2017 Renegade Boys Basketball Week-5 Poll

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


The Trojans could meet Crown Point (6-0) this week in the Noblesvllle Holiday Tournament. (Photo by Mark Smith)

CROWN POINT (12-27-2016) In the first month of the boys basketball season, the expected strength among Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) schools has materialized.

That's always a mixed blessing for Northwest Indiana as a whole because most of the DAC schools are assigned to Class 4A Sectional 2 and are very quickly eliminated from post-season competition.

There is no dominant team already planning their caravan to Indianapolis in March and there is no one superstar player closing out a record breaking career on his way to the Final-4 and the NBA.

But we're looking at a lot of good post-season match-ups in Class 3A and 4A. Off in the distance, Riley (8-0) looms large in Class 4A even though they are not ranked in the Top-10 state wide. The Wildcats, who average 74 points a game, are coming off a 22-6 season.

In 3A, Twin Lakes (7-1) has already defeated 4A power McCutcheon (7-1). In 2A, Wheeler (6-1) hasn't made the Top-10 here, but they have topped everybody but Andrean (6-1).

If I ever win the lottery you all will know because there will again be a television 'Game of the Week' on local TV. Can't tell you how much I miss seeing the local games on TV every Friday night. As I've said here many times, every other part of the state of Indiana has at least one high school basketball game on TV every week. Probably, because this is Indiana we're talking about.

But our local TV station, bless their poor public television hearts, just doesn't feel it's money well spent. I disagree, but I make minimum wage, so I, like you, can't do anything about it.

When people pine for the good old days and wonder about the interest in local sports, remind them that 20 years ago, there was more than one local basketball game on TV every week and now there are none. Not one.

The local holiday tournaments are the annual all-day, one-day playoff at Kankakee Valley with Boone Grove, Rensselaer (4-3) and Whitko (4-4) and the traditional 8-team Highland tournament, which begins on Dec. 27 and feature defending champ Griffith (6-0) and Munster (4-3). The problem there is: Munster and Griffith figure to meet Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. We're going to have to work on that 'blind draw'. I've gotten a late start on the polls this year, but there should be one every week the rest of the way.

1. (4A) Crown Point (6-0)
2016 (19-9) 2015 (19-9), 2014 (12-9), 2013 (5-16)

CROWN POINT: I don't think I've ever had Crown Point at the top of this poll, but the Bulldogs have seen only good times so far with wins over Bowman, Penn, Munster and East Chicago. Crown Point got 28 from Sasha Stefanovic (20.5 ppg.) against East Chicago. 6-foot-4 forward Kenny Decker (14 ppg.) scored 16 in the win over Munster on Dec. 16. The Bulldogs came from 19 points behind to beat Pike 72-59 on Dec. 10. Crown Point, which starts four seniors, lost a game they didn't play when the weather prevented a game against Warsaw on Dec. 17. The Bullodgs head to Noblesville where they'll open up against Columbus East on Dec. 27 in the annual Christmas tournament. CP could meet host Noblesville (3-3) or Chesterton (6-1) in the semifinals and Columbus North (5-1) in the title game on Dec. 28.

2. (4A) Chesterton (6-1)
2016 (16-9) 2015 (17-9), 2014 (12-10)

CHESTERTON: This has been a surprise as the Trojans have topped Lowell (4-3), Lighthouse (5-3)and East Chicago (4-5). The Trojans haven't met Valpo (Feb. 17), Merrillville (Jan. 6) or Crown Point (Jan. 20) yet. I wish I'd have seen the 105-103 four overtime win at EC. Junior forward Austin Peterson hit six three-point shots and scored 32 points. Peterson scored 26 against Lowell. The only loss was 60-48 to Bowman. The Trojans looks very good but it's a good year in the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC). Chesterton and CP head for the Noblesville Holiday Tournament over the holidays where they could meet in the semifinals. The Trojans play host Noblesville on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

3. (4A) Valpo (6-0)
2016 (18-6), 2015 (20-4), 2014 (12-10), 2013 (10-11)

VALPARAISO: The Vikings had six games before Christmas and they won them all, including a 65-56 win over Lowell, where Jay Bisacky scored 16 and a 67-62 victory over East Chicago when Adrian Casaday scored 15 on five 3-point shots. The Vikings never seem to have a small team and they don't have one now unless Bisacky, 6-foot-6 Trace Ramsey and 6-foot-3 Michael Mann take the night off. Neither team will be unbeaten at that time, but undefeated Valpo (6-0) at undefeated Crown Point (6-0) is set for the night of Feb. 10.

4. (4A) Merrillville (6-1)
2016 (22-2), 2015 (18-9), 2014 (4-16), 2013 (22-4)

MERRILLVILLE: Merrillville lost 69-67 to East Chicago, but have won their other four games including an 88-79 victory over neighborhood rival Andrean (5-1). Merrillville has senior power up front with 6-foot-7 Mileek McMillan, 6-foot-4 Cameron Wilbon and 6-foot-4 football star Kam Jackson. The Pirates' only other loss is to McCutcheon (6-1) by the score of 77-74. The Pirates average 74 points a game and they will press and run with anyone. The Pirates play Leo and Norwell on Dec. 29, the opening day of the Columbia City/Huntington North holiday tournament. Merrillville will play four times in the holiday tournament before they travel to Chesterton on Jan. 6.

5. (3A) Andrean (5-1)
2016 (9-15), 2015 (14-11), 2014 (13-10), 2013 (22-4)

MERRILLVILLE: Andrean has only one 9-point loss to Merrillville so far. Guard Jeron Tatum (13.3 ppg.) was 15 of 19 from the line after six games with 19 steals. And Tarik Dixon (12.3 ppg.) had just nine turnovers in six games. 6-foot-2 junior Curtis Jones (12.7 ppg.) scored 20 in a 63-50 win over KV. 5-foot-7 Will Carey (9.8 ppg.) has three assists per game. The Niners don't have much size, but they can run and defend well. The 59ers could go a long way in Class 3A. Andrean faces struggling Chicago power Mount Carmel (1-4) at Calumet high school.

6. (4A) East Chicago (4-5)
2016 (18-6), 2015 (20-4), 2014 (12-10), 2013 (10-11)

EAST CHICAGO: EC has taken some early losses, but I'm not buying the line that this is a bad team. The losses have been to Crown Point (6-0), Valparaiso (6-0), Chesterton (6-1), Michigan City (4-2) and Indianapolis Tech (3-2). The Cards face (Evansville) Bosse (6-2) in the North Central Holiday Tournament in Indianapolis and if they are 'lucky' enough, they can also play the host North Central Panthers (6-0), the state's top-ranked 4A school. The Cardinals step across the state line to play undefeated TF North (4-0) in Calumet City the night of Jan. 6.

7. (4A) LOWELL (6-3)
2016 (20-7), 2015 (11-14), 2014 (16-5), 2013 (9-13)

LOWELL: Lowell has played a lot of Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) schools early and they took three losses, but the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) title is a possibility. 6-foot-3 senior Nick Mantis (25.7 ppg.) and lead guard John Cory (15.7 points, 3.9 assists per game) lead a team that have 45 3-pointers in seven games. Lowell is fun to watch because no lead is safe whether they are ahead or behind. The Devils invade the big gym in Caston on Dec. 29 to try to win the eight-team Caston Holiday Tournament for the second year in a row. Are they better than Griffith (6-0)? We will see on Jan. 13.

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Revised: December 25, 2016 .