We're not too far into the boys basketball season and some of the conference races haven't even tipped off, but there have been enough games played already to glean a few observations on what's happened and what might happen as we march through winter.
Bowman Academy, as expected, is the best team in the region. The difference this year is that it's not speculation. The Eagles have already played the next-best team in northwest Indiana, Lake Central, and gotten past them, in addition to carving up a good Chesterton club. Now their road show begins. Class 3A finals against Greensburg on March 29. Looks like I'll be spending my birthday in Indianapolis.
Speaking of the Indians, they clearly look like the class of the Duneland Athletic Conference. They're 4-1 after topping Munster, took Bowman to the wall and destroyed what still figures to be a pretty good West Side team that really missed center Arnold Wilson that night.
Chesterton hasn't won a sectional since 1987. Almost hard to believe with some of the players who have worn the maroon and gold.
Valparaiso and Merrillville have run the field since it went to class, but both are under .500 and struggling offensively so far with inexperienced rosters. The Trojans improved to 4-1 with a defining last-second win over E.C. Central on Tuesday thanks to a last-second Cole Teal 3.
Sometimes, it's not about when you're good, it's about when everybody else is good. No clear favorite in Sectional 2 and in case you haven't noticed, Michigan City doesn't host this year. It's at Valpo, where Internet connections go to die.
"I wouldn't want to be in Sectional 1," Teal said. "It's stacked." Teal's smart. He knows what he's saying. Then again, Sectional 1 usually is a buzz saw. Lake Central, Munster, E.C. Central, Lowell and West Side. Wow.
I really like the Lake Station guard troika of Brian Patterson, Dwayne Haden and Kyle Gooch. Just think if Marquette's Nathan Flores was still at L.S. If Noll can be beaten in Sectional 33, it'll be by the confident Eagles. It's preview time and a big Greater South Shore Conference game Saturday when the Eagles bus to Hammond.
Kouts is the best team in the Porter County Conference, though Friday's trip to Westville could be dangerous, and I'm not talking about the slick roads. It's a big game for a Blackhawks team/program desperately wanting to show it belongs.
The Mustangs will push for 20 wins again this season, but may be only the third best team in a deep Class A Sectional 49 that has added Marquette. Defending champion Gary 21st Century doesn't play a lot of local schools, making them a hard read, but it dropped 87 on Lew Wallace on Tuesday. Noted. The Blazers have crushed four straight by an average of 35 since losses to pair of good Illinois teams.
A few weeks into the season and the list of local unbeatens is already short. Plenty of parity means plenty of good hoops.
Lots of holiday tournaments coming up in the next week or two. Safe travels to all.