Next stop for Trojans: Michigan City Regional

Left to right, Travis Grayson, George Vrahoretis, Owen Guest and Chris Mullen enjoy the final moments of Chesterton’s Divisional Championship win over Portage from the bench. TOBY GENTRY/Picture

Sixteen schools remain in pursuit of the 4A state championship. At the end of Saturday night’s regional action, only four will be standing.

Chesterton is the only remaining among those who finished in the top three in the latest Associated Press poll. Westfield knocked out No. 2 Fishers and No. 3 Carmel in the busy Noblesville area. That leaves No. 1 Chesterton, No. 4 Homestead, No. 5 Ben Davis and No. 6 Penn as the top-ranked schools.

The Michigan City area is the only one of the four to feature two top-six teams. Chesterton and Penn will only meet if they can both win the day session semifinals.

Chesterton takes on South Bend Adams at 10 a.m. Saturday in Michigan City and Penn is scheduled to take on Munster at noon. The winners will return to the gymnasium to play their second match of the day, this one for the regional title, at 7 p.m.

Ticket sales continue Thursday and Friday at Chesterton High from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the general public at the Gate 1 ticket counter (7:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. for CHS students) . Tickets are $10 each and will be good for all three games at Michigan City. Depending on availability, remaining tickets will be sold at the door. Doors open at 9 a.m. for the Chesterton-South Bend Adams game and 6 p.m. for the championship game. All regional games will be broadcast on Search for “Michigan City High School”.

A look at the four teams vying for the Michigan City Regional Championship:

 School: Chesterton
Mascot: Trojans
Record: 26-0
Coach: Marc Urbain (121-30, .801)
Associated Press 4A rating: 1
IBCA ranking all classes: 1
Sagarin’s recent ranking: 3
Average rating margin: 23.8
Winning Streak: 26
Top scorer: Travis Grayson (19.0)
Section championships: 5
Regional championships: 0
State Championships: 0

The lean: Sixth-year coach Marc Urban’s .801 winning percentage ranks second in Indiana among active men’s basketball coaches with at least 50 wins, behind only Carmel’s Ryan Osborn (.820). Urban lets his players think for themselves, gets them to share those thoughts, lets them know how he sees it, and in doing so nurtures their growth and confidence. Players’ eagerness to watch a movie on their own maximizes the effectiveness of this teaching method. “As coaches, we want to make sure we’re right,” Urban said. So he hears what they see on tape, sees it through that prism, and together they map out a plan for improvement. The result is that Urban has a roster he claims is the most “connected” he has ever coached. The result is a team that, after 26 games in the season, has had an answer for every style of play, a team that has no glaring weaknesses, a team that functions effectively in clutch situations. It all starts with top executives Travis Grayson, point guard and center Chris Mullen. Their selfless play and relentless effort can only have a contagious impact on the rest of the roster. The Trojans are at their best when their defense leads to offense and they play at a fast pace. But when teams take that away, which happens with more regularity as the playoffs drag on, they can get things done in the half court, where it all starts with the relentlessly penetrating point guard. Travis Grayson. He puts defenders in retreat mode and when he leaves his feet near the rim hanging in the air for so long, he does a great job of shooting fouls. On the other end, Grayson defends aggressively without fail, a juggling act that is rare for high school athletes. Even if the Trojans face a team with better basketball players, they have a good chance of playing better basketball to compensate.

 School: South Bend Adams
Mascot: Eagles
File: 14-12
Coach: Chad Johnston (280-181, .607)
Associated Press 4A rating: NR
IBCA classification all classes: NR
Sagarin’s recent ranking: 84
Record against teams Chesterton played: 3-1,
including 1-1 against Michigan City.
Average rating margin: 3
Winning Streak: 8
Top scorer: Tommy Snyder (22.2)
Section championships: 14
Regional Championships: 1
State Championships: 0

The lean: Down 19 points in the third quarter of the Section Final at Plymouth, Adams used a 14-0 run to start a comeback that culminated in a 78-71 victory over Michigan City, who needed more than the 36 points Jamie Hodges junior gave them. advance to regional in their swanky gymnasium.

