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Chesterton's Kolton Cardenas

In this Feb. 13 photo, Chesterton's Kolton Cardenas dribbles around Hammond's Jamar Styles during a game in Chesterton.

CHESTERTON — Before his freshman basketball season, Kolton Cardenas broke a hand, which was a good thing in the end.

He came back and had trouble catching the ball his first game back, but once he adjusted his handling of the ball and his shots, he made six 3-pointers in the second game of his comeback.

“I don’t know what it was, but once I came back it just made my shot a lot smoother,” Cardenas said.

This preseason, Cardenas missed six weeks of activity with a herniated disc in his back, and he dislocated a finger in the first scrimmage of the season, opting to pop it back in rather than miss time. It’s yet to be determined what, if any, dividends the recent injuries will pay.

There was no singular incident for the back injury, he said, but it might have been wear and tear from diving after baseballs in the outfield.

Cardenas has his mind set on playing collegiate baseball, likely at the NAIA level, so this is likely the 6-foot senior point guard’s final season of basketball.

He takes over starting point guard duties from Ky Palombizio, a high-impact 2018 grad who’s now prepping at Bosco Institute in Crown Point, and it’s Cardenas’ time to lead from the position. He was the understudy the previous two seasons.

“Now I kind of have to step up,” Cardenas said. “I have to take his role and play a lot harder than I was last year.”

The Times No. 3 Trojans easily disposed of Times No. 10 Lowell 54-29 on Saturday in nonconference action, and Cardenas had 11 points with a trio of 3-pointers.

He had just five points in the previous game, a win over Morton, but he found himself open on the perimeter often on a night when Chesterton hit 10 3-pointers. He also led a defensive effort to hold Lowell's leading scorer, Christopher Mantis, to just two points.

“He’s a big glue guy for us,” Chesterton coach Marc Urban said. “He’s played his role and continued to develop. He’s a kid that puts the team first and just loves to compete. He’s a tough-nosed kid.”