2017 Renegade Boys Basketball 'Magnificent 7' Week-10 Poll

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

02-09-2017

Nobody has more victories than Valparaiso so far this season. The Vikings (18-2), who lead the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) play at Crown Point Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

CROWN POINT (02-09-2017) In my years watching the big boys play ball, the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) has expanded the amount of games any team can play from 20 to (now) 24. I don't believe the season is any longer. You're simply allowed to play more games.

I am all for it. In Illinois, teams can play as many as 28 games. The season is over three months long.
With that said, I would like to see the entire season pushed back, so the post-season begins in the second week of March. Why?

1.) Because you can. There are very few real IHSAA events (I don't count indoor track as a real event and they don't even keep score, so they don't either) in March.

2.) So the football season can end before the basketball season begins. The boys shouldn't be playing the week of the football finals.

3.) So the Boys don't have to play on Thursday night. During the first week of the IHSAA girls tournament, the girls play sectional semifinals Friday and finals Saturday. So, boys teams must play Thursday night and Saturday afternoon during girls sectional week.

Stop it. You don't have to do it. Push the entire boys season back one week into unoccupied prep sports time and it's a win-win. I think eventually we'll do this, but remember, we live in Indiana, a state that stands proudly 20 years behind the times on almost everything.

The Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) has seven of their eight teams at 11-7 or better with two weeks to play. Chesterton (11-7) is seventh in league play. The Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) has six teams with 10 losses or more, but did you know River Forest (13-3) and Wheeler (14-4) were a combined 27-6?

Oustide Northwest Indiana, South Bend Riley (16-0) is still undefeated, but they have a Feb. 21 game in South Bend against (Fort Wayne) North (19-1). Riley is in 4A Sectional 3 with LaPorte (14-4) and Adams (14-5). Fort Wayne North can't face a Northwest Indiana team until the semistate. McCutcheon (17-2) and Logansport (19-1) are both in 4A Sectional 7 so they'd see Riley at the regional.

In 3A, No. 2 Culver Academy (13-1) and No. 3 Northwood (15-1) are both in 3A Sectional 21 so they also can't see a NW Indiana team until the semistate. Twin Lakes (17-2) could see Griffith (15-3) at the regional, but only if they get past Andrean (13-3).

Let's see what teams need to get when the sectional draw is revealed on Feb. 19.


1. (4A) Crown Point (16-3)
2016 (19-9) 2015 (19-9), 2014 (12-9), 2013 (5-16)

CROWN POINT: Crown Point lost a Saturday night game at 4A No. 5 Warren Central (15-1) but the Bulldogs have still won six of eight since the first of the year. The Bulldogs turned back Andrean 73-61 Tuesday night. The only losses are to WC, 4A No. 10 Pike (15-4) and Michigan City (16-6). After a Tuesday night date with Andrean (13-2), the Bulldog will play for the DC title at home against 4A No. 11 Valparaiso (18-2) on Feb. 10 and South Lake County rival Lowell (12-7) on Feb. 24. Of CP's 18 games against 17 different teams, only the wins over Bowman, Boone Grove, Columbus East and (South Bend) Washington have been against teams with losing records. The last 20-win season I can find for Crown Point was when they were 21-3 in 1969.

WHAT DO THEY NEED?

CP needs a first round bye so they don't have to make three trips to Michigan City in sectional play. The Bulldogs have a short bench. They don't need to play 3 sectional games if they can avoid it. It also wouldn't hurt them if Merrillville draws Valpo in first round play.


2. (4A) Valpo (18-2)
2016 (18-6), 2015 (20-4), 2014 (12-10), 2013 (10-11)

VALPARAISO: Valparaiso is ranked ahead of Crown Point in the weekly state polls and has been most of the season. The Vikings have won eight in a row since a 51-48 loss to Penn (8-8). Valpo was 8-0 when they lost a Holiday tournament game to Merrillville (13-6), but the Vikings won a DAC rematch over the Pirates 63-56 last month. Valparaiso is 60-12 in the lost three seasons. In games decided by 10 points or less this season, the Vikings are 9-2. The Vikings have been eliminated at the sectional level by Crown Point in each of the last two seasons. So this Friday's game at Crown Point, with the DAC title on the line, is obviously a very big one for them.

WHAT DO THEY NEED?

The bye would also be big for the Vikings even though they don't have to travel as far as Merrillville or Crown Point. Valpo doesn't want a third meeting with Merrillville right away. The Vikings play at a pace where playing three times in five days won't wear them down.


