Sectional Preview: 2

High School

Posted On: 11/16/17 7:21 PM

The coming high school season is almost upon us. With that, we are taking a look at each Sectional in the state. Starting with 64 and ending with 1. Today, we are previewing Sectional 2.

Chesterton (16-9) – Lost Sectional Semifinals
The previous season was a good one for Chesterton but they are set up to be even better this year. They only lose one senior but bring back all of their key pieces including Ky Palombizio, Austin Peterson, Noah Mahoney, and Jake Wadding.  They have size and depth and should be a team that is among the better teams out of the north and possibly the best in the Region.  They are at the top when it comes to Sectional Contenders this year and could make a run deeper than that if they get lucky.

Hobart (7-17) – Lost 1st Rd. Sectional
Hobart is coming off a season in which they won 7 games and were bounced early on in the playoffs. They graduate a large senior class including some of their top players. It will take some time to rebuild but this is a program that hasn’t had an above average season since 2007-08.  They are in a Sectional that isn’t as difficult as it was a year ago but this is still a team that would have to make big strides to compete this season.

Kankakee Valley (11-12) – Lost 1st Rd. Sectional
For Kankakee Valley, they are sitting in a spot where they will have to completely rebuild. They lost all of their top scorers from last year and only Billy Bonilla, who has 88 career Varsity points, returns. There is a long way to go to get this team back up to a competitive level. Not to mention, they now move from 3A up to 4A and will have a much more difficult time with their competition.  Likely to be a year or two before they can really compete.

Merrillville (21-8) – Lost Semistate Finals
Merrillville has been one of the best teams in the north for the past couple years. Now, though, they are building a bit as they lose a deep senior class.  They lose Jonah Jackson, Mileek McMillian, and Cameron Wilbon.  This is a deep program and so the cupboard isn’t bare with guys like Johnny Bernard and Jaylon Holmes.  They will ask a lot of their underclassmen as they try and step up into serious roles.  They should still be a top team in this Sectional but not as strong as last year when they made it all the way to Semistate.

Michigan City (19-7) – Lost Sectional Semifinals
Michigan City has been a strong program the last few years but like many others in this Sectional, they are going to be rebuilding a bit. They lose a large senior class with guys like Dante Combs, Matt Westman, Keishawn Lewis, Michael Briggs, and Jaronde Boyd.  They bring back very little and will have to start from scratch.  This team does have some younger, talented players but they will be so young that it is going to take time to figure out what they have.  Should be a down year but could show some upside.

Portage (7-17) – Lost 1st Rd. Sectional
Three years ago, you saw Portage win 17 games and almost knocked off Crown Point for a Sectional Championship.  However, the last two years haven’t been nearly as competitive.  This season they have lost their top scorer in Evan Galindo but bring back Maurion Martin and Greg Milledge and that duo could be really good for them. They should be improved from last season and could compete in the middle of this Sectional with teams like Merrillville and Michigan City.

Valparaiso (21-4) – Lost 1st Rd. Sectional
Valparaiso had a big season last year winning 21 games.  They were booted from Sectionals in the first game which was a letdown but this season, they are sitting as a very solid team with a chance to win a lot of games again.  They bring back the best player in the area in Brandon Newman but also have Marcus Gholston, Jack Barrasas, and Nathan Aerts coming back.  They, along with Chesterton, will be the top two teams in this Sectional and if some of Valparaiso’s younger players improve quickly, they could make a run into the second weekend of the tournament.

Contenders For 2017-18: Valparaiso, Chesterton, Merrillville, Portage
Prediction: Valparaiso
Player to Watch: Brandon Newman (Valparaiso)