley Craycraft (14.4 ppg.) scored 10 in the home win over the Kougars. I just need a couple more good wins here and the opportunity will come. The Trojan girls will play in the Warsaw Holiday Tournament this week where Warsaw (9-5) and Huntington North (10-4) will be ready.

6. (4A) Munster (12-0)
2019 (15-9), 2018 (16-8), 2017 (9-15)

MUNSTER: As you can tell, I don't like Munster against the other teams here. I don't think they’ve played the schedule that Portage, Merrillville or Chesterton has and they won't. Munster had to come from 18 points down to beat Andrean (8-9) and they came from seven behind to beat Hanover Central (10-5). But 12-0 is 12-0 and the tests are coming in the Lake Central holiday tournament when Munster faces Portage (10-5) and battle-tested McCutcheon (6-6) in a 24-hour span. Munster’s 43-33 win over neighbor and arch-rival Lake Central stands tall for them. Seniors Sara (17.7 ppg.) and Emily Zabrecky (12.9 ppg.), both 5-foot-8 senior forwards, have helped the Mustangs ride the high country and junior Aleena Mongerie (11.7 ppg.) averages 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals a game. Down the road is the showdown game at 4A No. 3 Crown Point (17-0) on Jan. 14, but Munster has a dusty road to get there.

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Revised: January 02, 2020 .