AP NEWS

Hoops season comes to a close

March 10, 2019

And that’s a wrap.

As the last second ticked off the clock Saturday morning at North Judson, completing Marquette Catholic’s debated one-point loss to eventual 2A regional champion Andrean, the book was closed on the boys buckets season in La Porte County.

Unlike the girls side, expectations weren’t especially high for postseason glory and the one team -- Marquette -- that had realistic hopes of making a run, did just that, extending its sectional string to six years.

If they’re going to make it seven, it’s going to be a heck of a feat. The Blazers graduate the world, including career scoring leader and four-year mainstay Colin Kenney. Jake Tarnow showed glimpses of what might be in store for the junior guard, but he’ll be surrounded by a community of new faces. Marquette is in a favorable sectional for success, though it faces more questions than it’s had since Donovan Garletts’ early days.

On the other side of town, it’s a glass half, glass half empty perspective with Michigan City, which returns plenty of promise in the batch of young players who received extensive run, but the Wolves graduate their only double-figure scorers in Ray Howard and Jaivion Reid. Lots of questions remain for a program that is still striving to get over the hump. On the plus side, the Duneland Conference and Class 4A Sectional 2 don’t appear to have an alpha team in 2019-20. Sometimes, it’s not just a matter of when you’re good, it’s a matter of how good everybody else is.

Across the county, there’s hope La Porte can continue its uptick. It loses post mainstay Drake Gunn, but returns the Ott-Larges, Garrott and Grant, who could comprise one of the area’s better inside-outside combinations, and point guard Carson Crass. Perennial sectional obstacle Penn, which won Saturday’s M.C. Regional, may take a step back with the graduation of its top players. If there’s a team in the county that poised to make a push, the Slicers are the one.

Westville has a strong core group back in Josh DeChantal, Jace Woods and Jose Jenkins. With that and the new coach transition process behind them, it should improve on this season’s 10-win total in Drew Eubank’s second year on the sidelines. The task for the Blackhawks continues to be an imposing sectional field headed by powerful Gary 21st Century.

It’s a slow, arduous process for Joe Wagner at South Central, but the Satellites appear to be embracing the grinding, blue-collar defensive philosophy that is their template for success. Leading scorer Zack Christy is back and the ceiling is high for 6-foot-7 Brendan Carr, whose flashes of dominance need to become a more consistent occurrence to enable S.C. to gain traction. A double-double average isn’t unrealistic and actually should be a given. The Satellites’ Class A sectional path to success is also not as difficult as its Porter County Conference counterparts.

LaCrosse faces a colossal rebuild with over 80 percent of its scoring headed out the doors.

Like South Central, New Prairie has a specific blueprint it must follow in order to just have a chance to compete in the Northern Indiana Conference and a Class 3A sectional where, in most games, it is going to be losing the physical talent matchup. Chase Ketterer and Braydon Flagg give Cougars coach Kris Davis a starting point as he heads into his second season. His job is the toughest in the county.