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Prep baseball - Chesterton sectional

Andrean's Class 4A baseball sectional title was one of the memorable moments of 2017 that didn't make the Times top 10.

Chances are you've already seen plenty of top 10 lists as we usher out 2017 and ring in 2018.

We compiled a summation of our biggest story lines for the past 12 months, which are also in this edition.

Here's another set, in no particular order, gleaned from my journeys on the prep beat. If they seem a little geocentric or favor certain sports, don't @ me, as the tweeps say. Keep in mind I see certain sports more and spend more time on the east side of I-65.

1. Michigan City football's run to the Class 5A semistate showed again how a school can galvanize a community. M.C. has a rare dynamic, one where consolidated schools, in this case, Elston and Rogers, still have unity issues. Coach Phil Mason helped the Red Devils and Raiders folks start thinking Wolves. Just as importantly, a deeply rooted culture of losing also changed. Nobody's laughing at City any more.

2. The exit of Dave Coyle as football coach at Valparaiso raised plenty of questions, many of which remain unanswered. There's a faction that says he went too far and had to go. There's a faction that says the turn of events reflects everything that makes the coaching profession a minefield. Coaches can't discipline anymore with fear of reprisal, players quitting, parents complaining and administrators succumbing to pressure. I can't make a judgement. I wasn't there and nobody's burning up my phone to enlighten me. I can only imagine what the late, great Don Howell of Hobart would think. We should know soon what direction Valpo chooses to go.

3. Say what you want about Andrean baseball being a Region all-star team, a roster of 4A talent at a 2A school, but its 4A sectional title was still notable. Dave Pishkur's won a million games and a bunch of state championships, but this accomplishment, capped with a memorable comeback against Chesterton, meant a great deal to the legendary coach.

4. If you've coached your kids at any level, you have a small inkling of what it was like for Chesterton wrestling assistant Keith Davison to see not one, but both of his sons compete for state titles. The elder Davison couldn't console Lucas after his loss. He had to immediately turn his attentions to Andrew, who was in the next match. It was an intriguing scenario I've never witnessed before. Andrew won and Lucas' turn should come this February.

5. Hebron reaching the 2A baseball semistate in consecutive seasons can't be overlooked. John Steinhilber's got a good thing going in south Porter County. Good old 1-3 hits the pillow often dreaming of coaching at Victory Field. Getting so close only makes him want it more. He just cycled through a special class of talent, but the Hawks aren't going away.

6. I didn't know what all the fuss was about the Porter County Conference basketball tournaments until I started covering them and my appreciation for it only grows. Last year's Westville-Hebron boys final was epic. For the Blackhawks players, I can't imagine what it was like to be part of your school's greatest sports moment ever. Those guys could dunk, too.

7. Boone Grove 3, Bishop Noll 2, 23 innings. Only the driver for this one, I just got to see the first 14 frames since darkness pushed it into a second day that required another nine. Ashley Gordish spun 22 1/3 innings for the Warriors and lost, which didn't seem fair. The game, decided by a bunt, was the fourth-longest in IHSAA history.

8. LaPorte unveiled a display outside Kiwanis Field in memory of Jake West. Not only will the former Slicer never be forgotten. Good has come from the tragedy of his death in the form of the Play for Jake Foundation, which provides screenings for heart conditions like the one he had. Players touching the 26-yard line before games is a classy tradition.

9. Chesterton teacher/coach Dave Milligan ran across Indiana for good causes — his high school coach and teacher Tom Levandoski, the family of Nicole Gland and the Miller Chapter of the Izaak Walton League. Milly is a free spirit with a big heart. It was his second trek across the state and now he's jumped into the salsa business. Keep being you, bro.

10. The Brendan Black-Kris Rumph wrestling rivalry had some modern-day Ali-Fraizer flair to it. Start with the fact that there has always been some contentiousness between Hobart and Portage, then take it to the mat, where neither was giving an inch, and the intensity was fever pitch. The two met in the finals every step of the way in the postseason, Rumph making his case with a win in the regional. It would be Black's only loss as he came back to win the semistate and then the state championship, 10-2, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Happy New Year! May 2018 bring a whole new list.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at


Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.