It’s now creeping up on the start of the high school season and we are looking to start our series of previews on some of the best teams in the state. Today, Eric Gardner and Kyler Staley join up to start our deep dive into some of these teams.
Our series will take a look at the best teams in the state for each class with our rankings. Starting at #50 and going to #1, we will look at each class ranking across all classes starting now with #35.
1A #35: Washington Twp.
The Senators are coming off a great 17-7 record but have a tough Sectional loss to Gary 21st Century to add to that coming into this season. They only return one of their top four scorers with that player being 6’7 senior power forward, Austin Darnell. Darnell (14.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg), is a very powerful player when in the post area. Look for players like junior guard James Hernandez (5.7 ppg) and senior guard Tyler Hachey (5.3 ppg) to breakout this year and take some pressure off of Darnell in the scoring department. One of the biggest focuses this year for the Senators should be finding the 20 points that outstanding outgoing senior Colin Burton provided them last season. Players will need to step-up in order to have success come Sectional.
2A #35: South Knox
The Spartans will be coming into this season off a fantastic 18-7 record last season. However, this is going to be a new look team as lots of their talent were outgoing seniors last year. Look for players like senior center Walker McCrary and senior small forward Justin Fickling to step-up and play some huge varsity minutes. McCrary is a powerful big man while his teammate, Fickling, is a really good finisher. There will need to be a lot of JV guys that will need to step-up and provide some quality minutes at the varsity level. With all that said, South Knox should still be one of favorites, along with Linton-Stockton, to come out of their Sectional.
3A #35: Fort Wayne Concordia
Coming off a mediocre 12-11 record and tough Sectional loss to Angola, the Cadets will be looking to improve this season. To help with their overall improvement, they return a heavy senior class that has a good amount of varsity experience. All eyes this year will be on Brayden Pearson, who is a senior shooting guard that averaged 13.4 ppg last season. Pearson should be their top player as he is the returning lead scorer and and is a fantastic defender as well. Senior guard Jeren Kindig (2.8 ppg), will be looking to improve his scoring and passing this year as he will need to breakout and be one of the main players for the Cadets. On top of that, lots of JV players will need to come in and fill some crucial roles on varsity. In order to compete in Sectional with a team like Angola, Fort Wayne Concordia will need to figure out its identity, which they can do with great players like Pearson and Kindig leading them.
4A #35: Valparaiso
The Vikings of Valparaiso will be coming into this season coming off a great record of 21-6 but with a tough Sectional Championship loss to Chesterton to add to that. This team could be looking a whole lot more different this upcoming season as a huge chunk of their talent were outgoing seniors last year. The Vikings will be led by great defender Brandon Mack along with Tommy Cavanaugh, who has amazing speed going to basket. A player like senior Luke Balash will need to breakout and provide some leadership for this squad. The team as a whole, however, will need to all step-up if they want to compete this year. Their Sectional will be very competitive and likely be led by Chesterton but, this team has some really good talent that can still have a tremendous season.