ST. JOHN | All traditions die eventually.
The Duneland Athletic Conference’s double round-robin is over, freeing up powerhouse teams to schedule more of the area’s best programs from outside of the DAC.
The domino effect will be felt throughout this season and many more to come. The first ripple of the move was evident as the season officially tipped off Monday.
Andrean eschewed its traditional opener against Roosevelt and met vaunted Lake Central, which itself had played the same Gary team, West Side, eight of the past 10 openers.
With the Panthers locked in as the No. 1 foe each season, Andrean had been taking advantage of a crumbling tradition that once was a proud Roosevelt program and won the last four openers — typically contested on the first Monday of the season before any other local games — by a combined 97 points.
On Monday night the Andrean opener shifted, as it has only three times in the last 21 seasons, away from the traditional tilt with Roosevelt, and new coach Scott Hicko. The young 59ers found themselves on the wrong end of a lopsided game, losing 79-37 to host Lake Central in the season opener for both.
In a packed gym filled with local coaches and plenty of electricity, Tyler Wideman began his senior season in rousing fashion and seized control of the game almost single-handedly.
“Our main focus was on energy, and I’m awfully proud of the kids for bringing it,” Lake Central coach Dave Milaunsic said. “The guys off the bench didn’t skip a beat either and kept up the defensive intensity.”
Wideman had two blocks and two dunks in an 8-0 opening run and had a double-double by halftime, with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He finished the game with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
The Times No. 2 Indians (1-0) led the No. 8 59ers (0-1), 27-8, after one quarter and 49-17 at halftime.
By the third quarter, the playful Lake Central student section chanted, “Where’s your real team?” before the back-and-forth chants graduated to other topics.
Andrean’s starters averaged about 6 feet, 1 inch of height, but there was no answer for the 6-8 Wideman.
“He’s getting up a lot quicker,” Milausnic said of Wideman. “His second and third jumps have dramatically improved, and he’s also very experienced.”
When Wideman wasn’t demolishing in the paint, Lake Central used its drive-and-kick game to drain perimeter jumpers, with Matt Meneghetti being the early beneficiary.
Meneghetti had 11 of his 14 points in the first half with three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws off the bench. Tyler Ross added 12, and Tye Wilburn had eight points, six assists and three steals.
Andrean players refused to quit even when the deficit surpassed 40, but the 59ers appeared to be working twice as hard for every open shot and couldn’t muster any type of post presence.
Nick Podkul paced the 59ers with 12 points and eight rebounds in the beginning of the post-Nick Davidson and post-Carson Cunningham eras.
“Scott is going to do a heck of a job with those guys,” Milausnic said. “They’re going to be fine by the end of the season.”