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Scouting Northwest Crossroads Conference boys basketball
BOYS BASKETBALL

Scouting Northwest Crossroads Conference boys basketball

Mike Hackett

Munster coach Mike Hackett faces a rebuilding project this season.

Andrean 59ers

Coach: Aaron Austin, first season.

Last season: 12-6 (4-1 NCC).

2021 postseason: Lost 64-57 to Bowman in opening round of Class 2A sectional.

Top returning players: G Robby Ballentine (3.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.1 apg), G Patrick Moynihan (2.7 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.9 apg)

What you should know: Between six seniors graduating and would-be senior Gabe Gillepsie transferring to Don Bosco, Andrean lost nearly 90 percent of its scoring from last year’s team that finished runner up in the NCC. As a result, Austin gets a fairly clean slate while installing his own system as head coach after previously serving as an assistant.

Highland Trojans

Coach: Joseph Fabian, first season.

Last season: 12-11 (1-4).

2021 postseason: Lost 68-45 to Morton in the opening round of Class 4A sectional.

Top returning players: G Alek Havlin (2.2 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 0.3 apg), G Nick Steele (7.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.8 apg)

What you should know: Fabian gets the chance to hit a reset button in his first season leading the Highland program. The Trojans lost nine of last season’s 13 varsity players to graduation.

Hobart Brickies

Coach: Michael Brown, fifth season.

Last season: 6-15 (0-5).

2021 postseason: Lost 51-45 to Portage in opening round of Class 4A sectional.

Top returning players: G Miki Djankovich, G Jayden Hence, F Keith Mullins.

What you should know: Djankovich, Hence and Mullins return as starters for a team that Brown said should be much improved thanks, in part, to greater depth up and down the roster. He’s optimistic his freshmen could make an immediate impact. That group includes Hobart quarterback Noah Ehlrich, who will be at one of the guard spots.

Kankakee Valley Kougars

Coach: Bill Shepherd, 10th season.

Last season: 9-14 (2-3).

2021 postseason: Lost 58-36 to Hanover Central in second round of Class 3A sectional.

Top returning players: C Hayden Dase (4.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.7 apg), F Nick Mikash (14.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.7 apg), G Cam Webster (8.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.0 apg)

What you should know: Not long after losing to Hanover in last season’s sectional Shepherd met with his returning players and talked about how optimistic he was about this year’s team. Mikash will lead from the front as the Kougars’ returning leading scorer and rebounder. Webster returns as a starting point guard and if Dase continues to develop as an inside-outside threat at 6-foot-7, KV could make some noise.

Lowell Red Devils

Coach: Joe Delgado, eighth season.

Last season: 13-10 (2-5).

2021 postseason: Lost 41-36 to Portage in second round of Class 4A sectional.

Top returning players: G Ethan Hernandez, G John Johnson, G Zach Wunsh.

What you should know: Delgado doesn’t have much returning varsity experience and needs to find a way to replace the 28.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game produced by since-graduated Christopher Mantis. Senior point guard Cayden Vasko left for the Bosco Institute, too. 

Munster Mustangs

Coach: Mike Hackett, 22nd season.

Last season: 18-6 (5-0).

2021 postseason: Lost 49-29 to West Side in Class 4A sectional final.

Top returning players: G David Cundiff, G Sean Kimble, F Brandon Trilli.

What you should know: Hackett has gone through plenty of reloading seasons across more than two decades at Munster but will be tested this season. He only returns about five points and two rebounds per game from last year’s roster. Trilli moved to the area from Arizona and is expected to make an early impact.

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