2020 'Pick 6' Renegade
Girls Basketball Week Ten (10) Poll

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


CP's Jessica Carrothers will miss an indefinite amount of time for unbeaten Crown Point with an ankle injury. The Lady Bulldogs travel to Merrillville Saturday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

CROWN POINT (01-15-2020) January is the hardest part of the year for everybody. The days are short and the nights are long. It's colder than walking home by yourself and spring is so far in the future you can't see it from here.

It’s probably the same way for high school basketball teams. The holidays are in the rear view mirror and the state tournament is a star in the north sky. You practice and play and check the days off on the calendar.

So it's not a surprise when high-flying teams trip up in the dark month. Some days, undefeated teams.

Last Saturday was one of those days. Indianapolis superpower Lawrence North (19-1) saw their 19-game winning streak end 44-30 at Homestead (16-1) on Jan 11. High-flying Fishers (16-1) was forced to land after a 73-54 home loss to North Central (13-7) on Jan. 11.

Downstate small-town power Shenandoah (16-1) found rough waters for the first time in a 52-48 loss to Tri High (11-6). Same day. Jan. 11.

I know that high school teams get absolutely nothing for an undefeated regular season. No prizes. No gift cards. No banners on the wall.

But that doesn’t mean it's an easy thing to do. In Northwest Indiana in 2020, Crown Point (20-0) and Knox (18-0) are only unbeaten girls teams remaining in the cold, dark days of January.

Let’s see if they win the ‘championship’ for which there is no trophy.

1. (4A) Crown Point (20-0)
2019 (28-1), 2018 (13-11), 2017 (16-9), 2016 (20-6)

CROWN POINT: The road is getting a little rocky for the top-rated CP girls. After losing starting guard Alyna Santiago for the season with a knee injury, CP lost top scorer Jessica Carrothers on January 14 with an ankle injury. It isn’t certain how much time Carrothers, who averages 20.3 points per game, will miss, but the final four teams on the CP schedule: Merrillville (11-7), Kankakee Valley (11-7), Chesterton (14-3) and Bishop Noll (8-9) all have reason to think they can stop the 20-game CP winning streak. Senior Dash Shaw (14.5 ppg.) scored 20 in CP’s 52-33 win over Munster (15-4) and the Lady Bulldogs also have a top starting lineup with 6-foot-3 Lilly Stoddard and 6-foot-1 Abby Stoddard. Shaw was the floor general at Gary West Side last year and she probably won't be shy about leading the short-handed Lady Bulldogs now. But the Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) may come down to that game Jan. 24 matching CP (20-0, 5-0 DAC) with Chesterton (14-3, 4-1 DAC).

2. (4A) Portage (15-5)
2019 (12-14), 2018 (14-12), 2017 (11-16)

PORTAGE: Portage is third in the DAC, but second in the poll here with wins over Chesterton (14-3), Munster (15-4), Oregon-Davis (13-3), Winamac (12-7), and Elkhart Central (13-5). The Indians hit mid-January with a six-game winning streak including a three-game triumph at the Lake Central Holiday tournament. After 15 games, Portage had made 151 3-point baskets (151 of 463, 33%) led by 5-foot-10 senior Kristen Cravens (65 of 163), a 40% long ball specialist. Cravens (11.1 ppg.) is complimented nicely by 5-foot-6 junior guard Jordan Barnes (11.1 ppg.). This team can rock the house and they host the six-team Class 4A Sectional 2 with CP (20-0) and Chesterton (14-3) as invited guests.

3. (4A) Chesterton (14-3)
2019 (11-12), 2018 (20-3), 2017 (13-10)

CHESTERTON: Chesterton lost to Huntington North (14-3) over the holidays, but they can still ride the Trojan horse to the DAC title with January wins over LaPorte (11-6) and Crown Point (20-0).
Senior guard Ashley Craycraft (13.5 ppg.) and forward Emma Schmidt (10.8 ppg.) lead a team that has allowed just 38 points a game. They didn’t play the schedule Portage and Merrillville did. Not yet, anyway. In the final two weeks of the season Chesterton rides the big, yellow bus west to face 4A No.2 Crown Point (20-0) and down to Starke County to visit 3A No. 10 Knox (19-0).

4. (4A) LaPorte (11-6)
2019 (16-8), 2018 (17-6), 2017 (15-11)

LaPORTE:  I'm not sure the Slicers should be this high, but I’m not sure they shouldn’t be higher. Contrast the losses to Munster (15-4), Penn (18-2), Crown Point (20-0) and Merrillville (11-7) with wins over Concord (12-6), Portage (15-5) and Fort Wayne South (10-7). Senior guard Nyla Asad averages 17.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and junior Riley Ott is clicking at a 15.5 point and 6.6 rebound rate. The Jan. 17 game with Chesterton (14-3) will show what the long range future may hold, but Class 4A Sectional 3 seems to be ready to be ‘Sliced’ up with Plymouth (10-7), Riley (8-8), Adams (5-12), Michigan City (7-9) and (1-17).

5.(4A) Merrillville (11-7)
2019 (11-12), 2018 (5-18), 2017 (21-6), 2016 (20-7)

MERRILLVILLE: Okay, Merrillville went to the school of hard Knox and lost 63-41 on Jan. 7. How on earth can I still have the Pirates rated ahead of Knox? It’s the schedule. The Pirates' losses are all to teams with records of .500 or better and they include Penn (18-2), Knox (19-0), Chesterton (14-3), Northwood (18-2), Rushville (11-9) and Valparaiso (10-8). The Pirates have beaten Warsaw (11-6), St. Joseph’s (12-5), LaPorte (11-6) and Westville (13-3). I know. Knox beat them by 22. But I think Merrillville is still a bit better. The Pirates have Crown Point (20-0), Portage (15-5) and Porter County Conference power Morgan Township (14-2) left to play. And then Merrillville, Lake Central (11-9) and Munster (15-4) will battle it out in 4A Sectional 1.

6. (3A) Knox (19-0)
2019 (21-5), 2018 (21-5), 2017 (8-15)

KNOX: Can I put Knox in here at number six? They have played somewhat of a small school schedule, but walk with me here. The Redskins have beaten 2A North Judson (15-2) 54-41, 3A Kankakee Valley (11-7) 50-45, 1A Oregon-Davis (13-3) 63-48, 2A Winamac (12-7) 42-32, 1A Pioneer (14-2), 52-47, 2A South Central (12-6) 45-28, 3A Hanover Central (11-5) 34-22 and 4A Merrillville (11-7) 63-41. Junior Felicity Olejniczak averages 13.7 per game and 6-foot center Remi Jordan averages 15.1 points and 8.7 rebounds on a team that has only one senior. If they can beat Chesterton (14-3) and North Judson (15-2) at home, the Redskins will finish the regular season undefeated. In Class 3A Sectional 18, Hanover and KV will get another shot at Knox, but they’ll have to go to Starke County to get it because the Redskins host the sectional in their classic ‘Hoosiers’ style’ gym. Stay Tuned.

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Revised: January 18, 2020 .