(Last week's rankings in parentheses, records through Wednesday's games)
1. Lake Central (1) 12-1
The Indians continue to find ways to win and played close games to take home the inaugural Duneland Athletic Conference West Tournament title. Now that the Indians are on everyone's radar, each game will be harder.
2. LaPorte (2) 11-0
The Slicers are the next team hoping to knock off L.C. LaPorte will have two weeks to prep for a Jan. 10 matchup against the Indians.
3. West Side (4) 7-2
The Cougars figured out how to solve a problem like Whitney Jennings. Not letting up after a huge first half could be an ongoing issue, but West Side will keep finding ways to win.
4. Merrillville (3) 8-4
Merrillville played Lake Central tough, yet unlike West Side, didn't close out late. The Pirates have the talent, but with this schedule, it can't take any quarters off.
5. Bishop Noll (5) 11-2
The Warriors are closing in on the hard part of their schedule. How they'll respond against the remaining contenders of the Greater South Shore Conference will show how far they've come with an improved nonconference slate.
6. Morgan Twp. (6) 8-3
The healthy Cherokees are a force to behold. They can keep the momentum as they season winds down and the competition heats up.
7. Crown Point (10) 8-5
Another team that adjusted against Lake Central, the Bulldogs have shown their improvement. Sustaining that impressive renovation is the key to showing its impact.
8. Hobart (9) 9-3
The Brickies were stunned in the Hanover Central Tournament, then ran the gamut to prove why they should have won. This doesn't get any easier.
9. Highland (7) 8-5
Three straight losses have put Highland on the ropes. The Trojans have the opportunity to create a bigger tie in the Northwest Crossroads Conference, and the talent is there for it to happen.
10. Lowell (10) 7-4
The Red Devils have shown their weakness. How they'll respond in the face of these losses will test Lowell's meddle.
On the bubble: Washington Township (8-2), Portage (6-7), Griffith (7-6), Whiting (7-4), Kankakee Valley (5-4), Kouts (6-3), Chesterton (5-6).