Hutton: Full court press: 10 high school hoops storylines
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org January 3, 2013 11:12PM
Chesterton's Corey Rusboldt (left) is guarded by Lake Central's Tye Wiburn (middle) and Tyler Wideman in the second quarter of play during their game held at Chesterton High School on Tuesday December 12, 2012. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 5, 2013 6:39AM
My top 10 high school basketball storylines going into 2013.
1. The Andrean 59ers. Yes, those 59ers — the only 59ers I know of anywhere — have played lights out basketball in the first half of the season and, yes, they surprised yours truly with the victory of the year on Merrillville’s home floor. The come-from-behind win against the Pirates was special — more so than the win over Bowman at home — because Merrillville plays five seniors, the Pirates are very good and they were on their home floor.
The 59ers get it done with a bulldozer of a point guard in Nick Davidson, the player of the year so far. Davidson is averaging 23 points and nine rebounds per game. He makes his living by banging around inside like a center.
Look for the 59ers to head into the Penn game on Feb. 2 undefeated at 15-0. Look for the Munster game at Andrean on Feb. 15 to be a classic.
2. The chemistry problem at Lake Central. There is still time for the Indians to figure out how all the parts fit together, but this is a team that should be better than .500. Why? Because Tyler Wideman, Tye Wilburn and Mike Miklusak are three guys that could play and start for any team, anywhere in Northwest Indiana. They obviously miss Glenn Robinson III, but they still have the kind of talent that should drift upward toward the top of the pack, not somewhere near the middle.
3. Private school perfection. Yes, it’s also true that Bishop Noll is 8-0 this season. It was perfectly alright to sweep the Warriors under the rug for the first part of their schedule, which frankly didn’t challenge them much. But victories over New Haven and Noblesville in the Noblesville Tournament — both of them are 4A schools — has lifted them into a different category.
Larry Crisler lit up New Haven and VJ Beachem, a Notre Dame recruit, for 35 points. Time to start taking the Warriors seriously
4. East Chicago? The Cardinals fall into a similar category as Lake Central. Feels like they should be better than 3-5 because they have a sophomore point guard, Hyron Edwards, that has offers from Indiana, Purdue and Illinois already, and two other starters returning from a pretty good team last year.
They have played a difficult early season schedule, with games on the road against Michigan City and South Bend Clay, but they also lost at home to Indianapolis Broad Ripple and by 18 to Munster. Time for them to dial it up.
5. Munster still the standard. Ok, for most of last year, Lake Central was the bar but the Mustangs were right there. This year, the consistent Mustangs, like the sun, which typically rises in the morning, unless it rains and it’s covered by clouds, is perhaps the best team in the region, with Merrillville and Andrean hovering right there.
Mike Schlotman is a strong, tough point guard, Nate Bubash is a strong, tough inside player and Drew Hackett is a strong, tough son of a coach and a whip-smart guard who knows how to maximize his potential. There are other players that fit well into the Munster system, which is like a switch that Mike Hackett can flip on when the season starts.
6. Bowman’s schedule. The 2-7 Eagles’ slate makes it impossible to know how good they are. The brutality of the schedule can’t be understated: They have lost to Indianapolis Tech (9-1), Hamilton Southeastern (8-1), Andrean (8-0), North Central (6-3), Evansville North (6-2), Ben Davis (7-1) and Lawrence Central (2-4). Every team they have played is in a larger class. Seven of the games have been on the road.
They simply play for the tournament. I sometimes wonder if the schedule is too hard. Kids need to win sometimes for their confidence.
7. Pirates’ pretty play. Merrillville’s mastery of its own game plan is beautiful to watch. No team is more fun to watch when it’s going well for them. So far, the season has been a symphony like for the Pirates, aside from a late game snafu against Andrean when they let a double-digit lead slip away. Their double-deuce defense (TJ Lux’s term for it) is a hornet’s nest for teams that have trouble with pressure.
BJ Jenkins, at 5-11, 160, is pound-for-pound the best all-around player in the region. The Pirates also pass the ball well collectively as a team.
8. What’s the deal with Crown Point? Sorry, Bulldogs fans, but it’s a fair question to ask. I had them pegged as a top-five team in the region at the start of the year. They are big (Bret Barclay and Tom Bardeson) and they seem to have enough good players to compete in the DAC but, at 3-5, they have struggled. Take heart. They started out 2-6 and then 4-8 last year before finishing the regular season 11-9.
9. How far can Marquette go? The Blazers are my pick to move along the furthest in the tournament because Class 1A seems the most vulnerable this year. How many 1A teams in the area boast two starters that are 6-8 (Ryan Fazekas and Jasmin Bibervic) with college potential? They also have an established point guard in Nathan Flores.
10. Will the Trojans grow up? At what point does Chesterton become an older team? Could be the second half of the season. Everybody I know loves the Trojans’ talent (Matt Holba, Cole Teal, Chris Palombizio) and their potential. They are still 4-4, though, which isn’t completely surprising. They do have a big win over Lake Central under their belt but a disappointing loss at home to Valparaiso as well. People are watching and wondering if they will break out in the second half.