AP NEWS

A special year in girls hoops

February 25, 2019

The curtain came down on the Indiana high school girls basketball season Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with Marquette Catholic bringing its second consecutive Class A state title back to La Porte County.

This neck of the woods was buckets central for the ladies this season, the Blazers’ encore highlighting a year in which six of the seven teams in the county boundaries posted winning records.

Michigan City won 20 games and came within a basket of a 4A sectional championship and finished second in the Duneland Athletic Conference, while La Porte withstood an extended absence of its best player due to injury to finish 16-8. South Central was the Porter County tournament titlist and garnered a Class A crown before bowing out against Marquette. LaCrosse showed there was life after Justene Charlesworth, carving out a dozen wins, while Westville continues to gain traction as a program, posting its third straight plus-.500 record (13-9).

Of course, the Blazers were the crowning achievement, its once-in-a-lifetime senior class punctuating a historic four-year stretch in which it won 99 games, four sectionals, three regionals and two semistates, in addition to state twice. Cynics will say what they will about how it all came about, but the best girls basketball postseason run we’ve seen won’t be soon, if ever, matched.

Just to show that timing isn’t everything, Marquette will bump up to 2A next season as a result of the success factor, while most of its talent departs. That seemingly opened the door for South Central to take its turn at Class A supremacy locally, but enrollment projections indicate that the Satellites will be moving up to 2A, meaning they’ll go from having to deal with the Blazers to probably having to get through North Judson to go deep in the tournament. S.C.’s promising core is young, so it will win plenty again in 2019-2020, but its tournament task isn’t going to get any easier. Westville is also expected to take a step up the class ladder with the Satellites, so it’ll be interesting to see how next season’s sectionals will align with three teams moving up.

In the end, the shakeup could benefit LaCrosse the most as it remains in Class A with other hopefuls Morgan Township and Oregon-Davis.

Here’s hoping better days are ahead for New Prairie as well.

No team is hit harder by graduation than the Blazers, who say goodbye to all of their starters, notably the St. John’s-bound Nolan twins and their 3,950 or so points, but Michigan City and La Porte both have to replace program-changing players. Riley Ott (Purdue Fort Wayne) leaves the Slicers as their No. 2 all-time scorer, while Hannah Noveroske (Xavier) exits City atop its career points list. LP will turn to Ott’s sister, Ryin, to shoulder the load, while the Wolves will do the same with Trinity Thompson.

Before we lock away the 28.5 Evolutions, there is still some basketball to be played for the girls. Several area players are part of Hoosier Basketball’s Top 100 list and it would be criminal if the Nolans and Noveroske don’t join forces on the Indiana All-Stars. Wouldn’t that be fun? Riley Ott would’ve stood a good chance to add to the fun without her time missed. Three all-stars from LP County would be unprecedented, yet a fitting end to a special season.

We’ll wrap it up with a look back at our top players later this week.