Before we formally tuck away the 2013-14 boys basketball season and put it to bed with our all-area and 'of the year' honors Sunday, let's take a quick peek at what might be in store for the '14-'15 campaign.
Marquette Catholic stands alone as the region's sole state champion among the three teams to make it to Indianapolis and the Blazers will be in solid position to make another run at a title. They have to replace guards Richie Mitchell and Nate Flores, but will be a load to deal with on the front line. Marquette will feature four players who are 6-foot-4 or taller, and chances are they'll be even bigger come November.
Providence recruit Ryan Fazekas posted relatively modest numbers most of the season before blowing up for 34 points and seven 3-pointers in the finals, which may be a sample of what's in store for his senior year. Don't look now, but Donovan Garletts just might be building a powerhouse in Michigan City, where the school could be developing into a talent magnet. The JV didn't lose a game. The biggest concern may be a move up to 2A after another post-season push next winter.
The tournament waters are a lot murkier for Bowman Academy and Lake Central.
We've come to expect the Eagles to simply reload one season to the next, but massive graduation losses will leave the cupboard a little thin, at least for now. Junior All-Star Davon Dillard is a great place to start, though there are already rumblings that he may be elsewhere as a senior. Bowman may be facing a transition year much like it did in 2010-11, when it was a better-than-it-looked 12-11, yet not the buzzsaw that's carved its way to the state capital four times in the last five years.
Griffith, with the Murphy twins, Tremell and Anthony, could be the beneficiary. Andrean also navigated its way through a transition year with some success and figures to be even better as much of its core returns.
L.C.'s run was years in the making and won't likely be replicated. The Indians figure to remain a competitive program, but you don't replace the veteran talent they had, led by Tyler Wideman and Tye Wilburn, without having some kind of fall-off.
The 4A balance of power figures to shift toward Munster and perennially skilled E.C. Central. Some thought the Mustangs overachieved in going 20-5 this season, a testament to coach Mike Hackett and the benchmark program he has built. UIC signee Drew Hackett will lead Munster, while the Cardinals may have the best combination in Junior All-Star Hyron Edwards and the rising Damien Jefferson.
Noll, which wasn't far from making the state finals an NWI quartet, was also a senior-laden club, possibly leaving the door slightly ajar in 2A.
Can region boys hoops match this year's success next time around? It won't be easy, but the odds didn't favor three local teams getting to Indy in 2014 either and look what happened. At least one local school has made it there the last five seasons.
As it is in every sport, it's a combination of not only ability and hard work, but timing and good fortune. For many, next year has already begun.