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Scouting Duneland Athletic Conference boys basketball
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BOYS BASKETBALL

Scouting Duneland Athletic Conference boys basketball

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Mason Jones

Valparaiso's Mason Jones, center, draws a foul as he's guarded by Portage's Kamari Slaughter, left, and Jaelon Hollies during last season's sectional final.

Chesterton Trojans

Coach: Marc Urban, sixth season.

Last season: 16-7 (6-1 DAC).

2021 postseason: Lost to Valparaiso 44-42 in Class 4A sectional opener.

Top returning players: G Travis Grayson (18.3 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.7 spg), F/C Justin Sims (4.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg), F Chris Mullen (6.4 ppg, 2.4 apg).

What you should know: The Trojans have one of the area’s better 1-2 punches in Grayson and Sims. The Feb. 18 game with rival Valparaiso is circled, underlined and highlighted on the calendar as the Vikings ended Chesterton’s last two seasons.

Crown Point Bulldogs

Coach: Clint Swan, 16th season.

Last season: 11-5 (4-3).

2021 postseason: Lost 47-32 to Valparaiso in Class 4A sectional semifinal.

Top returning players: G Drew Adzia (11.8 ppg, 2 apg), G/F AJ Lux (7.5 ppg).

What you should know: The Bulldogs have one of the area’s best coaching staffs but will need to replace some size and a leading scorer in Ty Smith. Lux might be the best shooter in Northwest Indiana and Adzia provides a steady presence at guard.

Lake Central Indians

Coach: Dave Milausnic, 18th season.

Last season: 16-8 (4-3).

2021 postseason: Lost 58-29 to West Side in Class 4A sectional semifinal.

Top returning players: G Myles Yekich (6.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), G Jaiden Clayton (7.8 ppg), F Ethan Knopf (6.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg).

What you should know: Clayton is a talent and Yekich has ability. The Indians may lack height and will need someone to step up to be the primary scorer with Kyle Ross now playing for Milwaukee.

LaPorte Slicers

Coach: Jordan Heckard, first season.

Last season: 5-18 (0-7).

2021 postseason: Lost 68-46 to Mishawaka in Class 4A sectional opener.

Top returning players: G/F Grant Ott-Large (17 ppg, 9.5 rpg), G Kyle Kirkham.

What you should know: Heckard comes to the DAC after 10 seasons at Highland. He said the team has already bought in. The Slicers were the bottom of the conference a year ago but return Ott-Large, who was among the best scorers in the Region last season, and seven other players who saw varsity action.

 

Merrillville Pirates

Coach: Bo Patton, third season.

Last season: 10-11 (3-4).

2021 postseason: Lost 66-46 to West Side in Class 4A sectional opener.

Top returning players: F AJ Dixon (12.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg), F Lavonta Ash (3.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg in 2019), F Isaiah Akinyele (3.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg).

What you should know: Patton coached a team that was 4-10 to six straight wins to end the regular season a year ago. But the Pirates graduated six of their top seven scorers. Merrillville spent the preseason waiting on four players to return from the football team’s postseason run.

Michigan City Wolves

Coach: Tom Wells, third season.

Last season: 13-11 (3-4).

2021 postseason: Lost 91-76 to South Bend Riley in Class 4A sectional semifinal.

Top returning players: G Jamie Hodges (19.3 ppg, 3.4 apg, 2.1 spg), G Omarion Hatch (9.5 ppg, 3.4 apg).

What you should know: Hodges flirted with prep school but ultimately came back, giving the Wolves a top-shelf scorer. City struggled down the stretch last season after opening 8-1. Hodges and Hatch give them a potent guard combo.

Portage Indians

Coach: Bryon Clouse, first season.

Last season: 9-15 (1-6).

2021 postseason: Lost 59-53 to Valparaiso in Class 4A sectional final.

Top returning players: G Kamari Slaughter (12.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2 spg), G Jaelon Hollies (9.3 ppg, 3.1 apg, 1.9 spg).

What you should know: Clouse returns to head his alma mater after 15 seasons in the Greater South Shore Conference. Slaughter is one of the area’s best but the Indians don’t return a ton of size.

Valparaiso Vikings

Coach: Barak Coolman, seventh season.

Last season: 20-6 (7-0).

2021 postseason: Lost 44-36 to South Bend Riley in Class 4A regional semifinal.

Top returning players: F Mason Jones (10.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.3 apg), G Breece Walls (8.3 ppg, 5.3 apg)

What you should know: The Vikings will wear targets after knocking out three conference opponents in last year’s postseason. Jones will occupy the paint and Walls is a returning lead guard. Forward Michael Flynn is the only other returning letter winner.

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