posttrib
POWERFUL 
Weather Updates

Boys basketball: Chesterton surprises Valpo; Slicers top Pirates

Chesterton's Cole Teal heads downcourt matchup against Valparaiso during second night Class 4A sectional Valparaiso High School Wednesday March 5

Chesterton's Cole Teal heads downcourt in a matchup against Valparaiso during the second night of the Class 4A sectional at Valparaiso High School on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 63059527
tmspicid: 22706375
fileheaderid: 10962561
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: April 7, 2014 1:33PM



VALPARAISO — Chris Palombizio hobbled out of the Chesterton locker room with a pair of crutches supporting him.

“All hail Cole Teal,” he yelled to his buddy, who was talking to a group of reporters.

Palombizio, who fractured his ankle in the Trojans’ victory over Valparaiso at the end of the season, was the reason that most people believed the Trojans would lose early in tournament play.

No one except the Chesterton players and coaches knew that Teal was the guy that wouldn’t let them lose.

Teal was the unstoppable, uncontrollable force for Chesterton in its 45-37 victory over the Vikings in the opening round of the Valparaiso Sectional. Chesterton plays LaPorte in the second semifinal Friday.

It seemed like the Vikings had every psychological advantage a team could have in this matchup.

They were playing at home.

Palombizio was out.

And they had won three of their last four games.

They couldn’t, however, account for the determination and the sheer force of Teal’s game.

He was clearly the best player on the floor in terms of athleticism and pure desire. The Vikings knew it but they couldn’t do anything about it.

Teal scored 23 points — that included all 10 of the Trojans’ points in the pivotal third quarter after Valparaiso had clawed back into the game.

After trailing by as many as seven, the Vikings finally tied it at 22 on a layup by Justin Osburn with 4:16 left.

It took Teal 28 seconds to answer with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

Chesterton coach Tom Peller said it was mostly Teal.

“He just willed us to win,” Peller said.

The Trojans had the underdog mentality working for them all week.

No one expected much.

Teal said the whole day was a blur, waiting for the moment. He certainly made the wait worth it.

“All day in school, I couldn’t pay attention,” he said. “Games just don’t get bigger than this.”

Another key factor for the Trojans was the play of Andrew Ralph. Ralph dogged Justin Osburn, the Vikings’ leading scorer, the whole game and held him to four points.

In the night cap, LaPorte held off a scrappy and young Merrillville team for a 64-49 victory.

The Pirates (4-16) were way more trouble than the Slicers wanted to deal with.

LaPorte quickly opened up an eight point second quarter lead after Gage Ott, who finished with 21 points, made a pair of free throws.

The Pirates whittled the lead down to a point with a little over a minute left in the half after Marcel Cherry scored.

The lead for LaPorte went up and down like that through the first three quarters with Merrillville pulling to within a point midway through the third.

In the fourth quarter, Ott and Josh Fleming, the Slicers’ dynamic point guard, took over. Fleming finished with 23. The two combined for 14 of LaPorte’s 23 points in the final quarter.

“I’ll take 44 from those two any time,” LaPorte coach Tom Wells said.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.