A Chesterton defense that has allowed just 46 points in the last six quarters in the Portage Division will face a tougher challenge at regionals. Adams scored 55 points in the second half against Michigan City and showed what he can do when an opponent isn’t buttoned up to take care of the basketball and/or come back on defense. The Eagles attack relentlessly in transition and in the half court, everything goes through 6-foot-5 Tommy Snyder. Particularly productive on the offensive glass, Snyder leads the Eagles in rebounding (13.8). Brittain Vann, who scored 21 points in Michigan City’s comeback, is averaging 13.5 points per game, and Rashad Simpson (19 points against City) is averaging 7.7. Adams’ season followed a similar path to his last game in that it got off to a rocky start (6-12, including a 1-7 streak) but ended strong (8- 0).

 School: Penn
Mascot: Kingsmen
Record: 23-2
Coach: Al Rhodes (664-317, .677)
Associated Press 4A rating: 6
IBCA ranking all classes: 9
Sagarin’s recent ranking: 10
Record against teams Chesterton played: 8-1,
including a 74-73 defeat against Valparaiso.
Average rating margin: 18.4
Winning Streak: 12
Top scorer: Markus Burton (27.2)
Section championships: 17
Regional championships: 7
State Championships: 1

The lean: Burton is a lethal scorer who finishes in the hoop, shooting for mid-range jumpers and when hot, shooting 3-pointers. And he is much more than a goalscorer. He leads the Kingsmen in rebounds (6.1), assists (5.1) and steals (3.2).

Veteran college coach Bruce Weber, in the hot seat at Kansas State and on the short list of coaching candidates at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, saw 6-foot Burton light up Warsaw for 26 points in the first division game, giving him 62 in two games against the Tigers this season.

“I feel like nobody can keep me,” Burton told reporters after visiting Weber.

Burton is flanked by deadly 3-point shooters Joe Smith (13.2 ppg), also good at hoop driving, and Joey Garwood (9.5). The three juniors on the perimeter are joined by the slender 6-7 Josh Gatete and the beefy and skilled Cole Wojciechowski 6-9 inside. Penn ranks sixth in the state in points (71.6).

Rhodes, who won a state tournament while coaching in Warsaw, is in his 41st season as head coach and ranks fourth in the state in wins among active coaches.

The last time Chesterton won a section, in 2019, Penn ended the Trojans’ season in the regional semifinals at Michigan City, 49-42.

 School: Munster
Mascot: Mustangs
Record: 22-4
Coach: Mike Hackett (413-122, .772)
Associated Press 4A rating: NR
IBCA classification all classes: NR
Sagarin’s recent ranking: 41
Record against teams Chesterton has played: 13-3
Average rating margin: 14.7
Winning Streak: 9
Top scorer: Brandon Trilli (21.1)
Section championships: 12
Regional championships: 2
State Championships: 0

The lean: Hackett’s winning percentage is fourth-best in the state among coaches with at least 50 wins. He has a well-deserved reputation for making below average teams, average teams, average teams above average, and above average teams really good.

At Trilli, Hackett has a star player who leads the team not only in scoring but also in rebounding (7.5). Trilli left Arizona for his junior season and is playing where his father, Mike, is in the school’s 1,000 point club. A versatile 6-5 forward with a soft shooting touch, Trilli is complemented by senior guard Sean Kimble (11.0 ppg) and sophomores David Cundiff (9.5) and Noah Kinsella (8, 3).

The Mustangs went 4-3 against the DAC Schools, sweeping a pair of Lake Central, beating Merrillville by 29 points, splitting a pair with Portage and losing to Crown Point and Valparaiso. A relatively young team, the Mustangs have improved a lot over the season, which they showed by winning their second games against Lake Central and Gary West Side by much bigger margins than the first time they played them. .

Northwest Crossroads Conference champion Munster qualified for the region by beating West Side by 30 points, Hammond Central by 20 and host Lake Central by 15.

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