Six Northwest Indiana boys basketball teams have emerged with sectional championships and are set to engage in regional competition on Saturday. Each local school left standing has taken a very different path to postseason glory.
Class 4A Michigan City Regional Semifinal: Lake Central vs. La Porte, 10 a.m. Saturday
Winner Advances to place Concord/Penn winner in the championship at 7 p.m.
Lake Central (19-3)
After running away with the regular season Duneland Athletic Conference title, Lake Central was the odds on favorite in the Class 4A East Chicago Sectional. The Indians did not disappoint, rolling over Highland 76-39 and East Chicago 70-57 before dominating Munster 53-37 to secure the championship. The Indians’ win over the host Cardinals avenged a lost during the regular season. Lake Central, which was ranked eighth in both the final Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Poll and in the final Class 4A Associated Press Poll, has its eye on a larger prize entering this weekend’s regional activity. Butler-bound senior Tyler Wideman and fellow senior Tye Wilburn are hoping to close their prep careers in style.
La Porte (16-7)
While Lake Central’s sectional championship was anticipated prior to the postseason tipping off, the other local 4A Sectional was very much up for grabs. The La Porte Slicers took full advantage of a wide open Valparaiso Sectional, downing Merrillville 62-49, ousting Chesterton 71-58 and topping Michigan City 67-51. This marked the first time since 2006 that La Porte notched a sectional title. The Slicers had suffered through three straight losing seasons and have made a significant turnaround this year after going 5-16 a season ago.
Class 3A Kankake Valley Regional Semifinal: Bowman Academy vs. Andrean 10 a.m. Saturday
Winner advances to play Twin Lakes / South Bend St. Joseph winner in championship at 8 p.m.
Bowman Academy (19-4)
Defending Class 2A state champion Bowman Academy was bumped up to Class 3A by virtue of the IHSAA’s success factor prior to the season. The Eagles have risen to the challenge, dominating the Hammond Sectional in their first year in the new class. They defeated Lighthouse CPA 111-62, Griffith 80-44 and Lew Wallace 117-78 en route to the title. Senior Anthony Cole posted 20 points in the sectional title game, while Justin King (18) and Davon Dillard (17) joined him in double figures.
Andrean is a much improved team from its 92-52 defeat in its first meeting with Bowman Academy on Dec. 7. After dropping three straight blowout games to open the season, the 59ers have hit their stride late in the year. Andrean edged Kankakee Valley 43-39 before routing Knox 69-46 and topping New Prairie 73-61 in the sectional. Andrean managed to record its fifth straight sectional title despite losing the bulk of its scoring and its head coach from last year’s regional champion team. Frank Podkul, Nick Podkul, Parker Huttel, Colin Flowers, Ben Davidson and Ramon Guerrero are among the contributors to the balanced squad. First-year head coach Scott Hicko has a tall task at hand if he hopes to rally his troops over the Eagles, but Andrean’s season will be considered a success regardless of this weekend’s outcome after cutting down the sectional nets last Saturday.
Class 2A North Judson Regional Semifinal: Bishop Noll vs. Westview 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Winner advances to play Woodlan / Winamac winner at 7:30 p.m.
Bishop Noll (21-3)
Bishop Noll suffered a stunning overtime loss to Marquette on Jan. 10, allowing to Blazers to snatch the regular season Greater South Shore Conference title. Since then, the Warriors have regrouped, rattling off 14 wins in their last 15 games including triumphs over Lake Station, River Forest and Whiting in the Hebron Sectional. The Warriors are led in scoring by senior Larry Crisler, who will play baseball at Indiana University next year. Tyreon Gates has joined Crisler to form a formidable one-two punch. The Warriors took advantage of the fact that Bowman Academy is no longer in Class 2A after falling to the Eagles in the sectional championship each of the last two seasons.
Class 1A Triton Regional Semifinal: Marquette vs. Blackhawk Christian 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Winner Advances to play North White / Culver Community winner at 7 p.m.
Marquette players will never forget the 67-61 upset of Bishop Noll on Jan. 10, but the Greater Southshore Conference champions are hoping more memories are on the horizon entering this weekend’s regional. Marquette needed just two wins – double-digit victories over Washington Township and 21st Century – to secure the Class 1A Morgan Township Sectional. The Blazers roster features Ryan Fazekas, who has committed to play college basketball at Providence next season. Marquette’s sectional title is the second in school history with the first coming in 2000. The Blazers are seeking their first-ever regional crown on Saturday.