3. (4A) Merrillville (13-6)
2016 (22-2), 2015 (18-9), 2014 (4-16), 2013 (22-4)

MERRILLVILLE: Merrillville hit a bit of a slide, losing road games in league play at Valparaiso and Lake Central. All six of the Pirates' losses are by seven points or less. They are a little better than their record would suggest. The Pirates lost 63-56 to Valpo when they made just 10 of 20 free throws. Jonah Jackson sank four three-point baskets, but the Pirates trailed 46-31 after three quarters. The Pirates hit the road to play at Warsaw (13-6) on Feb. 11 and they host Penn to end the regular season on Feb. 24.

WHAT DO THEY NEED?

The Pirates are in the same position as Crown Point. It's a long drive to Michigan City. In a seven team sectional, one team gets a bye. Merrillville wants to be that one team, although they have more depth than most teams in Sectional 2.


4. (4A) Michigan City (16-6)
2016 (12-11), 2015 (14-9), 2014 (14-9)

MICHIGAN CITY: The Wolves are 16-6 overall, but 2-3 in the Duneland Conference (DAC), which does not speak well for their chances in sectional play next month. MC has five losses by 10 points or less and the defeats have come to good teams: Merrillville (13-6), Valpo (18-2), Chesterton (11-7), LaPorte (14-5), (Harvey, Ill.) Thornton (14-4) and (South Bend) Riley (15-0). Michigan City only has two games to play in the final three weeks, so they won't be tired when they start their playoffs.

WHAT DO THEY NEED?

Michigan City hosts the 7-team Class 4A Sectional 2, so a bye isn't as big a deal for them as it is for everybody else. There's a school of thought that says you don't want a bye in a playoff tournament. That you want to keep playing. It's a bad school. A school that should be closed by the state. EVERYBODY wants a bye in a sectional tournament.


5. (3A) Griffith (15-3)
2016 (25-4), 2015 (19-4), 2014 (16-7), 2013 (11-11)

GRIFFITH: On the surface, Griffith had very beatable teams in the final three weeks of the season and they should roll past the 20-win mark on the season. But the Panthers stumbled 63-57 at rival Hammond last Tuesday (2-7-2017). The Panthers only other losses are to Crown Point (16-3) and East Chicago (10-7) and it's unlikely they'll be challenged the rest of the way. But sectional play in Class 3A Sectional 17 play is at Hammond (12-7). Wins over Andrean 55-53 and Munster 57-43 clinched the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) championship for the third year in a row. Here's a team that graduated its top three scorers from last year and the record is just as good.

WHAT DO THEY NEED?

To lay low. The Panthers' upset loss to Hammond may work in their favor since the rematch is in sectional play. That's assuming that Griffith is still the better team. Take it easy and we should still see the Panthers at the regional for the fourth year in a row.


6. (3A) Andrean (13-3)
2016 (9-15), 2015 (14-11), 2014 (13-10), 2013 (22-4)

MERRILLVILLE: Andrean won a big one 90-87 over East Chicago and they've still only lost to Griffith (15-2), Merrillville (13-6) and Crown Point (16-3). I'd throw out the 83-56 win at Lowell because Lowell star Nick Mantis (21 ppg.) didn't play. I'd write off the loss to Crown Point, a team they don't match up with. To my knowledge, Andrean has not rescheduled the Catholic 'Super Bowl' matchup with Lafayette Catholic (11-5) and they could use that game. The 59ers' schedule this year isn't as strong as it has been in the past. Some of it has to do with weakness in the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) this season but they could have lined up some tougher foes.

WHAT DO THEY NEED?

Andrean wouldn't mind if Wheeler (14-4) drew Twin Lakes (16-2) in the first round of the 6-team Class 3A Sectional 18 in Rensselaer. But more than that, the 59eers badly need a bye so they don't have to make three trips to Jasper County. You don't know how far it is from Merrillville to Rensselaer until it rains or snows and then it's an adventure.


7. (4A) Lake Central (12-8)
2016 (13-12), 2015 (13-10), 2014 (22-4), 2013 (16-8)

ST. JOHN: Even though Lowell has defeated LC, LC's recent three-game win streak over Merrillville, (South Bend) Clay and East Chicago jumps them into the poll. LC was 5-5 and then 9-8. Along with the win over Merrillville, LC has topped Warsaw (13-6) and LaPorte (14-5). Baseball star Joe Graziano scored 23 in the triple overtime loss to Chesterton and he had 18 in the 66-60 win over East Chicago. It's taken LC some time to get going, but they've won seven of their last 10 and there are a lot of teams in their sectional they can beat.

WHAT DO THEY NEED?

A first round bye in 4A Sectional 1. LC doesn't need three trips up to East Chicago. I also think LC would like to draw Lowell, a team that is 3-0 against Lake Central in the past two years.


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Revised: February 09, 2017 .