Chesterton Tribune

CHS Boys Basketball wraps up first ever outright DAC title

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Duneland Conference champs: The Chesterton boys basketball team won its first-ever outright Duneland Athletic Conference championship on Friday night with a 55-41 victory over Crown Point. Pictured are, front row (l to r) Head Coach Tom Peller, Joey Stento and Tyler Nemtuda. Back row (l to r) are JV Coach Mark Anderson, Asst. Coach Bob Nemtuda, Austin Bower, Alex Beierwalter, Thomas Halpin, Zack Novak, Tommy Peller, Jack Houpt, Jordan Lewis, Juan Monegro, John Thanos, Alec Houpt, Adam White, George Sanidas, Asst. Coach Tim Krutz, Asst. Coach Paul Blosser, Manager Zach Post, Manager Robbie O’Hara and Manager Mitchell Starnes. (Tribune photo by Margaret L. Willis)

 

By TR HARLAN

It’s hard to pick out a lucky number for the Chesterton boys basketball team.

It could be 3. It could be 4. It could be 1.

The Trojans wrapped up the school’s first-ever outright Duneland Athletic Conference championship on Friday night with a 55-41 victory over Crown Point.

“It’s so special and it’s something we dreamed about,” Chesterton coach Tom Peller said. “It’s such a special feeling and I’m kind of at a loss for words.

“For us to get the first title in school history, it’s just really neat to be a part of it. It’s all of us, the players, the coaches, the administrators, the fans, the students, it’s really about all of us.”

It was the Trojans’ third attempt at the title after winning their first 16 games of the year.

“It was just an emotional game and I am so proud of these guys,” Peller said. “We’ve gone through some adversity recently and we weathered the storm. We came back with great emotion and intensity tonight.”

The Trojans got off to a hot start as Zack Novak hit a 3-pointer to start the scoring and Austin Bower followed that up with a basket for a 5-0 lead.

“We had a lot of contributions from everybody,” Peller said. “We had three guys in double figures with Zack leading us again.”

Bower, who was just four months and four days out of reconstructive knee surgery, started at point guard for the Trojans and contributed 10 points, two steals and two assists to the win.

“Austin Bower was outstanding tonight,” Peller said. “To come back from his knee injury in football to tonight is incredible. His determination to come back and be part of this team is great.”

“It was my goal to get back a couple games before the Sectional to come and help the team,” Bower said. “There were points when I first got hurt that I didn’t know if I would be back. The first few practices were a little shaky, but things get better every day.

“I used this as motivation. I knew we could do something like this. That’s how I stayed motivated, just to be a part of this senior group and be standing right here as a part of this team.”

A 6-0 run by Crown Point gave them their first lead of the game 10-9, but Novak went four-for-four at the foul line to give Chesterton a 13-12 lead after one period.

Novak scored 11 straight points for the Trojans as the lead grew to 23-19 with 3:06 to play in the second quarter.

“Zack Novak is a special player you only get once in a lifetime,” Peller said. “He leads by example, by words and the way he plays out on the floor. He comes up huge in big games and he’s just a winner.

“When he’s on your side you have a chance to win every game.”

Novak finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field and grabbed nine rebounds.

“I saw a lot of openings early,” Novak said. “I was pumped for this a little more than usual. There was a little something extra there today. First conference championship ever for the school; last game in this gym.

“You had to come out and do something extra.”

The Trojans locked down on defense during the stretch as they held the Bulldogs 8:11 without a basket and built a 32-23 lead.

“We played great defensively and that’s where we won the game,” Peller said. “We played great defense tonight and I think the guys understand that to win a championship that’s where you have to get things done.”

Chesterton held sharp-shooting CP guard Stephen Albrecht to just 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting from the field.

“(Alex) Beierwalter and Tommy (Peller) did a great job on Albrecht,” Peller said. “That was our main focus. Life is like this. When you have adversity and you can bounce back from it, our guys showed they are resilient.

“We questioned things for a while, but if you stay with your plan and believe in yourself things can go your way.”

Back-to-back baskets by Crown Point pulled them within 34-29 after three quarters, but Peller went four-for-four at the foul line and Novak hit a basket to make it 40-33 with 6:03 to play.

“I think the intensity was the difference,” Novak said. “That was like a Sectional game. Low scoring, good defense and just grind it out. We got our confidence back tonight and it showed.”

Novak hit a triple, Jack Houpt scored inside and Bower hit a layup to push the lead to 47-35 and CP never got closer than 10 points again.

“Austin stepped up huge tonight,” Novak said. “From what he’s been through to today, he was back to his old self. You guys don’t see the things that he has to do every day since it happened. Nobody believed he could get back this fast. The way he was working at it, he proved everybody wrong.

“Every time the doctor told him he could do something new, he did it. Sometimes, he probably was already doing it.”

“This group has been together for so long that once I got out there it was just like old times,” Bower said. “We were able to do the same old things. It was great. The first doctor I went to told me I’d be out at least six months.

“I knew it was possible, but to get back and contribute is great.”

Chesterton 55, Crown Point 41

AT CHESTERTON

Crown Point (12-8-9-12)

Stephen Albrecht 6-19 1-3 13, Kyle Hanaway 3-7 3-3 6, Jacob Burkholder 1-4 0-0 2, Aleks Alavanja 1-3 2-2 4, Zach Cecich 4-8 0-0 8, Ben Derks 1-3 0-0 2, Michael Lipton 1-4 0-0 2, Derrick Garletts 0-0 1-4 1. Totals 17-48 7-12 41.

Chesterton (13-11-10-21)

Tommy Peller 2-10 7-8 11, Alex Beierwalter 2-5 0-0 4, Austin Bower 4-6 0-0 10, Zack Novak 8-16 5-6 23, Jack Houpt 3-5 0-0 7, Adam White 0-1 0-0 0, John Thanos 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-44 12-14 55.

3-point field goals: Crown Point 0-7 (Albrecht 0-4, Derks 0-1, Lipton 0-2); Chesterton 5-13 (Peller 0-1, Bower 2-3, Novak 2-6, Houpt 1-2, White 0-1). Rebounds: Crown Point 31 (Cecich 9); Chesterton 26 (Novak 9). Assists: Crown Point 2 (Hanaway 1, Lipton 1); Chesterton 10 (Novak 3). Steals: Crown Point 3 (Albrecht 1, Hanaway 1, Alavanja 1); Chesterton 3 (Bower 2).

 

 

Posted 2/25/2008